Wills and Trusts
One of the most basic components of an estate plan is a will. Your will details who is to receive specific portions of your estate – and at which time assets should be dispersed.
In B.C., if you pass without a will, you are considered to have died intestate and your estate can be divided by the courts. In cases where there is a spouse and children, assets are typically divided between the two. Parents, brothers and sisters, and other family members may receive portions of an estate as well, particularly in cases where no children or spouse are present.
A trust is similar to a will in that it is concerned with what should be done with assets after a person has passed. With a trust, all assets are placed into the hands of a trustee who holds onto them until they are to be distributed. This is common in cases where a beneficiary is underage.
Planning Your Estate
Estate planning is much more than property and asset division. The purchase of various insurance packages in preparation for long-term care and other potential expenses is important. So too is giving power of attorney to a trusted individual, enabling them to act as your agent – seeing that your intentions and honored and wishes met – should you become incapacitated or otherwise rendered incapable of making sound decisions.
Litigating Estate Disputes
Estate litigation can involve any disagreement regarding an estate or an estate plan. This may include:
- Contested wills
- Improper trust execution
- Breach of fiduciary duty
- Fiduciary misconduct
- Probate appeals
- Fee disputes
Estate litigation may center on undue influence, fraud, or similar issues. It may also revolve around end-of-life decisions, wishes regarding the religious and secular education of children, and other issues covered in your estate planning documents.
Estate disputes often occur between family members, making them more emotionally charged than other legal proceedings. Having an experienced, level, and compassionate lawyer on your side helps to ensure your interests are protected.