Estate Planning

Calgary Lawyers for Drafting Last Will and Testament

The importance of having a properly drafted last will and testament cannot be overemphasized.

If you pass away without a valid will, the law determines who inherits your estate without any consideration of your wishes. This is called “intestate succession”. The laws of intestate succession make no provision for your closest friends or your chosen charities or religious organizations to receive any of your assets. Instead, a rigid and non-flexible formula is applied to determine who receives your assets. In other words, you have no say in who gets your assets.

In order to avoid this situation, it is essential to have a valid last will and testament. A valid will gives you control over what happens to your assets when you pass away. Specifically, your will can give instructions on:

  • Who your beneficiaries are and the nature of the gift you wish each beneficiary to receive?
  • Who do you trust to appoint as your executor?
  • Who do you trust to appoint as your guardian to look after your minor children?

Developing a Comprehensive Estate Plan

Hiring a lawyer is essential to developing a comprehensive estate plan, tailored to your specific needs. During the process of drafting a last will and testament, our wills and estates lawyers will provide advice on numerous legal issues, including:

  • evaluation of potential taxes and consideration of how to minimize taxes;
  • potential claims of dependants under the Wills and Succession Act of Alberta and spousal assets claims;
  • assets outside of Alberta and whether there may be extraordinary taxes or fees applicable in such location, and how ownership might have broader impacts on the taxation of your assets;
  • how to address corporate issues if you own a small business, including succession planning; and
  • ownership of real estate, including joint ownership and the right of survivorship.

It is important to revisit your will any time you have a significant change in your personal circumstances, for instance the birth of a family member, the death of a named beneficiary, executor or guardian, or substantial changes in your assets (whether up or down). Barring any of these circumstances, in general we recommend that you review your will every 5 years to determine if it still accurately reflects your wishes. In the event that you wish to make changes, our wills lawyers can assist with either drafting a new will, or creating a codicil to allow for small changes to your existing will.

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