Why Plan in Advance
One of the most important and caring things we can do for ourselves – and our loved ones – is to prepare in advance for a time when we may not be able to express our own needs and wishes.
Expressing and legally documenting preferences and instructions can be a very comforting and satisfying process, especially when it’s managed by an experienced and trusted legal professional. Your Notary understands the sensitivities and complexities of these planning decisions, and will ensure that your intentions are clear and properly documented – so you can be rest assured about your future.
If you have close family and friends, expressing your preferences clearly is one of the greatest gifts you can give them to ensure they are aware of your wishes – and to save potential confusion or even conflict later on. Clear, legally documented instructions can also save costly and time-consuming legal intervention in the future.
Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging for the disposal of an estate.
Estate planning typically attempts to eliminate uncertainties over the administration of a probate and maximize the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses.
Guardians are often designated for minor children and beneficiaries incapable of handling
their own affairs.
The purpose of an estate plan is to provide peace of mind and security for your family. But, the
opposite can result particularly where family members disagree with the estate plan and, in many
cases, can be worse than having no plan at all.
Your Will and Power of Attorney are the most important components of your estate plan. In fact, few documents are as significant. Dying without a Will, also referred to as dying “intestate,” can have unintended consequences. Your estate would be distributed according to the intestacy laws in British Columbia if this were to happen.
All provinces have specific rules as to how an estate is to be divided among your living heirs should you die without a Will. These decisions are left up to the government and their decisions will likely be quite different than what you otherwise would have wanted. The next page shows how your estate will be disbursed if you do not have a Will.
Therefore, it is very important to have a Will that is current and in place.
See our Resources page for more information on;
- How will your Estate be divided without a Will
- A Death in Your Family
- About Wills and Estates
- Writing Your Will
- Power of Attorney
- Duties and being an Executor
Succession Distribution of Assets (having died without a Will)
Spouse’s Share by Province/Territory:
Alberta $40,000, British Columbia $65,000, Manitoba $50,000, Northwest Territories $50,000, Nova Scotia $50,000, Ontario $200,000, Prince Edward Island $50,000, Saskatchewan $100,000.
If a person dies without a Will the estate would be distributed as follows:
|When you are survived by:||Your Estate is divided as Follows:|
|A spouse with no children||
|Spouse / one child||
|Spouse and 2 or more children||
|No spouse/no children||
|No spouse, children, grandchildren or parents||
|Nephews and nieces only||
|No spouse, parents, children, grand children, siblings, nephews or nieces||
For additional information on dying without a Will visit the Canadian Bar Association website.
In British Columbia, it’s not uncommon for estates to be challenged by unhappy family members. Some family members may feel the distribution of assets are unbalanced or the Will contains badly worded clauses that didn’t adequately convey the deceased person’s true wishes as “perceived” by some family members.
A Will can become outdated and what was once considered fair may actually become unfair over time and therefore open itself to challenge. We recommend you review/update your Will every 2-3 years to ensure your Will is timely and appropriate.
The delays to finalize an Estate caused by challenges can run into years and the legal costs can severely erode the worth of the Estate leaving little for the beneficiaries other than compromised feelings and damaged relationships between family members.
We recommend you seek professional advice for the preparation of your Will. Doing it yourself can leave many details open to interpretation. A Will is an investment in ensuring your estate is administered according to your wishes while saving your Estate money and helping to reduce anxiety in the process.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney allows a capable adult to appoint a person or persons to handle their financial and legal matters in the event they are unable to do so themselves or need assistance. The document also specifies whether these individuals are allowed to act separately or required to act together. Because of the financial authority conveyed, it is critical that the Adult fully understands what power they are granting with the document and have complete trust in the person they are appointing.
It also allows the Adult to compensate their designated attorney for performing actions on their behalf.
Who should have a Power of Attorney?
This document has great value for anyone who:
- wants to ensure that a trusted person would take care of bill paying, correspondence and financial management in the event of incapacity of absence
- may need assistance with their daily finances now or in the future
- wants to avoid the very lengthy and expensive process of a court appointed committee should they suddenly become incapable
- wants to avoid having the Public Guardian and Trust take over his or her affairs
A Representation Agreement appoints a representative, or multiple representatives, to make decisions regarding your health and personal care in the event you are unable to communicate your own wishes. Depending on how the Representation Agreement is prepared, a designated representative’s authority can include:
- routine finances
- decisions regarding healthcare, personal care, and limited legal affairs
- refusal or consent to life support treatment and care
- consent to less common medical procedures/ treatment
- consent to treatment the Adult approved while capable but since losing capacity has refused to consent
- deciding on living arrangements for the Adult including choosing a care facility
A Notary can help you determine the appropriate scope of your specific representative(s).
Who should have a Representative Agreement?
Any adult who wants to ensure that a specific person or persons are appointed to make decisions for them, especially if they have no spouse; or no spouse and no children, or if their children are in conflict with one another or would not be good decision makers.
Advanced (Health Care) Directives
Advance Directives document instructions to doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers for your future healthcare. This ensures your wishes will be carried out by healthcare providers if you are unable to express them in the future.
Who should have an Advance Directive?
People who want to ensure that their wishes are followed even if:
- their family’s wishes differ from their own
- they have no family who could be appointed as their representative
- they have concerns that differing opinions among their family might cause conflict if a decision has to be made about where you should live or end of life.
Deed of Gift
Who should consider a Deed of Gift?
Anyone who wants to transfer an asset, as a gift, before their death.
A Deed of Gift documents a significant gift to another person during one’s lifetime. When prepared and notarized by a Notary, it proves the donor’s intention for the gift which can be required to counter undue influence or arguments after the donor’s death. This can also be useful in circumstances where a person near death wants to transfer their assets or home into joint tenancy or wants to give a significant sum of money or gift to another person during their lifetime.
Visit our Resources page for more Estate information.
BC Notaries have been helping individuals and families with planning related to finances, healthcare, and estates for over a hundred years.
Planning with Confidence. Your trusted advisor in estate and personal planning.
20416 Douglas Crescent,
Langley, BC, V3A 4B4