Legitimate Wills and Estate planning is crucial for your family’s financial future. Without a Will, provincial law determines who will inherit your Estate. Rather than letting someone else determine what happens to your Estate and other assets, you should draft a Will with the assistance of a Lawyer. Estate planning is intended to preserve the maximum amount of wealth possible for your intended Beneficiaries and avoid unnecessary litigation.
Importance of Wills
It is important to create a Will to determine how your assets will be distributed after your death with a minimum of expense and delay. A valid Will created with the help of our Lawyers can ensure that your wishes will be carried out as stated by you. Naming your personal representatives can also be done through your Will. A Personal Representative or an Executor will be responsible for handling your assets after your death. If you and your spouse both die, a Will can also ensure that a Guardian chosen by you will be taking care of your children.
When Is a Will Valid?
A Will is valid only when it is in writing. Listed below are some factors determining the validity of a Will:
Proper witnesses - you must sign the Will in presence of two or more witnesses who will also sign the document.
Mental condition and age - you must be above 18 years of age and mentally competent.
Can You Make Changes to Your Will?
You are allowed to make changes to your Will as many times as you require. In fact, it is advisable to update your Will occasionally. However, you cannot just cross things out in your Will. A new Will should be drafted whenever changes or updates are required.
Please remember that important events such as marriage, separation, divorce, children, changes in your financial circumstances and the death of a family member should prompt you to review your Will.
What Happens If There Is No Will?
If you have not made a Will, your property will be distributed in accordance with the Wills and Succession Act. A Personal Representative will be appointed by the Court to manage your assets. Without a Will, you will be unable to make important decisions such as choosing a Guardian for your children or naming your Beneficiaries.
The Wills and Succession Act will determine how your assets will be split in the absence of a Will. Factors such as the net value of your Estate and the presence of children affect the decisions made by the legislation. For example, if you have no children but just a spouse, your entire Estate will go to your spouse. Please consult with us to better understand the Wills and Succession Act.
Can Your Spouse or Children Alter the Court’s Decision?
If you haven’t made a Will or adequately provided for your spouse or children in the event of your death, they may have the right to ask the Court to change the terms of your Will. The Court will take decisions that it believes are fair and just in such circumstances.
What Is an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)?
An EPA is a document you sign wherein you authorize another person to manage your financial affairs. Generally an EPA comes into effect when you lose your mental capacity with a declaration of incapacity to make sound decisions. No Court order is required to make it valid. The EPA allows the selected individual to make decisions for your benefit or for the benefit of those who you have specifically named. Since the named attorney can choose to make important decisions such as transferring a property out of your name, you must be very careful in choosing the candidate.
What Are Personal Directives or Living Wills?
Personal Directives are beneficial if you fall seriously ill or are unable to make decisions pertaining to your medical care by yourself. It is a written statement directed to your chosen agent as well as your healthcare providers that states how you should be taken care of. Personal Directives are created and signed when you are healthy and have sufficient mental capacity to make decisions in the presence of a Lawyer.
If you or a family member has lost the mental capacity to make sound decisions and no Personal Directive was made, the Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act authorizes the Court to choose a Trustee and a Guardian to take responsibility for your affairs. The Court monitors the Trustee and the Guardian to ensure the dependent adult’s needs are being met.
Estate planning includes the management of your Estate, money and assets in anticipation of your death. The Estate includes all the possessions owned by the person who made the Will (deceased) at the time of his or her death such as a house, cottage, automobiles, bank accounts, and investments. Our Medicine Hat probate Lawyers are able to act for the Estate itself, Beneficiaries of the Estate, or other interested third parties.
Reading of the Original Will
The Executor should locate and read the Will as soon as possible to secure the assets of the deceased and to ensure that the immediate needs of any dependants are taken care of and the expenses are addressed.
Role of a Personal Representative (Or Executor)
In the event of death, the Personal Representative(s) stated in your Will takes over the management of your assets and debts. He or she will settle the Estate and distribute the property to the Beneficiaries in accordance to the Will.
To ensure the Personal Representative carries out their responsibilities and obligations to the Estate, the Personal Representative should contact our office.
Duties of a Personal Representative (Or Executor)
Some of the principal duties and responsibilities of a Personal Representative include:
Arranging the deceased’s funeral according to his or her wishes
Taking possessions of the deceased’s property, documents and accounts
Notifying all financial institutions
Reviewing the deceased’s assets to determine liabilities and debts
Clearing all debts and paying the taxes
Distributing the estate to the Beneficiaries
If the deceased has not left any instructions regarding funeral arrangements, it may be up to the Personal Representative to choose an appropriate one.
Refusal to Be a Personal Representative
Any chosen Personal is under no obligation to act as a Personal Representative. However, you cannot easily renounce the responsibility after taking over the Estate. You must admit a renunciation in writing to the Surrogate Court if you wish to back out before you have taken control of the deceased’s property.
When Do the Duties of an Executor End?
Once the Estate has been settled, the Personal Representative’s duties come to an end. At this stage, all the debts should have been paid and the Estate would have been distributed according to the deceased’s instructions. If any assets are discovered after the Estate has been closed, the Personal Representative will have to resume his or her job until the asset is taken care of.
Role of an Estate Lawyer
Our Estate Lawyers can help a Personal Representative in the following ways:
Offer the Personal Representative professional advice about his or her duties
Assist the Personal Representatives with arranging and organizing the transfer of all assets and payments of debt
Prepare all the legal documents required
For information from our probate Lawyers in Medicine Hat, please call so we can get started helping you with your legal needs.