Frequently Asked Questions
Real Estate / Property transfers:
There is a lot of information involved in the process of buying or selling your house; however, sometimes the information is complicated. Our role as your Notary is to simplify the process for you and ensure a smooth transaction. We will take care of the legal aspects involved and give you that peace of mind that everything will complete on time and correctly. If you are looking for assistance with the purchase or sale of your home, why not contact us for more advice and find out how else we can help make it easier for you.
Everyone approaches estate planning differently as we all have our own ideas or expectations. Your estate plan should be a reflection of your personal interests and choices. An estate plan allows you to plan your life in the present and for your future. It allows you to address your goals and objectives in an effective manner. Estate planning can help ensure that your assets are distributed as you wish, appoint guardians of your minor children, prepare for an unexpected illness or death, or appoint an attorney to manage your legal and financial matters.
A Will is a critical tool that outlines your wishes for the distribution of assets, appointing a guardian of your choice for your minor children, your choice of an Executor and any funeral arrangements. A Will protects your most important assets, which is your family. Making a Will has many advantages including the aforementioned and tax liability reduction (i.e. leaving gifts to your favourite charity). The idea of making a will seems uncomfortable or daunting but it doesn't have to be. If you are unsure where to start, contact our office and we will be more than happy to assist you.
If you do not have a Will, you can't control what happens to your assets. The distribution of your Estate is determined by law (Wills, Estate and Succession Act of B.C.) and the court appoints an Administrator of your Estate. This may cause disputes among your family and friends as to who should be appointed, prolong the process of Administration of your Estate or increase your Estate's legal expenses as opposed to Probate of a Will. Further, the court can also decide what happens with your minor children.
Anyone can make a Will as long as they are 16. Further, a Will must meet the requirements set out by the legislation in order to be valid. If any of the requirements are not met, the Will is considered to be invalid. A Will is a legal document that should be prepared properly. Our office ensures that your Will is properly drafted and executed to meet the requirements set out by the Wills, Estates and Succession Act of B.C.
Your Will does not get registered; however, a notice is filed that you have made a Will. A Wills Notice is a form filed with the Vital Statistics Agency of B.C. This Wills Notice is registered in the wills registry that you've made a Will and where your original Will is located. Vital Statistics of B.C. does not keep a copy of your Will nor record any information included in your Will. You can store your original Will in a safety deposit box or in your own home; however, we recommend that you advise your executor and/ or your alternate executor of its location or provide them with a copy.
Some circumstances should prompt you to change your Will, consider the following when you are determining whether you need to update your Will:
- Have your family circumstances changed? (i.e. you have more children or adopt a child)
- Has there been a death in your family?
- Are you satisfied with your choice of Executor/Trustee and is your named Executor/Trustee still able to administer your estate?
- Has there been any change in the value of your assets? (i.e. sell property that is specifically mentioned in your Will)
- Have there been any recent changes to legislation that may provide you with tax and probate relief?
If you decide changes are required, please do not write on your original Will. This includes writing further instructions to your executor, crossing out lines you want to change or print in a new married name of a beneficiary or yourself. This could result in voiding your Will altogether before the creation and execution of a new Will. Contact our office and we can assist you.
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that appoints another person, called an "Attorney" to deal with your legal and financial decisions on your behalf. It may give one the authority to pay your bills, deposit and/or withdraw money from your bank account, make gifts, loans, donations or deal with your real estate. A Power of Attorney can be for a specific purpose and/or specific time period, such as selling your real estate property; or it can be general which allows your Attorney to do anything that you could lawfully do. A Power of Attorney does not allow your Attorney to make a Will or make health and personal care decisions on your behalf. A Power of Attorney is only valid while you are alive and it can be registered.
An Enduring Power of Attorney allows your Attorney to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf if you become mentally incompetent due to age, an accident (i.e. brain injury) or an illness (i.e. a stroke, Alzheimer's or dementia). The Enduring Power of Attorney is only valid if the document states that the Attorney's authority continues in the event that you become incapable.
Banks and other financial institutions may have Powers of Attorney to cover financial affairs specific to that institution. This will not allow your Attorney to deal with other financial or legal matters.
You can choose any one you trust to be your Attorney as long as they are 19 years old or older; however, it cannot be someone that is paid to provide personal or health care services to you. An exception to this rule is if the Attorney is your parent, spouse or child. A Power of Attorney is a very powerful document, so you should choose someone you completely trust. Most importantly, it is essential to discuss with your Attorney their role, duties and responsibilities before you appoint them as they are not obligated to act on your behalf and can resign if they want to.
Yes, you can change or revoke your Power of Attorney as long as you are capable. If you make a new Power of Attorney, it does not automatically revoke your previous one. There are specific rules and it is your responsibility to advise the attorney and any third parties (i.e. financial institutions) of any changes or revocations.
Yes, you can and you can stipulate in your Power of Attorney whether they can act separately, together, when they can act or different areas of authority. It is your choice.
A Representation Agreement ("RA") is a legal document that appoints another person, called a "Representative" or multiple Representatives, to assist in making legal, financial, health and/ or personal care decisions on your behalf if you become incapable. It includes providing or withholding consent for specific medical procedures or treatments. You can also allow your Representative to manage routine management and financial affairs.
A Section 7 ("S.7") Representation Agreement ("RA") is a limited agreement that covers minor (i.e. medications) and major health care (i.e. surgery), personal care, legal affairs and routine financial affairs for those individuals who are not competent to make an Enduring Power of Attorney.
A Section 9 ("S.9") Representation Agreement ("RA") allows your Representative to make legal, personal and health care decisions including refusal or withdrawal of life support. You must be mentally competent to make this type of agreement as you have to be capable of understanding the nature and consequences of a S.9 RA.
Any adult that wants a specific person or persons to deal with their health and/ or personal care decisions. This is especially important for adults that do not have a spouse and/or children or adults faced with a situation where their children will not mutually agree when taking decisions.
An Advance Directive, also known as a Living Will, is a legally binding document that is written instructions by a capable adult to their health care provider to consent or refuse health care in the event they are incapable when the health care is required. An Advance Directive is more appropriate for someone who is terminally ill; however, it is important to discuss health care issues with your doctor because every situation is different.
Notarization means the document has been authenticated. A Notary Public is authorized to administer oaths, certify documents and attest to the validity and authentication of a signature. Your signature on the document means that you signed it willingly.
A Certified True Copy is a photocopy of the original document that we examine and compare to the original. We then examine and certify that the photocopy is unaltered and is a true copy of the original. If extensive photocopying is required, there will be an additional charge for this service.
**DISCLAIMER: NO LEGAL ADVICE PROVIDED-THE MATERIAL ON OUR WEBSITE IS INTENDED TO PROVIDE GENERAL INFORMATION AND IS NOT INTENDED TO BE LEGAL ADVICE. FOR ASSISTANCE WITH YOUR SPECIFIC LEGAL ISSUE OR INQUIRY PLEASE CONTACT OUR OFFICE AND WE WILL BE PLEASED TO DETERMINE WHETHER WE CAN ASSIST YOU**