Estate planning is rarely on the top of anyone’s to-do list. People avoid it for many reasons: they are too busy, they don’t want to think about death, they don’t understand why they need to do it, or they think it doesn’t apply to them. Sound familiar? April 7 to 13, 2019 is Make-a-Will-Week in…
I recently received a letter from a reader asking what the consequences are of dying without a will? Surprising, just 55 percent of British Columbians have a signed, legally valid and up-to-date will. BC’s new Wills, Estates and Succession Act (“WESA”) dictates how your estate will be divided if you die without a will. It…
Canadians love to give to charity. A 2010 Statistics Canada report suggests that 84% of Canadians over 15 years donated to charitable and nonprofit organizations at an average donation of around $446 per year (a total of $10.6 billion a year). Whether to support an organization that has touched their life in a meaningful way, a school or university that…
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Wills & Estates?
The Wills and Estates Department offers three areas of legal services:
- Estate Planning – we help our clients plan for their family’s future
- Probate and Estate Administration – We help executors administer an estate after a loved one has died; and
- Estate Litigation – we assist with conflicts relating to estates.
The Wills and Estates team creates custom estate planning strategies and documents for individuals and their businesses to protect the next generation and to preserve and pass on wealth.
We work with our client’s trusted team of advisors to build an estate plan. We typically work alongside our client’s accountant, financial advisor, corporate solicitor and other trusted advisors to provide a team approach to planning, ensuring a comprehensive and effective plan tailored to our client’s unique needs.
A comprehensive estate plan typically includes a Will, Power of Attorney and Representation Agreement. Depending on each client’s unique situation, additional planning amy be necessary including:
- Trust planning:
- Alter Ego or Spousal Trust;
- Family Trust; or
- Disability Trust;
- Business Succession Planning and Estate Freezes;
- Planning for beneficiaries with disabilities and addictions;
- Planning for modern and blended families; and
- Planned giving.
Many clients assume that their planning is “simple” and it is not until they consult with our team and learn about the legal considerations related to their assets and intentions, that complexities become apparent. Consequently, an initial consultation meeting with our team is the best way for us to identify any complexities in a client’s plan. Complex situations may include:
- Extensive and/or complex assets or debts;
- A ‘blended’ or second family situation;
- Trust planning including intervivos planning, testamentary or spousal trusts;
- Private corporation interests;
- Business succession and / or reorganization considerations;
- Family conflict planning;
- Extrajurisdictional assets;
- Disability planning; and
- Involvement of corporate trustee/attorney
Our fees are based only on the time we spend working for you. The cost to complete your planning is dependent on the complexity of your assets, your family, and your wishes.
Estate planning services are about much more than the drafting and execution of a Will and other planning documents. A significant portion of our team’s time is spent educating our clients, gathering information, working with other trusted advisors, reviewing the pros and cons of various planning options, seeking instructions, building and perfecting a custom estate plan, and finally executing the final documents.
Probate and Estate Administration Services
When someone dies, a court ordered ‘Grant of Probate’ is often required in order for an executor to settle a deceased person’s final debts and to pass assets on to the beneficiaries of an estate.
We assist executors with obtaining a Grant of Probate and then administering the estate of their loved one quickly and cost effectively. Our services include:
- Complete a Wills search;
- Gather information about the estate and beneficiaries;
- Determine value of assets and debts of the deceased;
- Give notice to all parties entitled to notice of the grant application under the Rules of Court;
- Assist when soemone dies without a Will (“intestate”);
- Prepare all forms to apply for a Grant of Probate (or Administration if intestate);
- Transfer estate assets to the executor;
- Assist with executor’s accounting to beneficiaries;
- Prepare indemnities and releases from beneficiaries;
- Distribute assets to beneficiaries;
- Assist with application for Clearance Certificate; and
- Assist with any conflict during this process and refer to in-house estate litigation services where required.
Too often, conflict arises during the administration of an estate. Our Wills and Estates team works in conjunction with our litigation team at Pihl and provides comprehensive litigation services for executors, trustees, or beneficiaries of an estate.
Services by our litigation team include:
- Negotiating and resolution of conflict before litigation is required;
- Assistance with all estate litigation matters;
- Wills variation actions;
- Claims or concerns involving undue influence;
- Concerns about the transfer of property to a family member; and
- Disputes about the validity of a Will, or the capacity of a will-maker to make a Will.