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Vancouver Estate Planning Lawyers

Building an Estate Plan in Vancouver, Canada

If you want to safeguard your legacy and ease your passing for family, friends, and loved ones, you need a well-crafted estate plan. At Pacific Cascade Family Law, our Vancouver estate planning attorneys will take all the necessary steps to ensure you get the help you need with your estate plan.

To schedule a consultation with our team or learn more about our estate planning services, contact us online or via phone at (888) 981-9511.

Getting an Advance Directive & Will in Canada

Many people are unaware that most wills actually have two components - a living will, also often called an advance directive, and a last will and testament.

When you think of a traditional will, where a person designates their last wishes (such as whether they would like to be cremated or buried) and who they would like to hand their property down to, what you're picturing is a last will and testament.

You can also use a last will and testament to appoint a guardian for your children, if you have any. Last but certainly not least, a last will and testament can be used to designate an executor who will be responsible for handling the will owner's estate when they pass away (become a decedent).

In addition to a last will and testament, having a living will or advance directive is also important. A living will lets you assign medical and financial power of attorney to someone, enabling that individual (or those individuals) to ensure you receive the medical care you deserve and make sure your estate is handled properly if you lack the capacity to make decisions that serve your best interests. Medical and financial power of attorney often come into play when an older person suffers from a memory-related condition, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, and can no longer make decisions for themselves, or are incapacitated.

Once you die, your estate goes into probate. During probate, the probate court takes the necessary steps to ensure your estate is properly distributed. This includes validating your will, paying back any creditors the estate or decedent had outstanding debts to, and ensuring that the beneficiaries named in the decedent's will receive the property they were awarded. Generally, the person named in the will as the executor works with the probate court to handle any issues and ensure the process goes smoothly.

To create a valid will in Canada, you must:

  • Be at least 16 years old;
  • Have the will in writing as a physical copy, even if it is typed;
  • Sign the will with at least two valid witnesses present. Neither witness can be the executor of the will. Both must also sign the will to confirm it.

Having your will notarized by a notary public is not strictly necessary, but it could help the probate court assess the validity of your will more easily.

Do I Need a Trust in Canada?

In Canada, just like the U.S., most people use a trust to award property to a beneficiary without said property going through probate.

Probate can be a long, expensive process. However, property awarded to an individual in a trust is technically owned by the trust, not the decedent's estate. As a result, that property doesn't need to play a role in probate.

As such, living revocable trusts - which can be changed throughout the settlor's life and are designed to pass property onto the individual(s) named in the trust upon their death - often play a large role in estate plans.

To make a living trust, the settlor (the person with the estate plan) typically puts the terms of the trust in writing. While doing so, they must clearly identify the property they wish to hand down through the trust, as well as the recipients of that property. The settlor must also appoint a trustee, who will be responsible for handling the trust when they pass away. Both the settlor and the trustee must sign the trust.

At Pacific Cascade Family Law, our Vancouver estate planning attorneys will help you draft a comprehensive estate plan that includes documents such as an advance directive, last will and testament, and trust to ensure your legacy is secure.

To schedule a consultation with one of our Vancouver estate planning lawyers and learn more about our services, contact us onlineor via phone at (888) 981-9511.

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