Last will and testament

How an Estate Lawyer Can Help Your Loved Ones when You Pass

Deaths in the family are filled with enough emotional difficulty, and having a poorly prepared Will or no Will at all can lead to extra stress for your family in an already difficult time. Having an estate lawyer assist you in succession planning while you are still alive and well will help make things much smoother for your family when you pass on.

Planning Ahead
It is never too early to seek the advice of our Will and estate lawyers in Kamloops. An estate lawyer can assist in the drafting of your Will, ensuring that it leaves no important questions unanswered, and that the Will is written with the appropriate legal terminology to reflect your wishes. What seems clear and unambiguous to a layperson may not be clear and unambiguous when it comes to the law.

An estate lawyer can help you work through questions you have, such as who to name as your executor and the pros and cons of different scenarios when it comes to dividing your assets among beneficiaries. Although it is always your choice as to what you put in your Will, a lawyer can highlight some of the problematic scenarios that could arise in your individual circumstances and will help you weigh your various options.

Disputes among family members and other loved ones are undesirable — nobody wants their own passing to result in bad relations among the people they care most about. Ensuring that your Will is drafted as clearly as possible, with the assistance of an estate lawyer, is a good way to minimize potential disputes, and to help your family avoid unnecessary litigation.

You may have seen precedent forms or “fill in the blank” kits aimed at helping you draft a valid Will. However, merely creating a valid Will does not mean that the Will is unambiguous or that it won’t cause disputes. If you take the inexpensive route now, your family members may incur great legal expenses after your passing, sorting through omissions and/or ambiguities and/or being embroiled in disputes that arise from the issues that arise as a result.

After You Pass
When you pass on, an estate lawyer in Kamloops can assist the executor in administering the estate in a legally compliant fashion, and seeing that no important steps are missed. This will help ensure that your loved ones receive the assets that they are entitled to in full, and in a timely manner.

Again, with a loved one’s death comes emotional turmoil and stress. An estate lawyer can help ease some of the responsibility faced by the executor, who may very well be a grieving family member or loved one.

Prior to assisting in distributing the estate, an estate lawyer can help the executor take the required steps to place the Will in probate (i.e., to have the court recognize the Will as legally valid). This is generally advisable and often necessary for any Will involving real property, investments, and other types of assets that will need to be legally transferred to beneficiaries.

An estate lawyer may also provide guidance to the executor when it comes to enlisting other professionals to assist in the administration of the estate. The executor could be unsure about certain tasks, such as preparing an estate tax return, investing the estate assets, and preparing accounts.

Bringing Important Issues Before the Court
Sometimes, seeking a court’s advice and direction is necessary to resolve ambiguities in a Will. In such situations, an experienced estate lawyer will be able to help the executor bring the matter before the court, have the issue decided and draft the necessary order for the judge to approve.

For example, in Chevrefils Estate, 2010 BCSC 753 (CanLII), the executor of an estate sought legal counsel to assist in an account passing for the estate and also to declare his legal entitlement to compensation for his administration of the estate. As this was a case where the deceased had passed on without a written Will, the executor’s counsel assisted in asking the court make a declaration that the distribution of the assets was fair and reasonable.

In Von Hopffgarten Estate v. Rommel, 2012 BCSC 393 (CanLII), the executor sought what proved to be valuable legal advice about whether it was legally allowable pursuant to the terms of the Will to sell the deceased’s farm in the U.S. The farm was a high-value piece of real property that the executor feared would be heavily taxed, possibly to the point of leaving the estate with a significant shortfall, should the tax need to be paid by the estate. The problem was, one of the beneficiaries was gifted the farm in accordance with the terms of the Will.

The lawyer determined the matter needed to be brought before the court, which ruled that the farm could not yet be sold, for various reasons about the uncertainty at that time of the actual tax implications. There were complex questions surrounding the interplay between two Wills that were executed — one relating to U.S. assets, and one relating to Canadian assets. Had the executor simply gone ahead and sold the farm without legal advice, the potential for serious legal implications and animosity among the beneficiary family members may have been dire.

Speak to an Experienced Estate Lawyer in Kamloops at Chahal Priddle LLP
If you are ready to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of upon your passing, contact our law firm in Kamloops. To set up your consultation, call 1‑877‑372‑3233 today.