A Will is the best way to ensure that the people, charities and organizations you cherish most receive the benefit of your estate. Your Will is also your last communication with your family and friends and your opportunity to leave clear instructions on how you want your assets to be handled, and how you want your legacy and final wishes to be carried out.  Without a Will, the Courts decide who gets what, without regard to your wishes or your heirs’ needs and your estate may not be distributed in the way you would have wished.  Having a Will is also important to avoid the higher costs, avoidable delays and even potential squabbling among family members as to who gets which parts of the estate.

April 10th to 16th, 2016, is Make-a-Will Week in British Columbia and its purpose is to encourage the public to write their Will or bring an existing Will up-to-date.

If you don’t have a Will, you’re not alone. According to a 2010 report for BC Notaries, just 49 per cent of British Columbians have a signed, legally valid and up-to-date Will.

Making a Will is especially important for people with young children, because Wills are the best way to transfer guardianship of minors and to provide instructions on their care, as well as how and when the parents want the children to receive their inheritance.

As each person has a unique family and asset picture, their Wills should be specifically drafted for their needs.   Beware of “one size fits all” Will tools, which fail to address the unique family profile of each client. The resulting Will may not meet your estate planning needs or may not accurately reflect your wishes. Notaries provide Will services and may be a good option for individuals who require a very simple Will.  However, it must be understood that Notaries are unable to provide the same depth of legal knowledge and advice that a lawyer can provide for more complex situations.

A solid Will and Estate plan is a good investment. The cost to have a Will written depends on the complexity of your situation.   In the event that a dispute arises with respect to the validity of your Will or your estate, litigation costs in BC Supreme Court often exceed $50,000.  So it is prudent to ensure you invest in and receive quality advice at the time you make your Will to avoid much more significant costs later.

When you prepare your Will, it is a very good time to consider some other key legal planning documents including a Power of Attorney, a Representation Agreement and/or an Advance Health Care Directive.  These are documents that name another person to have authority to make financial, legal, personal care and/or health care related decisions for you while you are alive.

It is also important to remember that once you make a Will, it is important to review it regularly to make sure it reflects your circumstances.

Pihl Law Corporation provides Wills and Estates legal services. Please contact our Wills and Estates Lawyers at 250.762.5434 or at [email protected]

The information provided above is for educational purposes only. This information is not intended to replace the advice of a lawyer or address specific situations. Your personal situation should be discussed with a lawyer. If you have any questions or concerns, contact a legal professional.

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