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Future planning to avoid estate litigation

While late-life planning can be an upsetting topic for some people, the fact remains that planning for one's estate after death entails important decisions that will affect an individual's children and extended family, possibly for years to come. British Columbia residents have likely seen reports of the outcome of poor estate planning, which can result in instability and even contentious estate litigation. This is why planning in advance for final arrangements is so important. 

When making plans for the distribution of an estate, it is common to draft a will: a document that clearly outlines the last wishes of the estate holder prior to his or her death. The most common use of a will is to identify heirs and the portions of the estate to which they will be entitled. This in turn is taken care of by an executor, an individual chosen to handle paperwork and carry out last wishes including funeral arrangements. 

Some individuals with minor children may choose to identify a guardian, who will be responsible for the children in the event of an untimely death or illness. This also ties into a power of attorney, an individual chosen to handle important financial and/or health decisions for the estate holder in the event he or she is rendered unable to do so. While many people choose their spouse for this role, it is often advisable to choose an alternative as well. 

In British Columbia and elsewhere, estate litigation can be a contentious, drawn-out process that can sometimes be avoided through the creation of a comprehensive estate plan. In the event such a plan is not developed in time, seeking the support of an experienced attorney to handle litigation may cut down on considerable conflict after the estate holder passes away. Ultimately, this is done to support the family through their time of grief and ensure last wishes are carried out. 

Source: insidehalton.com, "Estate planning 101", Nov. 21, 2016

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