Wills In British Columbia:
What is a Will?
In British Columbia a Will, when correctly written and executed, is a document that takes affect upon a person's death and allows a person to stipulate who they would like to take care of their estate by allowing them to appoint an executor and alternate executor of their choosing, who they would like to give their assets to when they pass and most importantly it allows a parent to appoint a guardian of their minor children.
What happens if I don't have a Will?
Without a Will there is no guarantee the administration of your estate, the distribution of your assets and personal effects and guardianship of your minor children will follow your wishes.
- Administration of your Estate: Without a valid Will there is no way of knowning who may be awarded the appointment of administrator of the estate, this means that the person responsbile for administering your estate could be anyone who applies to the courts or if none apply it could be the public guardian and trustee. This process is also more time consuming and more costly to your estate and to the beneficiaries who may inherit from your estate.
- Distribution of your assets and personal effects: Without a valid Will any assets owned by you at the time of your passing will be distributed persuant to the Estate Administration Act which may not be in accordance with your wishes.
- Guardianship of Minor Children: Most importantly there is no guarantee of who may be appointed as a guardian for your infant children as the courts will be responsible for making this decision. The process of applying to the courts for guardianship is costly and very time consuming and it is possible that your children may reside in foster care until the courts have made a decision.
At Farley Martin Notaries Public we are here to give you the confidence to know your Will and Estate Planning has been thoroughly thought through and properly executed giving you the peace of mind that your family and assets will be taken care of and distributed according to your wishes. We work closely with you to ensure that you have examined all aspects of Will and Estate Planning and that you have a thorough understanding of how your wishes will take place in the event of your passing.
Our process involves a complete interview one on one with one of our Notaries, who will answer any questions you may have about Wills and Estate Planning, a chance to review your completed will with your Notary before you sign and an assurance that we will store a copy of your will. In addition, we work diligently to stay up to date with changes to the law and with recent changes in the areas of Powers of Attorney and Representation Agreements and with future changes expected to take place in the fall of 2012 to the area of Wills you can feel assured your documents will be drafted to meet current and future standards.
How often should I review my Will?
We recommend reviewing your will every 5 years or everytime you have a major life change. These changes could include an expansion in your family or the loss of a family member named in your will. If you have a significant increase or decrease in the value of your estate or if you feel your decisions in your previous will should be updated to reflect your current wishes. If you are unsure if your current wil accurately reflects your wishes one of our Notaries would be happy to assist you in reviewing your will.
At Farley Martin Notaries we understand that travel to our office is not always possible. To accommodate our clients that are unable to travel to our Victoria or Westshore office we offer home and hospital visits. Additional fees do apply for this service, for more information, to book a home or hospital visit please feel free to call or e-mail our office anytime.
Facts about Wills everyone in BC should know:
Did you know that in British Columbia there are three main ways a Will can be challanged and ultimately altered by the court.
- First, is if there is a disappointed beneficiary they may have the right to challange under the Wills Variation Act. Any child, whether natural or legally adopted, and any one who would be legally defined as a spouse, by legal marraige or commonlaw, may have the right to challange the contents of the Will and Apply to the court for it to be varied. This process can be very costly both for the challanger and for the estate.
- Second, even if a will appears to meet the technical requirements required by law a court may change or invalidate the Will if it determines that the deceased person lacked the mental capacity to make a Will or if it is suspected that the Testator was coerced or unduely influenced at the time of making the Will.
- Third, if a will does not comply with the formal requirements as set out by the Wills Act it may be declared invalid by the courts and the estate will be distributed in accordance with the Estate Administration Act, not by the testators wishes. Note that a will does not have to be challanged by anyone to be declared invalid due to failure to meet formal requirements, when a will goes through probate the courts examine a will and determine its validity at this point.
The likelyhood of these challanges can be significantly reduced when visiting a Notary to have your Will prepared. It is our duty to ensure you are fully aware of all the laws that may apply to your wishes, that your Will meets all the technical requirements required by law and we are trained in the area of capacity assesment. Before we proceed with the creation of any Personal Planning document we ensure our clients have the capacity to create them. For more information on how a we can help you feel confident about your Personal Estate Planning goals feel free to call or e-mail us anytime.
Haven't made your Will Yet? Your not alone....did you know that according to a province wide survey conducted by The Society of Notaries Public of BC just over a year ago and found that, on average, only 51% of British Columbians aged 18+ have current and legal Will.
For more information on how to navigate these potential issues and protect your family and loved ones contact Farley Martin Notaries at (250) 388-5905 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org