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Vancouver Estate Administration And Litigation Blog

The dos and don’ts of serving as a guardian for your parent

A parent falling ill is a devastating experience for any child, even adult children. There can be a host of unexpected issues and obstacles that arise, particularly if a parent’s condition renders them unable to make decisions or take care of themselves.

In these situations, an adult child could be named as their parent’s guardian or committee. This can be uncomfortable, as children typically are used to having things the other way around. If you find yourself in this situation, it can be helpful to understand what to do and what not to do if the courts appoint you as committee.

Who should you assign as a substitute decision-maker?

Naming people to manage your financial and medical affairs if you become incapacitated is one of the most critical components of your estate plan. It ensures that someone you know and trust will step in if you cannot make decisions for yourself. 

In choosing someone to make decisions on your behalf, you should appreciate what this person would need to do. What choices could they be faced with? What types of situations must they navigate?

4 reasons to talk to your parents about their estate plan

Discussions about end-of-life care, dying and distribution of property can be uncomfortable for many people. People don’t like to think about these things; bringing them up with your parent can feel intrusive and awkward.

However, avoiding these discussions can have numerous long-term consequences, including the increased potential for estate litigation. If you are on the fence about talking to your parent about their wishes or estate plans, consider why doing so can be critical.

Is there a right way to disinherit someone?

Family relationships are complicated, and these complications can become especially evident in the wake of someone’s death. Under such difficult circumstances, the process of distributing his or her assets can bring to light some painful realisations.

One such realization is that the decedent has disinherited someone in the family. Whether this comes as a total surprise or doesn’t make sense, the act of disinheriting someone can be uniquely polarizing. If you are thinking about leaving someone out of your will, you should know how you might proceed to save your loved ones some pain.

Does your loved one's will accurately reflect his or her wishes?

When a loved one passes away, perhaps the only thing that can make the event more upsetting is a contentious or lengthy legal process. Having a will in place can avoid many of these and other challenges that can arise during probate and the governance of the estate.

That said, simply having a will is not always sufficient for preventing disputes. For instance, if your loved one had a will, but you suspect that it does not accurately reflect his or her wishes, you may need to ask the courts to declare the will invalid.

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.