Last Will & Testament

What is a Will and why do I need one?

A will is a legal document that leaves instructions about what you want done with everything you own at your death. Everything you own at your death is called the estate. A will gives you some control over what will happen to what you own. By having a will, you can make sure that the things you own go to the people you want to have them. A will can be useful for your loved ones as there is little uncertainty about your exact wishes while you were alive.  Also, when a will is present, it can often help with a sense of closure and duty in that the distribution of a deceased person's estate is done in accordance with his or her final wishes.  Since the deceased person is not around to explain what he or she meant, the instructions contained in a will need to be clear.  To make a will you will need to be an adult at law (which means generally, you must be 19 or over to make a legal will).  You will also need to be mentally capable of managing your own affairs. If someone tricks you into making a will or undue pressure or influence is present when you make your will, the will can be held to be invalid and unenforceable.  When drafting your will, you should be alone with the lawyer at Open Door Law Corporation so that a determination can be made to your actual wishes and to ensure that there is no outside forces overwhelming your decision.  To make a valid will in BC certain formalities need to be present.  These include making the will in writing, signing the will at the end and ensuring that two witnesses are present who put their signature on the will too. There are other formalities which should be observed. 

Do you need to make a new will if you marry?

If you marry after making a will, your will becomes invalid, unless it says you made it in contemplation of getting married. Also, if you divorce after making a will, the parts that relate to your ex-spouse may no longer be valid. You should therefore check your will from time to time to see if it needs updating.

What does the executor do?

The executor applies to the court to "probate" the will. Probate is a procedure to prove the will is valid and establish your right to act as executor. In general, the executor takes control of the estate, notifies creditors and everyone legally entitled to know about the death (in case they want to challenge the will), ensures that valuables are safely stored and proper home and other insurance is still in effect, pays the bills, manages any trust funds, distributes the bequests and files a terminal tax return.

Acting as executor can be time consuming, and you can be personally sued if you do not administer the estate properly. If you are named as executor, we can help you with all the steps required. The legal fees are usually paid from the estate.

What happens if there is no will?

If a person dies without a will, the Estate Administration Act dictates who inherits. If the deceased leaves behind a spouse only, the spouse will inherit everything. If the deceased leaves behind children, generally his or her spouse will get the first $65,000 of the estate and can live in the family home for life. Then, if there is only one child, the balance will be divided equally between the spouse and child. If there is more than one child, the spouse will get one third of the balance and the children will share the remainder. There may also be some unfavourable tax consequences if there is no will.

What does Estate & Personal Planning involve?

A will is only one part of establishing the best plan for your needs. We can assist with arranging the ownership of your assets, setting up trusts, arranging life insurance, preparing powers of attorney, reorganizing corporate structures and establishing other ways to best preserve your assets for those you want to benefit.

If you would like to have a last will and testament prepared and or any other estate planning documentation, you may complete our online questionnaire which will enable us to access the scope of work for the will or you may contact Open Door Law Corporation @ 604-689-3667 to book an appointment and to discuss your situation. 

Click here for a Power of Attorney Questionnaire.


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