Estate litigation more likely without a plan

It is true that drafting a will can be a difficult experience for some people. Certainly, most British Columbia residents do not relish planning for the end of their lives. However, in order for their families to avoid serious estate litigation, it is vital to have an up-to-date will outlining an estate holder's wishes in order for those wishes to be carried out following their deaths. 

A survey conducted by TD Canada Trust suggests that nearly 50 percent of Canadians do not have an up-to-date will, with half that number falling into retirement age. Additionally, some 38 percent of individuals have not discussed their estate plans with their children. One of the benefits of having a will is to help stem potential conflicts when the estate holder dies. Considering the vast majority of Canadians have at least one sibling, the potential for disputes increase if the estate holder has not articulated his or her wishes, particularly as it pertains to inheritance. 

Canadian law defers to the individual provinces and territories in disseminating the assets of individuals who pass away with no will in place. This means that a court decides who gets what, which can often look very different than what an estate holder might prefer. Additionally, even those with a will could find themselves victims of their own planning. If, for example, an adult child marries and then dies, and no stipulations for that contingency have been drafted, the inheritance could be considered the marital property of the living spouse. 

There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of scenarios in which estate litigation could occur in the absence of a will. British Columbia residents who wish to avoid such a difficult experience for their children could benefit from the support of an experienced estate planning lawyer in drafting all appropriate documentation. Such a step often provides peace of mind to the whole family. 

Source: medicinehatnews.com, "Canadians unprepared for the inevitable: half don't have a will", May 26, 2017

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