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How to approach errors in wills in British Columbia

Even when people pay particular attention when writing estate planning documents, errors may occur. Wills have to be meticulously written and contain no errors, or their validity in British Columbia may come into question. When an executor is confronted with errors in a will, there are a few remedies for him or her. 

It's good to know that simple spelling errors won't make a will invalid. Very often, even when a property is incorrectly described, this isn't cause for alarm. A lot lies on what the testator intended when writing the will. When there are issues that aren't exactly clear, a court may review a will and try to establish the wishes of the testator and what he or she intended.

What happens when it's believed an executor is dishonest?

Most people go to great lengths to choose an executor they believe they can trust. When British Columbia residents draft their wills choosing an executor who is honest, reliable, astute and has some knowledge of finances is likely a top priority. But even when a testator chooses someone he or she believes can do the job appropriately, it may be that not every beneficiary might agree with the decision for whatever reasons.

In instances when one or more beneficiaries believe the executor of a will to be less than forthright, there are things that can be done, but only if there is some basis in fact. It may be that an executor may not be aware of the estate administration process and lacks the skills he or she needs. On the other hand, if an executor is acting criminally, that is another story.

I'm the executor of an estate: What does that mean?

When a loved one passes away, there can be a lot more to deal with than people initially realize. Beyond the emotional toll a loss takes on people, which can be overwhelming, there are also numerous financial and legal details to address.

If you are the executor or administrator of a person's estate, you will be tasked with the majority of this work. You are the person who will manage the probate process and follow through with your loved one's wishes, among other duties.

Power of attorney: It's a matter of trust

There are things people can do legally to make sure their financial affairs continue to be in order should they no longer be able to take care of things on their own. A power of attorney is a document that gives one or more people the green light to manage money and/or property on someone else's behalf. There are two types of powers of attorney in British Columbia and the rest of the country: general or enduring.

Since the person(s) named to act on a power of attorney document is given the green light to make many different decisions it is extremely important this person(s) be chosen with the utmost care. A testator must indicate if the person should have limited authority and to what extent. The more comprehensive a power of attorney document is, the better for all involved. One thing a person acting on a power of attorney can't do is make changes to an existing will or draft a will on behalf of someone.

Estate administration: Why it takes so long to get an inheritance

Getting an inheritance can take some time. One of the last jobs an executor is likely to do during estate administration in British Columbia is to disseminate inheritance funds. There are many things to be done with an estate before it can be closed, the first of which is taking inventory of the decedent's assets and debts. Estate planning documents must be located and must be in order before anything else can happen.

All the assets have to be evaluated, and things can get slowed down if the estate has to go through probate. Those assets have to pay any debts the decedent may have owed. These debts include such things as credit cards, outstanding bills, utilities, etc. A final tax must be filed, and taxes must be paid if the decedent owed them. 

What older residents should know about power of attorney

It's inevitable. Everyone -- if he or she is lucky -- gets old. And when thinking about the future, many British Columbia residents think about estate planning and that includes a power of attorney. Planning ahead for old age is one of the most important things a person can do and that means choosing someone to make crucial decisions when one can no longer do so oneself.

Seniors are some of the most vulnerable segments of society. Choosing an individual to help manage their affairs is not only important, but necessary. A person should never feel pressured by the one to whom they've granted the authority to look after his or her financial and personal needs. An individual needs to be capable mentally when signing a power of attorney for the document to be legal and valid.

Estate administration: Keeping the wealth in the family

People work hard for their money. Having a family's wealth protected from unforeseen events like divorce will likely ensure that when the time comes for estate administration in British Columbia, there won't be issues connected with a divorce. The last thing prosperous Canadians want is for the money they've worked so hard for to end up going to those who they wouldn't want it to go to and that sometimes means to a divorced adult child's former spouse or common law partner.

The issue is apparently causing many affluent Canadians grief. A recent survey showed these folks don't trust their heirs' partners when it comes to managing an inheritance. Although it may mean an uncomfortable discussion, wealthy parents of adult children should make their feelings known if such is the case. There is one saving grace in that in most provinces any gifts or inheritances received during a marriage are not included in the net family property if they are not part of overall family assets such as a matrimonial home or joint bank accounts.

Estate administration: Keeping the peace among family members

One of the issues in the back of most people's minds when they think about planning their estates is how to keep everyone happy. That goal may be much easier to attain and estate administration much simpler when British Columbia residents put into place some pertinent things in place when writing their plans. One of those includes choosing the right executor to administer the will.  

Being reasonable in every aspect of estate planning will likely keep family members from tearing each other apart when the time comes for a plan to be executed. And that not only goes for money, but for personal effects as well. A testator wouldn't want anyone fighting over items considered to have sentimental value such as an heirloom handed down from generation to generation. Not everything included in a will has a great monetary value and sometimes items that have emotions attached to them can cause more problems. So, it is necessary that an honest, open discussion should take place around these things.

Can certain people be left out of wills in British Columbia?

Most people believe they should be fair when writing their estate plans. But when a British Columbia testator (one who writes a will) doesn't have children of his or her own and would like to leave assets to nieces and nephews, he or she may feel like those assets should be divided equally among those relatives. However, wills aren't one size fits all and if a testator feels closer to certain nieces and nephews than others and would like that reflected in an estate plan, he or she has every right to do so. 

As long as a will satisfies legal obligations, a person can leave his or her assets to whomever he or she pleases. A niece or nephew who would have received a share in intestacy had there been no will would have standing to contest the will if there are valid grounds to do so. Such may be the case in the instance of undue influence or testamentary capacity etc. 

How much authority does a power of attorney really have?

When choosing someone to look after their affairs when they are incapable, Canadians have to keep a few things in mind. Those who hold a financial power of attorney in British Columbia are in positions of authority over someone else's money, so choosing a person who is trustworthy and knows something about finances is pretty important. That being said, there are certain things such a person can't do according to the law.

If the person who has the power of attorney wants to make drastic changes to the grantor's will by renaming beneficiaries or gifting money to family members or charities, he or she could find him or herself in some legal trouble. It all depends upon the laws of the province in which the grantor resides. And the grantor's will should be reviewed to ensure any gifts are keeping in line with an existing will.

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