A will is a legal document that documents your wishes pertaining to the distribution of your property after your death. Creating a will gives you sole discretion over the distribution of your assets. It lets you decide how your belongings, such as cars or family heirlooms, should be distributed. If you have a business or investments, your will can direct the smooth transfer or transmission of those assets.
Creating a will can ensure that you are in control of the distribution of your assets after your death. Having a will can ensure that your family and loved ones do not have to go through unnecessary financial and emotional distress over property disputes. Relatives battling over your possessions can weaken what may have otherwise been a strong family.
If you have children who are minors, a will lets you provide for their care. If you have children from a prior marriage, even if they are adults, your will can dictate the assets they receive.
If you are charitably inclined, a will lets you direct your assets to the charity of your choice. Likewise, if you wish to leave your assets to an institution or an organization, a will can see that your wishes are carried out.
A will allows you to distribute your property, name an executor, appoint guardians for your children, forgive your debts and take other financial decisions regarding the ownership and control of your movable and immovable properties.
If you die without a will in place, that is “intestate”, your property and assets get divided as per Alberta’s Wills and Succession Act. This comprises the money in your bank accounts, any other securities owned by you, your movable and immovable properties and other assets.
Normally, when we draft a will we will also provide an enduring power of attorney (a document selecting your personal representative in the event of incapacity) and a personal directive (a set of instructions provided to your agent regarding your medical and other personal matters in the event of an incapacity).
Probate is the legal process of validating the will of a deceased person. The probate process protects the executor from claimants of the estate by obtaining court approval for the disposition. The executor determines the estate’s debts, assets, distributable gifts, beneficiaries, and with assistance, completes the probate process and files all tax returns of the deceased. In instances where there is a will, a named executor will usually need to apply to the Surrogate Court of Alberta to receive a formal Grant of Probate in order to proceed. The experienced wills and probate lawyers at First West Law in Calgary can help you plan your affairs so that the expense of probate may not be necessary in some cases.
For instances where there is not a valid will, your family will need to apply for a Grant of Administration. Our experienced wills and probate lawyers in Calgary will help you through the process.