When a loved one takes the time to plan his or her estate, it can be a great comfort to family members. A well-crafted estate plan can leave little confusion at a time when emotions may be high. If your loved one created an estate plan that included a power of attorney designation, you may have assumed the chosen agent would act in the best interests of your loved one. However, like many in British Columbia and elsewhere, you may be uncertain that your loved one's goals are being met.
If you are left out of your parent's will, it is likely that there is a memo stating the reasons as to why you have been disinherited. A lawyer taking instructions for a will has to consider whether the will is vulnerable to an attack by a disinherited child. If a child is not given an appropriate share of their parent's estate, the lawyer will ask the will-maker the reasons why. These reasons are often recorded in a written document that is not disclosed until the will is questioned.
Most British Columbia residents do not have an estate plan in place. This means when they die, the courts will distribute their assets according to the laws of intestacy, which may not align with what the deceased would have wanted or satisfy the heirs. There are many reasons why people delay writing a will, and one of those reasons is the concern over its cost. Some even take a shortcut and handwrite their wills. However, when taking into consideration the expense one's loved ones may have to bear because of estate litigation over a holographic will, it may not be worth the savings.
It is an unfortunate fact that there are people who take advantage of elderly people, especially the elderly experiencing dementia and loneliness. Too often, this includes coercing or tricking an elderly person into creating a will that goes against his or her wishes or best interests.
With an aging population, many children find themselves working, assisting their children financially and also looking after a parent in their senior years. These children do this willingly but often, it means that they have to reduce their work hours or even quit a job. Most times, the responsibility of looking after mom or dad is not shared equally, one child contributes much more in time and money. Sometimes, that child is promised a greater share of the parent's estate in return for taking on these responsibilities.
The Memorial service was months ago. You are attempting to get used to being alone but the emotion of grief is still very raw. Now, you take some time to sort out your deceased spouse's finances. You start to receive threatening letters that say you are responsible for these debts. Revenue Canada and collection companies starts to phone you to collect. They are very persuasive. You are confused as to your rights but the creditors are very determined to get their money. In most cases, you are not liable to pay your late spouse's debts unless there is a specific written agreement making you liable. You may be liable if you have co-signed or guaranteed a credit card debt or loan. The terms and conditions of a loan or credit card agreement need to be reviewed carefully to determine whether you are liable. Put simply, you do not inherit your spouse's debts. An estate litigation lawyer can assist you dealing with creditors.
Creating an estate plan is not always easy, particularly if the person establishing the plan has specific ideas about how he or she wants to distribute the assets. Some in British Columbia may try to make it easy for everyone involved and simply divide the estate equally among the heirs. However, even this generous move can lead to confusion if the will is not worded carefully.