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Garton & Harris Wills and Estates Blog

Do you have grounds to contest a will?

Shock, disappointment and confusion may be just a few of the emotions you felt when you learned that your loved one's will was not what you expected. In fact, perhaps you had seen your parent's will, and the contents of the will discovered after his or her death was not the same as the one you had read. The sudden and drastic changes in the distribution of your parent's estate has raised suspicion, and you wonder if you have cause to contest the will in court.

Disputing the contents of a will is a complex and challenging undertaking. After all, your loved one is not present to defend or explain the choices in the will, and the courts tend to assume the will expresses the wishes of the deceased. However, there are some grounds for setting aside the contents of a will.

What You Should Know About Representation Agreements

Power of attorney is commonly referenced when discussing estate matters but it’s a topic that can cause confusion. More often than not, a power of attorney gives another person the authority to act on your behalf regarding financial matters should you become incapacitated.

Like having power of attorney, a representation agreement allows for another person to act on your behalf in the event that you are unable to but instead of or in addition to financial matters, they can make decisions about your health.

Understanding No CPR Orders

In British Columbia, patients who are nearing the natural end of their lives or suffer from a life-limiting or life threatening illness have the right to create a No Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (No CPR) form.

The main purpose of the form is to inform first responders and health care providers that in the event of sudden cardiac or pulmonary failure, the patient does not wish to receive CPR or any other form of emergency medical care.

Planning An Estate For A Blended Family

Nowadays, there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ family which is something to be celebrated. Having the freedom to decide how to live with the people you love is a wonderful thing. That being said, navigating estate planning can become increasingly complicated when a testator has previously been married or is part of a blended family.

How can blended families best navigate estate planning in order to ensure that all of their loved ones are cared for? While there isn’t one simple answer, there are certainly options.

Protecting long-term finances with a power of attorney

Aging is inevitable. And one of the wisest, yet most overlooked things British Columbia residents can do to protect their finances as the years march on is to make sure they have a power of attorney in place. It is best to be prepared for the unforeseen, like not being able to make financial decisions due to incapacity or illness and having a document in place that specifies who will have power of attorney in such circumstances.

A will should typically accompany a power of attorney -- the two go hand-in-hand. A person who has power of attorney over someone's affairs can make financial, like withdrawing money from a bank account or making changes to the account, like an address change, for instance. Someone with a power of attorney must act in the best interests of the grantor (the person who makes the power of attorney).  So when a grantor is deciding on who this person should be, he or she will want to choose someone trustworthy, honest and somewhat financially astute. Often this is a spouse or adult child.

What decisions someone make with a medical power of attorney

When people ask others to make decisions on their behalves, they are likely to choose people they trust. Selecting someone to have medical power of attorney (POA) in British Columbia gives that individual the authority to make decisions regarding health care for the person granting the power. In addition to health care, some of the decisions covered by a POA can be about nutrition, housing, hygiene, general safety and even clothing.

Those who intend on having a medical POA should be extremely specific on their instructions in the document. For instance, if the person has a life-threatening illness and is in a life or death situation, he or she should stipulate clearly a do not resuscitate order, if that is what is desired. In addition the document should outline what other medical care is or is not wanted if the writer of it is incapacitated and unable to make those decisions.

Estate administration: Suggestions for new parents

Never is the time more prudent for fashioning an estate plan than when a couple welcomes children into their family. Positive estate administration in British Columbia means have an all-encompassing estate plan even though new parents likely aren't dwelling on the future immediately after having children. It may be a wise decision, however, to have documents in place should the unforeseen happen -- especially when it comes to the guardianship of minor children.

In fact, that is probably the first question that could be answered within the body of an estate plan -- who will be the guardian(s) of minor children should the parents pass away? After narrowing the field down and asking the person(s) chosen, writing this important information down properly will likely ease the minds of young parents that their child will be taken care of by someone they respect and trust. Care must be taken to explain the role to the person who has been chosen.

Estate administration without help could be a daunting prospect

The time immediately after a loved one's death is a time for grieving. However, if you were appointed to handle the estate administration, you might have to suppress emotions and tackle this detailed, time-consuming process, which many people might find overwhelming. Fortunately, the lawyers at the British Columbia law firm of Garton & Harris can provide the necessary support and guidance to make sure you meet every legal duty.

The lawyers can steer you through the checklist of duties, which will include making arrangements for a funeral and burial and locating all the heirs. You might have little knowledge of where the deceased loved one held his or her assets; however, you will have to find and secure it and then arrange for it to be sold. You will also have to pay his or her debts and cancel any subscriptions he or she had.

The importance of talking to loved ones about an estate plan

Talking with family members about death is not an easy prospect. However, doing so can significantly limit future surprises, especially regarding an estate plan that contains important information about the last wishes of their loved one. Having that difficult discussion may actually show loved ones their welfare is paramount.

The grantor, or the person to whom the estate plan belongs, not only wants to look after his or her own financial well-being, but likely also wants to ensure his or her last wishes don't cause any dissention, including the possibility of legal problems.

Important considerations before pursuing a business purchase

British Columbia residents have different reasons for potentially purchasing a business. A particular company may interest you because it is successful, or it may be available at a low price because it is failing. Will you be able to maintain the success of the first choice, or can you rebuild a failing business? These and more questions will need answers before you commit to a purchase, which can risk your financial stability.

When you are looking for a business that would be a worthwhile proposition to buy in Port Coquitlam and the surrounding geographical areas, be aware that advertisements for many businesses that are for sale are often misleading. Doing due diligence before committing to a commercial investment could prove imperative to your chances for success.

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