Estate planning as an Alberta business owner is significantly more complex than dealing only with personal assets. Wills, trusts and other estate planning documents of business owners should also cover their business assets. Dealing with large estates, tax issues and business succession will likely complicate the process. The business owner may be unsure of whether to seek legal counsel, and looking at specific questions might provide the answer.
Many Albertans might consider do-it-yourself kits when they decide it is time to address estate planning. The amount of money they can save by finding cheap -- or even free -- offers to draft wills online is often the primary consideration for choosing to proceed without legal counsel. However, the slightest mistake can ultimately result in a will being declared invalid, and it is therefore not surprising that the DIY kits typically have disclaimers that seek to absolve the entity that offers the service of any responsibility for errors and omissions.
Many people in Alberta do not realize the importance of estate planning, and those who do might not realize that estate plans do not only serve a purpose after the death of the testator. While wills and estates might record the testator's wishes for distributing assets after death, there are ways to protect his or her interests in the event of incapacitation. Establishing powers of attorney can protect a person who becomes unable to handle financial and medical matters.
Technological development has changed how most people in Alberta and across Canada navigate their daily lives, including their finances. Goods are ordered and paid for online and dealing with bills, bank accounts and more are done on smartphones, laptops and PCs. This has also brought about changes in the way wills and estates are handled.
According to a recent survey, over 50% of Canadian adults, including many in Alberta, have not taken the trouble to do estate planning. The survey also addressed why the individuals who don't have wills have not made the effort to have them. Almost 30% of those without signed wills felt they could not afford to have wills drafted, or they had no idea how to go about establishing a will.
Drafting estate plans needs careful consideration of various matters that will affect the decisions made. Many people in Alberta choose to seek legal counsel to support and guide them through setting up their wills and estates. The choice of beneficiaries is one aspect that offers various options, each with its pros and cons. Along with irrevocable, revocable and contingent beneficiaries, there might be minor children to add as well.
Losing a loved one is understandably traumatic, and it could be even more difficult for a surviving loved one to learn that he or she was unfairly treated or disinherited by the deceased. There could be many questions about contesting the will and not a lot of time in which to take action. Learning about the steps to take under Alberta laws will be a time-sensitive matter to deal with before the estate is settled.
When a person in Alberta does estate planning, he or she usually nominates a trustworthy person as the executor of the will. This is also known as an estate representative whose task it will be to administer the estate of the deceased person. It could be a daunting task, and it might be sensible to consider the implications carefully before accepting to play that role.
Although drafting a holographic (handwritten) will seems the more cost-effective way to handle estate planning in Alberta, it might be exactly the opposite. The costs of having these wills interpreted by lawyers and the courts are typically significantly higher than the costs of formally drafted wills from the onset. This also applies to the preprinted will kits that are available online.
With online options of do-it-yourself estate planning, some people in Alberta might choose this low-cost option instead of paying for the services of an experienced lawyer. However, drafting a do-it-yourself will could have an adverse and costly impact on their estates. The outcome might lead to unintended beneficiaries receiving the assets that were meant to be inherited by others.