How much do you stand to save by preparing a will based on a will kit, or with a notary as compared to a wills and estates lawyer? It is true that there are likely savings to be found and you stand to save even more if you don’t even prepare a will (around half of us don’t have wills anyway). Those cost-savings have to be balanced against the potential risks associated with not getting the right estate planning advice, which is far greater.
Nobody Lives Forever
We all like to think that we will live forever, or that our death is at least not imminent unless we face serious health challenges. This can cause us to question the value of proper estate planning, particularly given that it comes at a cost. What’s the use if you’ve got years to live? Why not cut costs or just avoid it altogether?
The reason why is that sometimes life happens. Events conspire and they can take you by surprise. If that happens, you risk finding yourself without the proper planning in place, which can set your estate up for a fight, and estate fights are nasty and expensive, far more expensive than a proper will package.
Estate Planning Can Be Complex
But your estate is simple, right? You can’t imagine there being an issue. The whole point of getting proper advice is to learn about risks you are not currently aware of. You may need a trust for your children if you don’t want them coming into a lot of money too early and to avoid the Public Guardian and Trustee stepping in if they are under-age. You may have children that are not getting equal shares, giving rise to potential claims to varying a will.
Maybe you have recently separated and you don’t realize that separation revokes all gifts and appointments to your spouse, which can bring about completely unexpected results if you die or lose the ability to make decisions for yourself.
As an estate litigator, I see the cases that go bad, and in each case, I can’t help but wonder if it could have all been prevented through proper planning.
Sometimes despite the best intentions, people leave it too late, until they are diagnosed with dementia or have suffered a stroke, opening up arguments that they lacked the legal capacity to sign a will or power of attorney. Sometimes in those cases fights to break out before the person in question has even died, setting up the stage for another fight upon death.
In all of these cases the costs mount, the stress placed upon the family remaining is tremendous and there are wounds that never heal completely.
The Wills, Estates and Succession Act that came into force in BC in 2014 has many nuances. The experienced wills and estates lawyer that you hire will help you navigate these. So it is not the cost of getting a wills package done with that lawyer that you need to be so concerned with, as much as the cost of failing to do so. The costs associated with a properly drafted will pale in comparison with the cost and turmoil of an estate fight kicking off on you losing capacity or dying.
If you need help planning your estate and creating a will, contact our team of friendly and experienced lawyers at Doak Shirreff. We have teams who specialize in estate planning law who would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.
Michael Sinclair is a family law lawyer and estate lawyer at Doak Shirreff Lawyers LLP. Click here to connect with Michael. He can also be reached at [email protected]