Life is filled with uncertainties, and while we all hope for the best, it’s crucial to prepare for the unexpected. One essential legal document that everyone should consider having is a will. As a Wills and Estates Lawyer in beautiful British Columbia, I have witnessed firsthand the tremendous peace of mind and protection that a well-crafted will can provide for individuals and their families. In this blog post, I’ll share why having a will is not just a wise choice, but a necessary one in the context of BC’s unique legal landscape.
1. Ensuring Your Wishes Are Honoured
A will allows you to specify how you want your home, possessions, and other assets to be distributed among the people and charities that are important to you. Through a will, you can designate an Executor, an individual responsible for managing your assets and ensuring their distribution aligns with your specified instructions.
In the absence of a will, your estate may be distributed according to the intestacy provisions under the British Columbia Wills, Estates and Succession Act, which may not align with your preferences. It’s essential to note that, if you have a spouse or children, the Wills, Estates and Succession Act requires that you make adequate provisions for them.
2. Protecting Your Loved Ones (Guardianship for Minors and Pets)
If you have children who are under the age of 19, a will enables you to appoint a guardian of your choice who will assume responsibility for their well-being following your passing, if your children do not have another surviving parent. This ensures that your children will be cared for by someone you know and trust.
A will can also empower you to make plans or name successor guardians for the continued care of your beloved animal companions. The intestacy provisions of the Wills, Estates and Succession Act have no provisions for the ongoing care of pets.
3. Minimize Family Disputes
Family conflicts can be especially devastating when dealing with the loss of a loved one. A clear and comprehensive will can help minimize potential conflicts among family members regarding the distribution of your estate.
By clearly outlining your wishes, you reduce ambiguity and provide a legal framework that helps prevent disagreements over your estate and minimize the potential for disputes and litigation among family members.
4. Tax Implications
In British Columbia, there are estate taxes to consider, including the provincial probate fee. Effective estate planning, including a will, can serve to decrease the tax liabilities placed on your estate. This, in turn, allows for the preservation of a greater portion of your assets for the benefit of your family members and beneficiaries. We suggest seeking guidance from your accountant and financial advisor for tax-related counsel.
5. Business Succession Planning
If you own a business in British Columbia, a specific will dealing with your privately held company shares and business assets, is one essential part of your succession plan. A secondary or restricted will enables you to specify who will take over your business interests and how it will be managed or sold, ensuring a smooth transition for your business assets without the complexity of probate.
6. Peace of mind
Creating a will gives you a sense of tranquility, assuring you that your affairs are well-organized, and your desires will be honoured. It provides a sense of security for you and your loved ones.
7. Do not Wait – Secure Your Legacy Now
As a Wills and Estates Lawyer, I strongly encourage everyone, regardless of age or wealth, to consider creating or updating their will. It’s a proactive and responsible step that can provide immeasurable benefits during a difficult time and help you leave a lasting legacy that reflects your values and desires. Don’t wait— book a free 30 minute consultation with our legal team to start the process of creating your will today. Your future self and your loved ones will thank you for it.
Meet the Author