Many people in Alberta feel uncomfortable discussing or even considering their own mortality. However, those who die without establishing wills and estates could make life very difficult for the surviving loved ones. Estate planning can give directions about how to distribute a person’s assets after his or her death.
Whenever a person dies without a valid will, his or her estate would be considered intestate. Under Canadian laws, the province in which the deceased person lived will then decide how the assets will be distributed, and the fact that there is no will means that the province will have no regard for the wished of the deceased person. Under the intestacy laws, the surviving spouse typically receives the first $50,000 of the estate value. The balance would then be divided between the spouse and any children, with the parents of the deceased person next in line, and then his or her siblings.
Dying intestate will also bring about extra expenses and delays because the court will appoint a bonded administrator who will handle the duties of the estate’s executor. Furthermore, a Public Trustee or bonded guardian must also be appointed to manage the assets received by children who are under age 19. Appointing the administrators is typically time-consuming and expensive.
The sensible step would be to face the inescapable fact that everybody’s life ends at some time and to seek the support and guidance of an Alberta lawyer who has experience in dealing with wills and estates. The lawyer can explain the deemed disposition tax and help to formulate an estate plan that will minimize the exposure to tax. Legal counsel can also ensure that assets go to the intended beneficiaries.