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Comprehensive planning can help avoid estate litigation

Many Canadians who find themselves closer to retirement age can find the prospect of estate planning daunting. British Columbia residents may find the prospect of mortality difficult to talk about, and many people leave their estate planning for when the "time is right". However, many experts agree that arranging paperwork today provides peace of mind to the whole family, and can also help to avoid sticky estate litigation further down the line.

The key to estate planning is to have all pertinent documents in order. A will ensures the estate holder's accumulated assets are disseminated to the beneficiaries he or she has chosen, as without one, the dissolution of an estate falls to the province to distribute. Even with a will, it is typically necessary for the estate to go through a probate process and can end up costing a lot of money. This is why further documentation is necessary.

One way to avoid probate is to establish a trust, sometimes known as a "living trust" which acts similarly to a will. Additionally, assigning a power of attorney to make important financial and/or medical decisions when the estate holder is unable to do so is another important part of the puzzle. Updating these documents regularly and cross-checking them with an experienced estate attorney is a good way to keep on top of late-life planning.

No one wants any heirs and beneficiaries to become embroiled in costly estate litigation as a result of an avoidable error. This is why British Columbia residents planning for late life can benefit from the support of estate attorneys in arranging and collating their paperwork. With these failsafes in place, the integrity of an estate is strengthened considerably.

Source: tcpalm.com, "Estate planning doesn't have to be daunting", Robert D. Schwartz, Jan. 31, 2017

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