Estate planning generally involves the preparation of three documents for each individual: a Will, an Enduring Power of Attorney, and a Personal Directive.
A Will determines how your assets will be preserved, managed, and distributed after their death. A Will can also specify:
We appreciate that every client’s financial and family situation is unique. Our goal is to guide you through the decisions and challenges of planning an estate so that you can have the peace of mind that comes from knowing your family will be provided for as you intend.
An Power of Attorney is a document wherein you appoint someone (your “Attorney”) to manage your finances and property in the event that you are unable to do so yourself. If you do not have a Power of Attorney and you are over the age of 18, then no one will have authority to take care of your property and finances in the event that you are unable to do so.
There are two types of power of attorney documents:
This type of Power of Attorney will not allow the Attorney to manage your financial affairs until such time as a physician declares you incapable of managing your own financial affairs. An Enduring Power of Attorney is meant for adults who do not require assistance in managing their financial affairs now, but wish to be prepared if something was to happen to them in the future.
Finally, a Personal Directive appoints another person to make non-financial decisions for you, in the event that you become incapacitated. It typically contains instructions regarding some or all of the following:
Having a Personal Directive helps to ensure that your family and friends are aware of your wishes, and can ensure the same are respected in the event that you are unable to manage these important life decisions yourself.
A family trust allows individuals to create and preserve a financial legacy while at the same time protecting their assets for their family.
A family trust is a separate legal entity created to hold assets and which has authority to enter into contracts with third parties. From a legal standpoint, once assets are transferred into a family trust, they are no longer the property of the person who transferred them. Instead, they belong to the trust, which is then administered by an appointed trustee for the benefit of the trust beneficiaries, who are usually members of a particular family.
Family trusts offer attractive financial benefits that make them excellent strategies for estate planning and the protection of assets, where appropriate. When a family trust is established in consultation with an accountant, the trust can:
When a person passes away, the Court’s permission is often required in order to distribute the assets to the beneficiaries—this is true whether or not a person had a Will at the time they passed away. The process of distributing the assets of the deceased person is called “estate administration”.
An estate is all the assets of a deceased person, including but not limited to:
Some property may not be included in an estate, including jointly owned property, and any property for which a beneficiary has been designated, including Life Insurance, RRSPs and Pensions. Our lawyers can assist you in determining what assets your loved one may have had at the time of their death, as well as determining whether a grant of administration or probate is required.
In the event that a grant of administration or probate is required, our lawyers can assist the personal representative or administrator in making such an application. The larger and more complex an estate, the more difficult the task of estate administration may appear. Our lawyers offer a depth of experience that ensures we can help you navigate the process as smoothly and stress-free as possible, no matter the complexity.
A Grant of Administration (or letter of administration) in Alberta is issued by the court to appoint an administrator for an estate and allow them to distribute the assets of the person who has passed away.
A Grant of Administration is issued:
When a person leaves behind a Will, they typically name a personal representative who will administer and settle the estate according to the wishes of the deceased. A grant of probate is a court order that confirms the validity of the will and the personal representative’s power to execute it.
Filing for probate involves submitting documents such as a death certificate, bank statements, title to real estate, and more.