Make-A-Will Week, April 8 to April 14, 2018

Wills and estate planning are difficult topics for most of us. Asking the hard questions and thinking about those we would leave behind is emotional, and many people avoid the process altogether. Recent studies show that only 55% of British Columbians have a current will, 2/3 of parents with children under 18 do not have a will and only 43% of homeowners have a Will.
So why should you have a Will? Here are five reasons you should make a Will:

1. In the absence of a Will, provincial legislation dictates who will inherit your assets, which may be contrary to your wishes.

2. Without an appointed Executor, the Court will appoint someone (a "Personal Representative") to administer your
estate and distribute your assets. This can be a lengthy process and incur significant costs.

3. The imposed liquidation of assets to cash, despite unfavorable market conditions, may create financial challenges and the loss of precious family heirlooms due to a sale.

4. If no heirs can be found, your assets will "escheat" to the Provincial Government - that means the government will take over your assets.

5. You do not decide who will take care of your minor children, the Court will choose who the guardian for your minor children will be.

Although you may feel that your loved ones understand your wishes, the legal outcomes of dying without a Will may be very challenging for surviving family members.

They will need to deal with the Court process, incurring additional costs, delays and stress. Creating a Will gives you and your family peace of mind that your assets will go to those you love and your wishes will be followed.

We've answered the most commonly asked questions to make this process a little easier on everyone:

  1. What is the difference between a notary vs. lawyer? The simple answer is that notaries do not represent clients in court and do not become involved in litigation. For Wills and estate planning, a notary can provide legal advice and draft most Wills and estate planning documents. British Columbia courts have confirmed that Notaries can and are are obliged to give accurate advice in areas which they are authorized to practice and to the same standards as lawyers who are members of the Law Society of British Columbia. Highly complex Wills, involving trusts for adults, require the services of a lawyer, but these tend to be the exception, not the rule.
  2. Can I use a "make-a-will-kit"? We do not advise the use of the online kit. There is no independent oversight on these services, and it is much easier to challenge in a court of law. Additionally, the instructions documented in a Will are critical, and may have significant, yet unintended legal consequences for your beneficiaries. When correctly written, Wills give legal affect to your instructions and may only need to be updated if your life situation changes, or if you choose to change your instructions. Investing in doing it properly the first time may save your estate and beneficiaries in the long run.
  3. What questions should I be prepared to answer? Decide who would be a trusted person to act as Executor, carrying out your wishes in your place. This role can be shared or be sure to name a back-up Executor. Think about who would be an ideal guardian for the children, and a second choice in case the named guardian cannot assume the responsibility.
  4. How long will it take? A Will usually requires two visits, one to discuss your instructions and review your legal choices regarding estate planning. The second visit is shorter, usually to review and sign the formal document. This process happens over a couple of weeks, although we do offer emergency Will services, subject to availability.
  5. What are the costs associated with doing a Will? Generally, legal fees range from $298 for a simple, single Will to $498 for a simple, couple's Will package. More complicated Wills are quoted on an individual basis.

Join us in BC's Make-A-Will week, April 8 - 14, 2018. Call our office today to book your Will consultation. Do not delay this essential process to ensure your loved ones are cared for as you would wish. We can help with any uncomfortable and difficult questions, and will keep the process simple and straight forward.