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Wills, Trusts, and Incapacity Planning

 LOOKING FOR A NEW WILL OR TRUST?

Our lawyers can plan your legacy and reduce future costs.

Estate planning is more than just a will. It involves the naming of beneficiaries for life insurance policies and RRSPs, the setting up of trusts, and planning in advance to reduce fees. When you come in to make a Will, we take the time to review your situation so that we can create a proper estate plan for you. A properly drafted will can save your estate thousands of dollars.

pen-in-hand-1460347-638x390Click here to Download the Free Estate Planning Guide and Information Gathering Form. (.pdf)

Many of our will referrals come from financial advisors and other lawyers who know we have the experience and knowledge in estate planning to properly serve their clients. Clayton Loewen and Josh Bach are frequent presenters on the topic of Estate Planning. We also work with individuals to make charitable gift arrangements and ensure the proceeds of your estate are distributed in a prudent manner.

We also help you plan in case you experience physically or mental challenges. A good estate plan includes Powers of Attorney, Representation Agreements and Advanced Directives.

What Common Estate Planning Tools Are There?

WILLS

Wills are documents that determine how your assets (known as an “Estate”) are distributed when you die. A Will may be changed at any time while you have the required mental capacity. Your Will appoints an “Executor” (and usually a backup) whose responsibility is to gather information about your estate, pay off your debts with your money, and distribute assets according to your Will.

Your Will may include specific gifts or be accompanied by a statement of wishes containing instructions on how you prefer your personal items to be distributed. You can name a guardian for children or specify burial plans in your Will. If you want to make a gift to a child or disabled person, or have your assets slowly distributed, you can appoint the Executor or another person as a Trustee.

If you plan to exclude or limit a spouse or child’s entitlement under a Will, you should be aware that the Wills, Estates, and Succession Act allows your spouse or children to challenge your Will. Integra Law Group can advise you how this works, how to best preserve your estate plan, or how you treat your assets before you die so as to reduce Probate fees or other costs.

If you own a company, a farm corporation, or private shares, consider separating your estate into two Wills and potentially lower probate costs.

We require: Your Executors’ names and addresses, and the addresses of any beneficiaries who are not immediate family. Prior to seeing a lawyer, you should consider how you want your estate to be divided, and ask a family member or friend if they would serve as your Executor.

POWER OF ATTORNEYS (POA)

A Power of Attorney (POA) is a document that allows a family member or a friend to conduct financial transactions for you while you are alive. The POA generally becomes effective as soon as you sign it, but you may ask Integra Law Group to release the POA to your Attorney only under certain circumstances. Typically, a broad POA is granted, but Integra Law Group can also draft a more restrictive one.

If you ever become seriously injured or mentally incapable of handling your financial transactions, a POA allows your appointed Attorney to access your bank account, sell property or cash in your RRSPs. If you own property jointly with another person, a POA could grant each other the power to mortgage or sell the property in case one of you becomes incapacitated.

We require: Your proposed Attorney’s (and alternates) name and address and date of birth.

REPRESENTATION AGREEMENTS

A Representation Agreement (RA) allows you to designate a family member or friend to make health care, personal care, financial or certain legal decisions for you or gather information related your health care on your behalf. A RA is useful if you do not have immediate family, your family situation is complex or you have different beliefs or values than your family. You can designate one or more individuals to make those decisions on your behalf or delegate responsibilities to different individuals.

We require: Your proposed Representative’s (and alternates) name and address and date of birth.

ADVANCED DIRECTIVES (LIVING WILLS)

An Advanced Directive allows you to give or refuse consent in advance to certain types of medical treatments in the event that you are not capable of giving the instruction at the time the treatment is required. An AD is useful if you have strong beliefs or values about medical treatment (including end of life care, resuscitation, comas, artificial nourishment, blood transfusions, etc) and do not wish to delegate this authority to someone else under a Representation Agreement.

Advanced Directive Note: A doctor or another medical professional may provide you with information on various medical procedures or treatments.

TRUSTS

Trust Agreements can often be used to help transfer assets outside of an estate, to avoid probate fees, delays with estates or potential problems created by how BC law allows children to challenge a parents will. Trust agreements can also be used to protect vulnerable individuals from financial abuse or to preserve disability benefits.

Trust Agreements can also be drawn up while a person is alive or can form part of a Will to protect a beneficiary’s inheritance.