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Vancouver Estate Litigation Blog

What happens if I die without a will?

This is a question many people may think to themselves if they keep putting off making a will. It’s quite normal to put off making a will, as its creation means thinking about something unfortunate – what will happen to your loved ones and your property in the event of your passing.

However, not having a will could leave your surviving family and friends in a challenging situation. Generally speaking, your assets will be distributed as per British Columbia estate laws. This means however you wanted your property and assets distributed may not be how it gets divided. Whatever your intentions were, if you did not leave behind a valid will, there’s no clear blueprint for what you would have wanted.

Do you need to remove someone as the executor of an estate?

Do you know an executor that is not performing their duties? A failing executor can cost estate thousands of dollars in fines and late fees.

The role of executor is also legally binding. If they are mishandling money or are maliciously denying a benefactor their full inheritance, they could face serious legal penalties.

What Is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is making arrangements for your personal and financial affairs to be looked after in the event of your passing, or your inability to make decisions for yourself. Many people may think that a will alone is sufficient, but estate planning goes far beyond the creation of a will.

Creating trusts, enduring powers of attorney, and taking care of assets that may pass outside of a will or testamentary document are just some of the factors you may want to consider when you think about creating a will.

Can I revoke my will if I change my mind?

You've written your will and were very happy with it at the time. But circumstances change. Maybe you're getting married. Maybe you are disagreeing with a planned beneficiary and want to delete them from your will. Maybe your newborn child must be included in your will. Perhaps a beneficiary has died with no heirs for your bequest to go to - or has died and you don't want to leave anything to your proposed beneficiary's heirs.

Would a guardianship benefit your loved one?

Realizing that an aging loved one may no longer be able to care for him or herself can be disheartening. To watch someone that you used to look up to and rely on throughout your life decline physically and/or mentally may lead you to decide that he or she needs help.

Perhaps you already decided that your loved one needs a guardianship, but you aren't sure where to begin or what it means for your loved one.

Will preparation is necessary for a well-rounded estate plan

You're probably not running around frantically trying to write your will. No one likes to think about his or her own demise, but the fact is, writing a will is the only certain way you have of letting your loved ones know your last wishes.

So, if you want to leave certain things to certain people in the aftermath of your passing - like money, personal items, property or your pet Iguana - a will is the estate planning document in which to spell it all out.

Ensuring someone can make medical decisions for you if needed

Giving someone power to make healthcare decisions for you when you aren't able to make them yourself is placing a great deal of trust in that person. It's important that whomever you choose for the task is aware of your wishes and will honestly act in your best interests -- to make the decisions you likely would have made for yourself.

The person you name to fulfill this critical role via a representation agreement can make decisions on your behalf regarding your overall health care, including the likes of your nutritional needs, the clothes you wear, where you live, your hygiene and your overall safety. These are many of the items that should be discussed between you and the individual you choose for this role, and having everything written in a document, or healthcare directive, is an important part of the process.

The positives of estate planning

Estate planning is about much more than what you leave for your heirs after you die. You may even be avoiding thinking about planning your estate because you might associate it with your ultimate demise, and who wants to think about that? But it's not just about you, it's about your family too and what would be best for them.

There are many things that encompass a thorough estate plan, which typically includes directives on what you would like done should you be unable to make decisions on your own. For instance, would you want doctors to keep you alive on life support or with feeding tubes? Who would you want to take care of financial decisions on your behalf? These are the kinds of questions that your estate plan could address.