Many Canadians put off estate planning or avoid it altogether. A recent poll of Canadian adults found that 50% don’t have a Last Will and Testament in place. When asked why they don’t have a Will, the top reasons were that they are too young to need one, they don’t have enough assets to worry about, and that making a Will is too expensive. Others procrastinated because they didn’t want to think about their own mortality.
The reality is that a legal Will is a key component of good estate planning. Wills are not just for the elderly or for wealthy people, and the cost of creating a Will is probably less than you are guessing. In fact, having a Will is very likely to save you and your loved ones time and money in the long run.
Ensuring that you have a Will in place is one of the most important things you can do for your family members. The team at Onyx Law Group understands that creating a Will can seem like a daunting task. We prepared this blog article to help you get an understanding of the things to consider and the process for creating a legal Will. If you have questions or want to get your Will in place, give us a call. We take the time to understand your wishes and your family needs and aim to simplify the process as much as possible.
Your estate is everything you own at the time of your death. Your Last Will and Testament is a legal document that solidifies your wishes regarding the distribution of your estate on your death. It’s your opportunity to have your final say. You get to give your instructions for who inherits and when they inherit, and you get to choose who you want to handle your estate on your behalf.
If you die without a Will—known as dying intestate—your estate must be distributed in accordance with the inheritance rules in British Columbia’s Wills, Estates and Succession Act, SBC 2009, c. 13 (“WESA”). How your estate assets are distributed depends on the value of your estate and the combination of relatives you leave behind. The people you wanted to inherit may not, or they may get less than you would’ve wanted. In addition, someone will have to bring a court application to be appointed to handle your estate. That person may not be the one you would’ve chosen.
There are many benefits of having Will—some of which are discussed below—and several important decisions that you’ll need to make to ensure your Will does what you want it to do. Our estate planning lawyers can take you through an estate planning checklist to ensure that nothing is missed and that your loved ones are provided for in the manner you intended.
In addition, your lawyer will ensure that your Will meets the legal requirements or “formalities” so that it is binding and enforceable. For your Will to be valid, it must meet the formal requirements set out in section 37 of WESA. It must be:
If your Will doesn’t meet those formal legal requirements, it is not enforceable.
Mistakes in your Will can result in your Will be contested after your death, which will cost your estate time and money, and cause delay in your family members receiving their inheritance. The best way to ensure that you leave a valid Will is to have it prepared by a legal professional. Estate lawyers have specialized knowledge of estate law, so they can create a legally valid Will that achieves your estate planning goals. Skilled estate lawyers can also advise you on ways to minimize estate taxes and avoid probate court and probate fees.
A Will is one of the most important legal documents you’ll ever prepare. It doesn’t matter if you have a simple estate or a complex estate with many assets—a Will is essential if you want a say in what happens to your assets, as well as other matters of importance, after you die.
A well-drafted Will achieves several important objectives. In addition to expressing your funeral and burial wishes, you can customize your Will to:
Having a Will offers several other benefits. For example, a Will can minimize probate fees and legal fees that would otherwise be incurred by your estate after your death. The steps you take now can maximize the inheritance your beneficiaries ultimately receive. In addition to avoiding the lengthy probate process, a well-drafted Will also speeds up the estate administration process and goes a long way to avoiding the potential for estate litigation that would delay the settling of your estate (to say nothing of saving your loved ones from the deep distress and damage to relationships that estate litigation can cause among surviving family members).
Our team of estate planning and estate litigation lawyers have seen it all when it comes to Will mistakes. Here are some of the more common estate planning mistakes:
With timely legal advice, some mistakes can be fixed. Other mistakes can lead to costly estate litigation, and/or the Will being declared invalid, which means that the estate must be distributed as if the person died without a Will.
Will preparation is undoubtedly important. But a Will is usually only one part of a comprehensive estate plan. Good estate planning also considers other issues, such as incapacity planning, wealth management, and tax implications.
It’s a mistake to ignore those other issues. Instead, think of your Will as the cornerstone of your comprehensive estate plan which, depending on your needs and the types of assets you own, may also include:
If you are unsure of how to make a Will in BC, reach out to us for straightforward, trusted advice. A Will is a legal document and it’s so important that you consult with a lawyer when you create legal documents. The estate planning team at Onyx Law Group can ensure that your estate is in order, which will put your and your family’s minds collectively at ease.
We have the knowledge and experience required to streamline the process and craft a Will that reflects your wishes.
Contact us today to discuss the preparation of your Will.
Onyx Law Group represents clients in family law, estate and trust litigation, estate planning and probate matters. Consult with our experienced team at
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be considered legal, financial, tax, medical, or any other professional advice.