Incapacitation is always a possibility. People suffer illnesses and injuries that could make it impossible for them to make decisions for themselves. Many British Columbia residents prepared for this eventuality by executing powers of attorney in which they entrust their finances and health to someone they trust. Sadly, not everyone deserves that trust, and estate litigation could ensue because of it.
One of the most difficult things in life is watching an elderly parent lose his or her mental faculties. As parents get older, they may be in the difficult and dangerous position of being unable to care for themselves or manage their own affairs. In such cases, British Columbia residents may have the heavy burden of seeking committeeship over their parents.
British Columbia residents may make bequests to their loved ones as they see fit. However, the terms of those bequests must meet certain standards in order to avoid wills and estates litigation. Below are examples of the types of standards individual bequests must meet in order to remain valid upon death.
When British Columbia residents are asked to serve as executors by family or friends, they may want to think carefully before accepting. Even though they may feel honored that someone would trust them with something so important, it pays to better understand what will be expected of them before agreeing to serve in this capacity. The simple fact is that when an executor makes mistakes, it can lead to wills and estates litigation.
In creating an estate plan, British Columbia residents often execute documents not meant to handle their affairs after death, but instead, to handle them if they become incapacitated. They appoint a power of attorney to act on their behalf when they cannot make decisions for themselves. The creator of the document believes the person chosen to take on this crucial responsibility is trustworthy and will fulfill their obligations to the incapacitated person.
Even British Columbia residents who do not yet have an estate plan often understand the utility of having one. Making sure that surviving loved ones receive the inheritance they intend requires careful planning, but even with it, some obstacles could arise. For instance, what happens to joint property prior to death could derail the best-laid plans if a joint owner has unpaid debts or too much access to the asset.
A common law spouse is someone who has lived with a partner as if married for a certain period of time. British Columbia law allows those in common law relationships many of the same rights as married couples have, including those rights to inherit property after the death of the partner. However, claiming these rights can be complicated, and it should not be surprising when it leads to estate litigation.
Not everyone in British Columbia fully understands the importance of estate planning. Even for a simple estate with limited assets, a solid estate plan can relieve survivors of the confusion that comes with not knowing what the deceased would have wanted for his or her estate. This confusion may lead to disputes when loved ones disagree over the best steps to take, and those disputes may result in estate litigation.
When a British Columbia resident passes away, his or her family will eventually have to get down to the business of closing out that person's affairs. As that process begins, family members will first need to locate that individual's estate planning documents, particularly the will. This process could be made simpler if the decedent filed a wills notice with the Vital Statistics Agency here in the province. Otherwise, the probate process could easily degrade into wills and estates litigation.
The executor of an estate has many serious responsibilities following the death of the estate owner. Often, individuals name an adult child to handle the duties of estate executor, and this is not always the most prudent decision. One situation that may prove volatile is if the owner of the estate was in possession of firearms. British Columbia law is very strict about how executors must deal with firearms in an estate, and failing to follow these rules may lead to legal trouble.