How do we work?
The first thing we do is meet with you to prepare an estate plan for you, and discuss how best to draft your Will, given your family situation, your assets, your obligations and your wishes. It is never a fun task, and we know that estate planning is personal and, at times, complicated. Every person’s situation is unique and we listen first to clearly understand your life situation and your wishes. An estate plan can be simple or it can be complicated – it depends on your individual and particular circumstances.
Why do you need a Will?
If you have a well-drafted Will as part of your estate plan, the administration of your estate after your passing will go a lot smoother:
- Your estate will be resolved faster.
- You choose who will act as your executor.
- You decide who will be the guardian to look after your minor children.
- You decide how your estate is to be distributed.
- You can make special gifts to family and friends.
- You can reduce the taxes owing on your death by making charitable donations.
- You will reduce the risk of creating misunderstandings between family and friends.
- You have the opportunity to create testamentary trusts for beneficiaries for their protection.
What happens if I die without a will in Alberta?
A Will is a document that allows you to specify how your property is to be distributed after your death. When a person dies without a Will, it is referred to as an intestacy. In Alberta, when a person dies intestate (without a Will) or leaves property that is not disposed of by a Will, the Wills and Succession Act determines what will happen to your property. The assets will be distributed pursuant with the intestacy succession provisions of the Wills and Succession Act.
Importantly, the Wills and Succession Act includes provisions for Adult Interdependent Partners. An Adult Interdependent Partner is a person who has lived with another person in a relationship of interdependence for a continuous period of not less than 3 years, or of some permanence, if there is a child of the relationship. Alternatively, partners may become adult interdependent partners if they have entered into an adult interdependent partnership agreement together.
Accordingly, if a person dies intestate, Part 3 of the Wills and Succession Act specifies the distribution of an intestate estate as follows:
a. If a person dies leaving a surviving spouse or adult interdependent partner, but no children, the entire intestate estate is left to the surviving spouse or adult interdependent partner.
b. If a person dies leaving a spouse or adult interdependent partner and had children with that spouse or partner, the entire intestate estate goes to the surviving spouse or partner only.
c. If the deceased was married or in an adult interdependent relationship and had children, but not with that spouse or partner, the spouse or partner inherits a part of the estate (the greater of $150,000 or 50% of the estate) and the rest goes to the deceased’s children (divided evenly among one generation).
d. If a person dies leaving children, but no spouse or adult interdependent partner, the estate is distributed to the children, divided equally among one generation.
e. If a person dies leaving no spouse or adult interdependent partner and no children, the Wills and Succession Act lists several classes of people who can be beneficiaries, in priority sequence. The estate is distributed among people in the applicable class. If there are no people alive in a class, the next class will apply. The classes are as follows:
- Class 1: Surviving parents
- Class 2: Descendants of parents (i.e. siblings, nieces and nephews)
- Class 3: Grandparents or descendants of grandparents
- Class 4: Great-grandparents or descendants of great-grandparents
f. If a person dies leaving no spouse or adult interdependent partner and no blood relatives, Alberta’s Unclaimed Personal Property and Vested Property Act stipulates that the Government of Alberta will become the owner of the property if it remains unclaimed after 10 years.
If you want to ensure your property is distributed pursuant to your wishes after your death, contact Vogel LLP today to discuss your personal estate planning concerns. The estate team at Vogel LLP is uniquely positioned to help you design or update your Will to protect your interests and goals for the future.
Personal Estate Planning
Vogel LLP assists individuals with personal estate planning, which includes Wills, Enduring Powers of Attorney and Personal Directives. We understand the importance of creating an individualized estate plan concerning the transfer of our clients’ wealth to their intended beneficiaries, and we are experienced in drafting complex Wills to implement the estate plan. At Vogel LLP, we focus on the unique circumstances of each client’s situation in order to offer customized, efficient and practical estate planning advice. Contact us today to discuss your personal estate planning concerns.