"New Normal" - Remote Witnessing for Wills and Powers of Attorney
Updated: May 5, 2020
The pandemic that we currently face has triggered drastic changes in the ways in which we live, the ways in which we work, and the ways in which we interact with the world around us. As we continue to adjust to our "new normal" during COVID19, we have all had to make changes, and we have had to do so rapidly. The ways in which we normally operate have no longer been feasible, and we have had to adjust, on what seems like on a daily basis, to procedures that keep ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities safe.
Enduring powers of attorney are an important planning tool and are essential to ensuring that one's affairs are properly managed in the event you become incapable. However, you need to be very careful when granting such wide ranging authority to another person, since you may end up at their mercy. This may have been the case in the recent documentary series "Tiger King", wherein Carole Baskin (the operator of Big Cat Rescue in Florida) ended up in possession of a power of attorney over her first husband, Don Lewis. The documentary series explores allegations that Carole Baskin murdered Don Lewis (then fed him to her tigers, perhaps after covering him in sardine oil to make his dismembered corpse more appetizing) and then utilized her power of attorney to assert control over his assets and estate in his absence.
If you have been (binge) watching "Tiger King" like us, a new Netflix documentary series, you are no doubt aware of the allegation that Carole Baskin (the operator of Big Cat Rescue in Florida) murdered her first husband, Don Lewis, and fed him to her tigers. Joe Exotic, the now-imprisoned "Tiger King" himself, theorizes that she did this to gain control of his substantial assets and take over their shared tiger sanctuary. Not exactly a credible source, but an interesting theory nonetheless.
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 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.