Wills and Estates North Vancouver

Wills & Estates

Securing your future and the future of those who depend on you

Our North Vancouver estates lawyers bring together over 70 years of combined experience providing estate and family asset advice to clients throughout British Columbia.

Drawing on our broad range of experience, we provide practical, cost-effective advice to clients at all stages of life to shield them from unnecessary liability and paperwork. The Ratcliff estates lawyers have extensive experience in a wide range estate planning and administration, including, probate matters, contested estate litigation and passing of estate accounts.

Where necessary, our lawyers at Ratcliff can assist you in dealing with estate issues that cross over to other areas of law, such as business law, employment law and family law

Our Wills & Estates Service Include:

  • A detailed overview of your estate planning objectives
  • Tailored advice on how best to accomplish your wishes
  • Appropriate strategies to protect wealth and beneficiaries
  • Establishing Powers of Attorney and Representation Agreements
  • Advice on a variety of asset protection issues, such as avoiding Wills variation claims
  • Objective advice in resolution of disputes involving trusts, wills and estates
  • Assistance obtaining Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration
  • Advising Executors and Beneficiaries
  • Helping surviving family members of a person who has died instate without making a Will

Estate Planning & Creating a Will

Estate planning is not just for the wealthy; it is for anyone who wants to make sure their final wishes are carried out. Choosing who will look after your children, and how your estate will be distributed after your death are among the most important decisions you will ever make.

A Will allows you to control who you would like to administer your estate, to receive your assets and to be the guardian of any children under the age of 19 if you die. If you pass away without a Will, your estate will be administered pursuant to provincial legislation and your beneficiaries may be subjected to unnecessary costs, delays and sometimes litigation.

Our lawyers consider each client’s particular situation and objectives when creating an estate plan. Then, we advise on how best to organize your affairs so that your wishes are carried out.

Some important considerations may include:

  • Choice of executors
  • Guardians for minor children and trusts for younger family members
  • Tax implications (including the use of testamentary trusts for income splitting)
  • Issues surrounding second marriages and “blended families”
  • Discretionary trusts for a disabled family member
  • Planned giving to charities
  • Challenges relating to foreign assets or beneficiaries
  • Succession of a family business
  • Consideration of BC probate fees
  • The use of lifetime trusts, including alter ego, joint partner and general family trusts

We also identify potentially litigious issues, including claims under British Columbia’s Wills Variation provisions and we develop strategies to minimize or eliminate potential family conflict.

If you already have an estate plan, it is important to review your plan from time to time to ensure its currency as your life circumstances, and the law, changes.

Estate Administration

When someone close to you dies, sorting out the money and property can be daunting and distressing. Let us help you through this period.

We assist both executors and persons who have been named as beneficiaries in a will, as well as the surviving family members of persons who have died without making a will.

Some common estate administration issues we help with:

  • Obtaining grants of probate (if there is a Will) or Letters of Administration (if there is no Will)
  • Advising Executors, Administrators and Trustees in discharging their duties
  • Assisting with accounting obligations, including the passing of estate or trust accounts
  • Dealing with complicated estate assets, including business assets and out of province assets
  • Reporting to beneficiaries as required and liaising with other advisers, such as accountants

Should a dispute arise, we work collaboratively with our litigation team to work towards a resolution, whether it be through a negotiated settlement or litigation.

Other Considerations That We Can Assist You With

Incapacity Planning

It is important to plan for circumstances where you are no longer able, due to either a mental or physical condition, to take care of your property or to properly attend to your health and personal care. To assist people facing this situation, Powers of Attorney and Representation Agreements can be valuable tools.

Powers of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is a document in which you can appoint another person of your choosing (called an “Attorney”) to handle your financial and legal decisions. An Enduring Power of Attorney is a power of Attorney that continues even after you have become incapable.

Representation Agreements

A Representation Agreement allows you to designate someone you trust (called a “Representative”) to make health and personal care decisions on your behalf. The appointment remains valid should you become mentally incompetent. If you have any particular health care wishes, you can include them in a Representation Agreement.

Committeeship Applications

When someone has lost the ability to care for their own financial and personal decisions, but did not prepare a power of attorney, we help families obtain the order of Committeeship from the Court. The order provides the necessary authority to manage the affairs of the incompetent person. We can also provide advice on dealing with the ongoing administration and the regular report to the Court that will be required.

Our Wills and Estates Lawyers

Peter Bonny Wills Estates Succession Trusts Lawyer BC | Ratcliff LLP

Peter I. Bonny*
Partner, Lead – Wills & Estates Group

Estate Planning & Administration

Lesley Midzain- Wills Estate Planning Lawyer North Vancouver BC

Lesley Midzain

Estate Planning & Administration

Kevin Lee Managing Partner experienced senior litigator alternative dispute resolution | Ratcliff LLP

Kevin D. Lee*
Managing Partner

Estate Litigation

*Law Corporation