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Estate Planning Tips: Creating The Perfect Estate Plan

Estate Planning Tips: Creating the Perfect Estate Plan

Post Series: Executorship in BC

It’s important that estate planners create detailed plans that they’re happy with before they pass away. Estate planning goes well beyond simply writing a will. A robust estate plan should provide you and your loved ones with detailed plans for the end of your life. This usually includes appointing a power of attorney and a personal health representative. Preparing for end of life care in your estate plan can save stress and uncertainty in an already difficult time. Further, you can construct your estate plan to maximize value for beneficiaries while minimizing risk of litigation. In this blog, we’ll discuss our tips to ensure that your estate plan is as detailed and effective as possible.

Make Your Intentions Clear to Beneficiaries and Family

With estate planning, a goal should be to avoid any estate disputes amongst beneficiaries. Estate disputes create unnecessary stress and conflict between loved ones. Carefully preparing a valid will can help to avoid this conflict. Family members often raise estate disputes when they’re surprised by their inheritance, and had different expectations. Simply talking with your beneficiaries and family can prevent disputes, sometimes preventing lengthy legal proceedings. Hearing from you and understanding your reasons for making the bequests is usually enough to prevent conflict from arising.

Start Planning Early

People are always asking: at what age should I prepare my will? Unfortunately, there isn’t any magical age that we can tell someone to write their will. The answer to this depends on each person’s financial situation and at which stage they are in their life. Ultimately, it’s always best to prepare your will sooner rather than later. We encourage people to start thinking about their estate plan as soon as they’ve accumulated any assets. This can include traditional assets like real estate, or even digital assets. For more information, read our blog on when it’s time to write a will.

Appoint a Power of Attorney and Representative

Naming someone to be your power of attorney or representative in the case that you become incapable in the future is an important piece of a complete estate plan. You can appoint someone now, giving them powers over your financial, personal, health and legal decisions if you become incapable in the future. You are also able to appoint an attorney who only has powers over legal decision. Appointing an attorney is an important precaution. You can help prevent a loved one from having to go through court processes to be named your committee by appointing them before it’s too late.

Include Estate Residue Provisions

The residuary clause is often the largest bequest in a will.

Because of the estate administration costs, taxes, or unpaid debts that arise after death, it’s impossible to determine the exact value of your estate while planning. The volatile housing market also means that a house or land is likely to increase in value after you finish your final will. To avoid leaving assets in your estate without a beneficiary, will-writers often make a residuary clause in their will. This usually looks something like, “The residue of my estate is to be given to my husband.” If there’s no clause, the residue of the estate is distributed according to intestacy laws.

Review and Update Your Will Frequently

If you were keen and prepared your will early, there should be many more life events ahead of you which warrant a revision to your will. Maybe you write your will then in the future get married, buy a new car, invest in property, or have a child. Whatever the case, you will want to modify your will to reflect any significant life change. Once you’ve prepared your will, it’s usually not difficult to re-write a new will to reflect the new changes in your life. Another option is to prepare a codicil when you wish to make a simple change to your will.

Account for Your Assets

Accounting for all of your assets is one of the first tasks your will’s executor is responsible with. It’s usually quite obvious to the will-writer what assets they own and where they are. This information is not always so obvious to the executor. What you can do to help alleviate the burden on the executor is prepare a detailed list of all your estate assets. You should describe what the assets are, what their approximate values might be and where they can be found. Executors can find it difficult to account for everything you owned without guidance. Further, will-writers should include any passwords and account information for digital assets. For example, leaving email passwords can be extremely helpful for executors as email information might be crucial during estate administration.

Consider Life Insurance

People usually think of life insurance as protection in the case of an unexpected death – protecting loved ones by providing a significant sum of money to help care for them. Another way to look at life insurance for elderly people is as an estate planning tool. Having a life insurance plan can reduce probate fees, make estate administration more efficient and increase privacy. For more information, read our blog on life insurance as an estate planning method.

Consider Writing a Secondary Will

For people who have large estates, it might be a good idea to write two wills – one for probate assets and one for probate-exempt assets. By doing this, you can minimize your taxes owed and increase the value of your estate. There are some implications with a secondary will that should be considered; however, it is usually a good idea for business owners or people who own many shares in a company. For more information, read our blog on secondary wills.

Get Professional Advice

While you’re allowed to create your own valid will in BC, it’s not always the most suitable option. There are countless intricacies and details that go into planning a will in the best interest of the will-writer and their beneficiaries. The language in the will needs to be well drafted or else it can raise complications in the probate stage. With the help of an estate lawyer, you can be sure your will won’t create unnecessary difficulties and will be executed as you’re expecting. If you need help preparing your estate plan or simply want someone to review your will, contact an experienced estate lawyer who understands BC’s estate laws.

Have a question about this topic or a different legal topic? Contact us for a free consultation. Reach us via phone at 250-888-0002, or via email at

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