Edmonton Wills Lawyers

Edmonton Wills Lawyers

Edmonton wills lawyers are the men and women lawyers of Edmonton who handle the wills requirements for the people who live in and around Edmonton.

A will gives you the best opportunity to ensure that your intentions are fulfilled after you pass away.  A will gives away your property and becomes effective upon your death. A will allows you to name an executor or an executrix (sometimes called "estate trustees") who is responsible for carrying out the provisions of your will.  If you have children, a will can also name the guardians you feel should look after your children after you are gone.

A will can also cover what happens if you and your spouse pass away at the same time.  

“Estate planning” is the process of dealing with all these matters prior to a crisis and putting together a plan to ensure the best outcome and that your wishes are given effect. The making of a will is a part of the estate planning process. However, estate planning involves more than just the making of a will. For example, if you have joint property (such as a matrimonial home in joint names), this property may not be covered by the will but still needs to be taken into account as part of the estate planning process. Similarly, life insurance is often also not covered by a will, but still needs to be taken into account.

A lawyer is essential to the estate planning process. But don't let this frighten you - unless your affairs are especially complicated, estate planning is not an overly difficult or expensive process.

Although there is no legal requirement that a will be drawn up by a lawyer, there are many pitfalls into which home-made wills fall, and it is strongly suggested that lawyers be used throughout the will making process.  The person who makes the will is obviously not available later to explain what they "really meant" or to correct any technical deficiencies that might exist. There really is no room for mistake. 

The Wills Act of Alberta governed the making of wills in Alberta for many years. On February 1, 2012 this old Wills Act was repealed and it has been replaced with the new Wills and Succession Act of Alberta (SA 2012 cW-12.2). This new legislation now governs the making of wills in Alberta. This new wills legislation is extremely important.

The new wills legislation also repealed the Intestate Succession Act, the Survivorship Act, the Dependants Relief Act and section 47 of the Trustee Act. The substance of these acts has been largely consolidated into the new Wills and Succession Act.  

Here are just some of the matters typically dealt with in a will, or which are covered in the Wills and Succession Act:

  • Appointing a trustee or “executor”,
  • Appointing a guardian for the children,
  • Rules on signing a will,
  • How many witnesses are needed,
  • Making your own will,
  • Having a holograph will,
  • What happens if there is no will,
  • Wills of military people,
  • Wills of minors,
  • How to revoke a will,
  • What happens if you get married,
  • Lapsed gifts,
  • Gift for charitable purposes,
  • Lapse of time in devise,
  • Lapse in gifts to children,
  • Un-disposed residue.

Having a lawyer who is familiar with the Wills and Succession Act help guide you through the process is the best way to ensure that your will making exercise is a success. 

The Wills and Succession Act sets out detailed rules regarding wills, including how wills need to be signed, where on the will the signature should appear and if witnesses are required, and how many witnesses must be present at the time that a will is signed and much more.  An Edmonton wills lawyer will know all of these rules and make sure there are no problems.

Section 14 of the Wills and Succession Act of Alberta states that a will is valid only when it is in writing. A will must also contain a signature. The Wills and Succession Act goes on to contain detailed provisions regarding the actual signing of the will, both by the person making the will and by the witnesses and it is again strongly suggested that a lawyer be used for making wills.

A somewhat common error in the signing of wills is to have a beneficiary (such as a spouse or other close family member) sign the will as a witness. This can have the effect of disinheriting the witness and can be a huge mistake.  This is just one of the things that can go seriously wrong in making a will.

Under the old legislation, if you had a will but later got married, the act of marriage served to revoke the will (except in very specific circumstances) so if you got married – your old will was probably no good anymore.  The same was true if you entered into an “adult interdependent partner agreement”.

Under the new legislation, marriage no longer revokes a will. Talk to a lawyer.

Key amendments to the Matrimonial Property Act of Alberta are in the works. Talk to a lawyer.

If there is land involved – especially in a province outside of Alberta or in another country such as the United States – you need to be especially careful. “Conflict Rules” come into play which are covered in Part 2 of the Wills and Succession Act.  If you have land outside of Alberta you will definitely want to obtain legal advice from an Edmonton lawyer as part of your estate planning process and regarding the preparation of your will. Among other things, very significant tax implications can arise.

“Estate litigation” is an exploding area of law and it is often what happens when there has been inadequate estate planning.  Nothing is worse than having families divided and large sums of money spent on “contesting the will” after someone has died.  By far the best way to ensure this does not happen is to go through a careful estate planning process and to have a lawyer prepare the will.

The Personal Directive (Living Will) and Enduring Power of Attorney  

In the mid 1990’s the laws of Alberta were changed to allow for the creation of Enduring Powers of Attorney and Personal Directives. Most lawyers recommend having these documents prepared at the same time as a will. One covers financial affairs and the other decisions regarding personal care and medical treatment.

An Enduring Power of Attorney is an important document - especially if you become disabled by by accident or illness, whether temporarily or more permanently. The Enduring Power of Attorney gives authority to another person to deal with your financial affairs and assets, either immediately or upon your incapacity. The preparation of an Enduring Power of Attorney avoids the need to apply for a court order to deal with your assets if you become incapacitated and enables you to specify who will deal with your assets if you are no longer capable of dealing with them on your own.

A Personal Directive applies to decisions in the area of personal care and medical treatment. It allows one to make health care decisions today regarding matters that may come up in the future. Decisions such as a decision not to continue to use or to commence life support measures, where you will live when you become incapacitated, and what medical intervention you would want in terminal illness situations.

A Personal Directive allows you to appoint a person (called your “agent”) to make these decisions for you, or you can give specific directions in the personal directive and not appoint an agent or both. Personal directives are alternatives to guardianship orders under the Adult Guardian and Trusteeship Act and are therefore less intrusive, less costly, and provide you with more control and input to decisions, which may be made regarding your future care during incapacitating illness or injury.

It is important, in considering who your Edmonton wills lawyer is going to be, that you select one that is practical, experienced and knowledgeable of exactly how things work.  They should have an office in Edmonton which is staffed full time and has been there for some time. 

We are that counsel.  We are that law firm.  We are your Edmonton Wills Lawyers.

Reynolds Mirth Richards & Farmer, LLP

3200 Manulife Place
10180 101 Street
Edmonton, Alberta
T5J 3W8

If you would like to speak to a lawyer about any will or estate related matter, call one of us today.

Phone: (780) 425-9510

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