Wills & Estate Planning

Drafting a valid will is an essential step in estate planning.  It helps to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.  If you do not have a will, rules set out in government legislation would determine where you assets will go. 

It is also important for everyone to plan in advance should they become incapable of managing their affairs.  There are two other documents that everyone should have - a Power of Attorney and Representation Agreement.   The Power of Attorney is a document that allows you to choose who will handle your financial and legal affairs if you become incapable of managing them for medical reasons.

The Representation Agreement allows you to choose someone to make health and personal decisions for you should you become unable to do so for medical reasons. You may include your personal health care wishes in this document.

A trust may also be set up in some circumstances to save on probate fees and taxes.  It is a way to preserve the assets of minor and disabled beneficiaries over the long-term.

We can assist with estate planning to help reduce the amount of probate fees and taxes that your estate would otherwise pay.

Estate Administration and Probate

Probate

We offer probate services to executors of the deceased.  Probate is the process by which an executor must apply to the BC Supreme Court to confirm that a will is legally valid.  The executor is generally required to probate the Will before they will be able to deal with the assets of the deceased.

Probate filing fees are paid to the Court Registry as follows:

  • Estate worth less than $25,000 - no fee
  • Estate worth over $25,000 - basic fee of $200
  • Estate worth between $25,000 and $50,000 - basic fee of $200 and $6 for every $1,000
  • Estate worth over $50,000 - $14 for every $1,000 of the estate value over $50,000

The grant of probate can be obtained in as little as 4-6 weeks or it can take many months depending on the complexity of the assets in the estate and whether the beneficiaries can be easily located.

Administration

A person may apply to be named administrator of the estate when the deceased has not left a valid will.  An application for administration must be made if a person dies without a will, with a will that does not designate an executor, or designates an executor but all executors are unable or unwilling to act.

If you would like to apply to administer an estate, we can assist with collecting the necessary information and filling out the court forms.

Appointment of Committees

A committee application may be required when a person becomes incapable of managing his or her affairs and the necessary estate planning documents are not already in place (e.g. enduring power of attorney and representation agreement).  Once appointed, a committee may manage the affairs of a person as if they had a power of attorney.

Family Law and Divorce

Family Law Agreements

Family law agreements have become an important tool in resolving family law disputes outside of court.  With the coming into force of the B.C. Family Law Act in March 2013, the B.C. courts have been giving greater deference to family law agreements.

Marriage and cohabitation agreements are made when the relationship starts and are binding on the parties like a contract.  They are generally intended to deal with legal issues if a relationship breaks down and to prevent the property that the parties are bringing into the relationship from being divided according to the scheme set out in the Family Law Act

A Separation Agreement is a legal contract that records the terms of a settlement of the issues that arise when a married or unmarried relationship ends.  It can be filed with the court and enforced as a court order would be.  If you can settle your dispute with a Separation Agreement, you will avoid the money, time and stress involved with bringing the dispute to court. 

If you and your spouse can reach a fair agreement together, it should be written down and signed by both parties.  Drafting a separation agreement is something that requires a great deal of skill and a solid understanding of family law and contract law.  You should consult with us to ensure that the content of your agreement is enforceable and all necessary steps have been completed.  We also offer independent legal advice on family law agreements.

            

Desk Order Divorce

A B.C resident must apply to the Supreme Court of British Columbia under the Divorce Act to obtain a divorce.  The court will grant a divorce if you and your spouse have lived separately for one year (most common ground), you or your spouse had lived in B.C. for the previous year, and you have made reasonable arrangements for the child(ren), if any.

Child support must be paid in accordance with the Federal Child Support Guidelines unless there are special provisions in an order or agreement that benefits the child(ren).

You can apply for an "desk-order" divorce or uncontested divorce if you and your spouse can settle your parenting, support, and property and debt issues. Most divorces are uncontested divorces.

Notary Public Services

Our notary services include notarizations, statutory declarations, certified true copies, commissioner of oaths, affidavits, certified translations, witnessing of signatures, criminal record checks, passport signing, and vital statistics.