If you were a client at DBM, you would hear us talk about wills and estate planning a lot. That’s because, if you have any assets, children or a life partner, there is simply no more important document you can make than your will. Your will makes sure that your precise wishes are carried out after your death: where your money, property, insurance, and other assets go; who will take care of your kids should there not be a surviving parent; and who will make sure your wishes are honoured.

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You have probably heard repeatedly that there are few financial aspects of your life more important than having a valid, up-to-date will. The estate lawyers at DBM warn that should you die without a will – legally called dying “intestate” – than your assets could be distributed in ways you did not intend. This is especially important if you have minor children, since if you die intestate than their guardian will be chosen by the court instead of who you want. To have a say in what happens after you pass away, your intentions must be written in a document such as a will or estate plan.

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In the British Columbia courts, a person’s last will can be contested under the Wills Variation Act. Wills variation claims arise when a child or spouse feels they have not been adequately provided for within a will or when there is another dispute over the fair dispersal of an estate.

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As the National Post has put it, stepfamilies are becoming the “new normal” in Canada. This is made evident by the fact that in 2011, the census counted stepfamilies for the first time, revealing that 12.6% of families in Canada are stepfamilies.

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Whether you’ve been named the executor of someone’s will or you are drafting your last will and testament and need to choose one for your estate, keep in mind these essential qualities of an executor. Though every will needs an executor, not every person is prepared to be one.

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Although we all recognize the need to draft a will to make sure our assets and belongings are passed along to our loved ones, it is easy to overlook the same need to prepare our “digital estates.” However, less than 30 years since the Internet became publically available, digital planning with your wills and estates lawyer has already become essential.

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Disinheritance occurs when a person legally excludes someone from their will who would normally be considered an heir. This includes spouses, children, and grandchildren.

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Although a will is intended to outline a person’s last wishes in full, settling an estate can nevertheless be a complicated process.

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The most secure way to prepare your last will and testament is with a wills and estates lawyer. While it is possible to write your own, a do-it-yourself will is no comparison for one drafted under guidance of a legal professional. A lawyer will take into account factors about estate planning you are most likely in danger of missing, which means that your last wishes will be met as you intended.

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There are many factors to consider when estate planning in British Columbia. This is especially true if you’re a small business owner.

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Setting up a trust happens for several reasons. These include ensuring family members’ financial stability in the future, donating funding to a favourite charity, and providing security for a dependent who has disabilities.

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Ideally, an executor of a will has told their family where their will is kept. But this isn’t always the case. If you can’t find the will of your relative, things become more complicated at an already difficult time for the family.

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When you’ve just finished planning out every rustic detail of your dream wedding at Minnekhada Lodge in the beautiful forests of Coquitlam, lawyers and estate planning and even more paperwork is the furthest thing from your mind.

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While there are several different scenarios that can lead to a person being disinherited by a parent, the end result is always the same: hurt and confusion. No one expects to find themselves in a disinheritance situation, and it often comes as an added shock during an already difficult time.

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Your Children Could Be Placed with the State The welfare of one’s child is the highest priority in any parent’s mind. Part of providing the best care for a child means making provisions for their happiness in any possible scenario—including one without you in it. If you don’t have a will, you don’t get any say in who looks after your children. In the absence of any appropriate relative, that could even be the state.

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Along with determining the guardianship of any minors and laying out funeral arrangements, one of the major functions of a will is determining what will be done with your estate. Giving gifts in a will means that your money, stocks and bonds, possessions, and any other assets are distributed according to your wishes, rather than being divided according to British Columbia law.

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How do you know when it’s time to prepare your first will? What about updating your existing will? We often put off thinking about our last will and testament, but there are certain life events that remind us of the need to put our final wishes into a legal and binding document.

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Of course, no one likes thinking about the end. It’s morbid, it’s gloomy, and let’s face it – no fun. So when it comes to drafting a will, people often put it off far too long. But the best thing you can do is just get it over with and rest easy knowing that your estate is in order and your next of kin will not be unduly stressed down the road.

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