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Porter Ramsay Blog

Wills and estates: Sidestepping popular mistakes in estate plans

Everyone makes mistakes in life. But there is no room for error when it comes to wills and estates planning. Before sitting down to write an all-encompassing estate plan, British Columbia residents would do well to know how to avoid some common pitfalls —  the first being not have an estate plan at all. Things will get tricky for the loved ones of someone who dies intestate — meaning without a will.

Another mistake is assuming all an estate plan needs is a will. A will doesn’t speak to many important issues like jointly owned properties or businesses, taxes, power or attorney or health care. Those usually need separate documents and leaving everything to a spouse might not be the best path to follow either in case the person remarries. Setting up a trust fund for children and grandchildren might be an option. Choosing the wrong executor and not using a lawyer to help in estate planning could also be errors in judgment.

A medical or advance health care directive is a necessary part of an estate plan. Not having one leaves an individual’s wishes open for contemplation. It’s best to spell things out in an unambiguous manner: who should make decisions about health care if the estate owner is unable to do so? Once an estate plan is in place, it’s necessary to review it as the years go by and life circumstances change.

A British Columbia lawyer can sit down with a client and answer those questions about wills and estates that leaves one shaking one’s head. Estate planning doesn’t have to be confusing, but it does have to be complete. A lawyer may be able to assist with what documents are needed depending upon a client’s personal circumstances.