When you die, where will your assets go? Will your family be able to continue making use of the family home? Will your spouse be taken care of? Will your children reap the benefits of your hard work?
What happens when you grow too old to care for yourself? Who will your guardian be? Who will have the power to make medical or care decisions for you?
Proper estate planning answers all these questions and more. It exists to ensure your wishes are honored when your life is over, or as you approach the end of your life. The lawyers at Merchant Law are here to help you protect your interests with the help of every legal vehicle at your disposal.
What is estate planning?
Estate planning starts with a will, the most basic vehicle that communicates your wishes to the province when you die. You will need to choose an executor for that will as well. This document can communicate who you’d like to care for any minor children in addition to what you’d like done with your assets.
It may also include the formation of trusts, legal vehicles which maintain ownership of an asset but which pass control of that asset on to beneficiaries directly, circumventing the probate process. You might also need to name beneficiaries for all of your investments.
Choosing life insurance policies and disability policies and naming beneficiaries is a big part of the process as well. You may also communicate wishes for your funeral and plan for it.
You will select a future adult guardian and give that person power of lawyer if they’ll need it, as well.
It’s one of the most important financial and life decisions you’ll ever make, and the legal steps that must be taken to secure those wishes can be very complex. That’s why you’ll need a lawyer’s help to complete the process.
Who should be thinking about estate planning?
You should be thinking about estate planning if:
- Your net worth is in excess of $100,000.
- You have minor children.
- You have stepchildren who you’d like to provide for.
- Your family is likely to engage in estate litigation.
- You own real property or significant investments.
- You own a family farm or an inherited family home.
If you’re not sure, you can always speak to one of our lawyers, who can guide you. In most cases we can help your family save on estate taxes, avoid costly delays, and avoid the types of confusion that can lead to significant family feuds.
Who inherits when there’s no will in British Columbia?
British Columbia Courts will distribute your assets under the guidance of the Wills, Estates, and Succession Act. This is a “default” will. Under this Act, the first $300,000 of your assets goes to your spouse, if you have one and if you have children in common. If you do not, that spouse gets $150,000 and the balance of the remainder is split equally between the spouse and any children.
If the children are minors then a Public Guardian and Trustee will hold on to the money and pay it to them at the age of 19. The courts will also decide who raises your children.
If you have no spouse and no children your parents, brothers and sisters, or nieces and nephews are next in line. If you have no other kin, the government will take your property.
Why Merchant Law?
We can help you protect your interests. We have decades of experience helping people just like you plan for their futures. Contact us today to get started right away.