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Vancouver Estate Administration And Litigation Blog

What property passes outside of a will?

While a will can incorporate many parts of your estate, it’s important to note that not all properties pass through a will. Some assets can pass outside of a will. As outlined on the Dial-a-law website, there are certain types of ownership or accounts that you can set-up that would pass outside of a will.

One of the more common examples is joint tenancy. This is where two or more people may own a property together. If one person gives up their ownership – either by choice, or involuntarily (such as a death) – the ownership would transfer to the surviving owners. For instance, if three people owned a cottage together in joint tenancy, one of those owners could not leave the cottage to his or her children in the will. If one owner passed away, the ownership of the cottage would transfer to the two surviving owners.

Incapacity and managing affairs

In order to acquire a certificate of incapability, the British Columbia College of Nursing Professionals requires the patient undergo a “medical and functional” assessment. As posted by the BCCNP, health officials are able to certify someone as incapable if they find the person in question is unable to manage their finances or health themselves.

With no one designated as a decision maker for financial or health decision, the office of the Public Guardian and Trustee can take over the responsibilities of the estate. You can read more about the technical details site, as well as the office of the Public Guardian and Trustee website.

Elder Abuse and Financial Abuse

Discussing what needs to be done and planned for when an elderly parent passes away can be a difficult decision for adult children. It can also be challenging to understand what decisions to make for elderly parents on their behalf when they are still alive, but unable to make decisions themselves.

However, these discussions are essential parts of estate planning. Not every family gets the chance to have these conversations while all parties involved have the mental capabilities to do so. It’s best to try and have these discussions earlier as you may not be able to have them later.

Understanding investing rules as a trustee

If someone you love and respect has designated you to be the trustee of a testamentary trust, you may already know the challenges ahead. Whether the trust was created to provide for a minor child, an individual with special needs or some other beneficiary, you can expect to devote much time and energy to managing the trust effectively according to the provisions in its documents.

Despite changes in tax laws regarding trusts, these are still valid estate planning tools for meeting the needs for which their grantors create them. With careful planning and investment, the assets funded to the trust can provide security and peace of mind to the beneficiaries. In order to fulfill this duty as a trustee, you may find it helpful to have some basic information about the laws in British Columbia regarding investing trust assets.

Should you proceed with challenging a will?

When someone you love dies, you probably will go through a grieving process that includes a heavy amount of sadness and anxiety. During this trying time, if you find out you were left out of your loved one's will, or you believe you aren't receiving your fair share, you may also feel anger, confusion and disappointment. But there are things you may be able to do to rectify the situation.

If your partner passes away and his or her will seems unfair to you, the court – by way of the Wills, Estates and Succession Act – may change the will to provide for you and any children. That law is the same for those who are legally married or those who are common-law spouses who have been living together for at least two years.

Power of attorney abuse, and where to turn for support

When you grant someone power of attorney rights, you likely make the choice by how much you trust the individual. Unfortunately, there have been instances when that choice hasn't been an ideal one and the chosen individual misuses and/or abuses his or her powers. If you find yourself dealing with an abusive attorney, there are things you can do to try to rectify the situation.

If you discover your attorney is being abusive by way of your finances, property or anything else of value, you may need the assistance of the court to recoup any lost assets. A POA is in effect until you either revoke it, you pass away or if you are no longer able to make decisions that allow you to provide guidance to your attorney - unless of course you have an enduring POA.

When adults need guardians

When older loved ones can no longer make decisions for themselves, you might have to step up to the plate and do so for them. As some people grow older, they experience memory loss, which could make decision-making difficult for them. Some forms of disability or injury could also increase the likelihood of some adults needing guardians.

Getting the court to appoint you as a guardian could be time-consuming and potentially costly. If you are already the power of attorney for your loved one, you could already be in a position to help. The Ontario Health Care Consent Act stipulates when relatives can make certain decisions for their incapacitated loved ones.

Beware of the challenges of being an executor of an estate

When a loved one or a trusted friend in British Columbia asks you to be the executor of his or her estate, it is a great honour. It shows that he or she regards you as a trustworthy person who will be able to handle the necessary tasks to close the estate. These include the collection of assets, settlement of debts, filing of the necessary tax returns and the distribution to the beneficiaries.

However, be aware that you have a choice if you are asked to be an executor, and the acceptance of the appointment is up to you. It is important to understand the challenges you will have to face before you give your approval to take on the responsibility.