Monique was great to work with and made the whole process painless. I really appreciated her suggestions and the way she clearly laid out alternatives. She seems to really understand my situation and worked with that without pressure.
~ Jennifer – Vancouver
Checking estate planning off the to-do list gives you the peace of mind of knowing that a plan is in place to make sure that you and your loved ones will be taken care of if something happens to you. Estate planning can feel daunting but it needn’t be. In most situations, estate planning involves an initial meeting, some choices on your part and document writing on my part, and a second meeting to discuss and sign your Will and other documents, all which can often be completed in about a month. Your decisions don’t need to be perfect and can be changed – it is better to get something in place than leave things up in the air.
Although everyone benefits from an estate plan, some of the times in life when it is more common for people to focus on Wills and estate planning are when they:
- buy or already own a home
- get married or move in with a partner
- have children
- enter a new relationship and either partner has children from a previous relationship (a blended family)
- start a business or have built a business or professional practice (medical, dental, legal)
- receive an inheritance
- approach retirement or have retired
A basic estate plan deals with both death and incapacity, and usually includes:
To set out how your estate is to be handled on your death
Power of Attorney
To appoint someone to handle your financial and legal affairs during your life
To appoint someone to make health and personal care decisions if you become incapable
Other estate planning tools may be recommended depending on your situation, such as trusts in the Will (testamentary trusts), or separate trusts for life insurance (insurance declarations).
Read more about the basics of estate planning
Marriage and Cohabitation Agreements
Marriage and cohabitation agreements can be an important part of good planning, especially for blended families. What an agreement will cover depends on the situation and stage of life of the couple – an agreement that makes sense for a couple who each have grown children and their own nest egg will not make sense for a young couple about to start a family together.
A marriage or cohabitation agreement can talk about
- What property is separate to each person, and what is shared
- How a home or other property bought together will be handled
- How inheritances, businesses and other specific items will be dealt with
- Which debts are to be each person’s responsibility and which are to be shared
- How to deal with their estates so that each person meets their responsibility to their new spouse and to their children
One person in a couple can hire me to draft an agreement or a proposal for an agreement, in which case that person will be my client and the other spouse will have their own lawyer to make sure the agreement is fair for both people. If I am doing Wills for both people in the couple, one of them will go to a lawyer to get independent legal advice on the agreement.