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You've seen them. Do-it-yourself will kits. A good way to save money, right? Maybe not.
A lawyer can help you work through many issues: Should you divide your assets equally between your children? If you do, what are the human costs and potential legal problems? Do you wish to leave some assets to a previous spouse? What do you want to do with your family business? Should you leave anything to Cancer research? How much would that really cost, after tax? With probate application fees as high as they are, legal advice on minimizing them would be helpful.
See article in our probate section on: "What happens if I die and have no will?”
To be effective, a will must mean what you think it means, and be properly signed and witnessed strictly within the rules. For example, if your son-in-law witnesses your will, does this complicate any gift to your daughter? Do you anticipate that there will be “disputes” over what and/or how, you wish to leave certain assets to who?
What about setting up a “trust fund(s)” and selecting trustees? For example what if your spouse or one of your children is mentally / physically challenged, perhaps already in a residential care program? You may need to consult with financial and legal professionals as to how to ensure a trust fund has the resources and flexibilty to look after potential quality of life enhancements that you wish are maintained/assessed/changed e.g. including outings to attend special cultural/entertainment events, assisting friends / relatives living at some distance with travel costs to regularly visit your spouse or child. An experienced lawyer can prepare a will that is legally enforceable.
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A professionally prepared will helps minimize the risk of a court challenge under the Wills, Estates and Succession Act (WESA 2014), see www.bclaws.ca/civix/ document/id/ complete/ statreg/09013_01 for a online copy of the WESA legislation ). Relying on notes on your file, your lawyer can testify about conversations with you. This could prove to a court you were competent to give instructions.
A lawyer can also help ensure that the will prepared for you is your final will, and will help you safeguard against the risk of other documents being produced after your death that do not truly reflect your wishes.
Thus, if a professionally prepared will costs only a small percentage of your estate's value, your peace of mind is well worth the investment.
The above information is in part due to pro bono assistance given by Charlotte Salomon, BA JD, Victoria BC wills, estates and probate lawyer. see her profile at : lawyers-bc.com Victoria wills lawyers - Charlotte Salomon
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This page last updated: 2014.05.16 2253
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