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.
After the death of a loved one, family members may run into any number of conflicts while closing out the estate. If the loved one left an estate plan, it may contain questionable instructions, but having no will can leave even more confusion. When there are disputes, it is common for heirs to seek a more peaceful resolution, such as mediation, rather than dragging their family members through court.
If a loved one dies and leaves behind a will, the deceased likely expects the will to convey his or her desires for the distribution of the estate. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. Occasionally, the heirs to a British Columbia estate dispute the contents of a will, especially when the amount of inheritance is much lower than they expected or they are omitted from the will altogether. When this happens, they may question whether they have the right to challenge a will and how to start the process.
When British Columbia residents create their estate plans, one task is to choose someone to handle the administration of the estate after death. There are some laws regarding who can serve as an executor, but otherwise, the choice belongs to the person creating the will. It should be someone the testator trusts and believes can do the job. It should also be someone who wants to take on the responsibilities.
In many British Columbia families, there may be certain assets that are cherished and coveted by more than one person. A business owner, for example, may have several children who aspire to take over the company at some point, or a mother may own a precious piece of jewelry that two daughters each hope to inherit. When estate owners fail to make wills to stipulate how to divide their property, they may leave their families struggling to resolve these matters, potentially in court.