Wills & Personal Planning

Island Law Office can help you prepare your Will and personal planning documents.

What is a Will?

A Will is a document that leaves instructions that your executor must follow after you pass away.  A Will doesn’t have any power during your lifetime but the moment you die, your Will comes into effect. There are special requirements to make your Will effective – for instance your Will needs to be signed by you in front of two adult witnesses, all three of you need to watch each other signing and all three of you need to sign the Will.

Even if you don't have many assets, having a Will is a good idea for other reasons - for instance if you have minor children, you can appoint a guardian to take care of them.  This is particularly important if you are the only guardian.  Also, if you die without a Will and you have minor children who inherit your assets, then the Public Guardian and Trustee becomes the trustee for the child's assets until the child reaches 19.  This can complicate things because the child's guardian then needs to deal with the Public Guardian and Trustee to get money for their living expenses or their education whereas if you have a Will, you can appoint a trustee you choose to make those decisions.

What is personal planning?

"Personal planning" is the term that refers to the planning you do to appoint someone to help you with your financial decisions while you are alive and decisions relating to your personal care and health care if you are unable to to make those decisions yourself. 

One type of planning document relates to your finances and gives power to your trusted representative to step into your shoes and deal with your financial matters.  This document is called a Power of Attorney.  Another type relates to your health care and personal care decisions.  This document is called a Representation Agreement.

These documents can be used when you need help, for instance, if you were in a car accident and not able to communicate, your trusted representative can make health care decisions for you or take care of your finances. You might also need to have the help of your trusted representative once you become elderly and need to have help making decisions.

Estates & probate

what is estate administration?

Island Law Office can help you deal with the administration of the estate when someone you care about passes away.  Some people want to do as much as possible themselves and others want more help.  Either way, Island Law Office can assist you.

"Estate administration" is the term that refers to the steps that must be taken when someone dies.  It includes things like making the funeral arrangements, notifying organizations and government departments about the death, making sure the estate's assets are protected, applying to court to obtain authority to deal with the estate, paying off any debts of the estate, filing income tax returns and distributing the estate to the proper beneficiaries, just to name a few. 

An "executor" is a person appointed under a Will to carry out the instructions that are in the Will.  An "administrator" is a person that is appointed by the court when there is no Will.  Both roles do the same important job.  Keep in mind that if you start dealing with the assets of an estate, then you are legally bound to continue until you get discharged by the court so its a good idea to come see a lawyer right at the beginning before you take any steps in dealing with the estate.  

Real Estate

what is a conveyance?

Island Law Office can help you with the sale or purchase of your residential property.  This area of law is often referred to as “conveyancing".

“Conveyancing" is the term that refers to the transfer of property from one owner to another.  When buying or selling, your realtor will help you with preparing and signing the contract and a lawyer will help you with processing the transaction. There are a number of documents other than the contract that need to be signed by both parties to process the transaction, including mortgage documents if you are buying a property with the help of a lender. 

The seller is responsible to pay for any costs up to the adjustment date and the buyer is responsible for costs from that point onward.  One of the documents that is prepared is called a “statement of adjustments" which shows the breakdown of what the seller is responsible for and what the buyer is responsible for.  For instance, if the seller has already paid the annual property tax for the whole year but the buyer will own the property for part of that year, then the buyer will owe the seller part of that amount.  In that situation, the statement of adjustments will show a credit being given to the seller for that amount.

Both the seller and the buyer sign a range of documents before the closing date.  On the closing date the transfer of ownership is registered in the Land Title Office and the money is paid to the seller.  If the seller had a mortgage on the property, then the seller's lawyer will arrange to pay off the mortgage using part of the money received from the buyer.

Family & Other matters

getting a divorce

Island Law Office can help you with your uncontested family matter.  For instance, if you have already settled your differences and you just need a divorce, we can help you with that. 

making an agreement

We can also help you with an agreement that sets out how you and your partner want to organize things if your relationship ends.  The Family Law Act in BC sets out how family matters are dealt with if you are married or if you are living together for at least two years so if you want something different than what the Family Law Act says, you should enter into an agreement setting out what that arrangement is.

People want marriage or cohabitation agreements for different reasons.  Sometimes it's because one party has more assets than the other person.  Sometimes it's because one party has more debt.  An older couple may want to have an agreement because it is a subsequent relationship for each of them and they want to make sure their assets are going to be preserved for their children rather than be divided up between them if they separate.  A younger couple may want to have an agreement because one of their parents is going to give or lend money to one of them to buy a house but they don't want that benefit to stay with the other person if the couple breaks up.  Whatever your reason, it's a good idea to get legal advice to see whether an agreement is a good fit for your situation.

Other matters

Island Law Office can help you with other matters, too.  For instance, we can help you prepare a travel consent or notarize documents.  Give us a call and we'll try our best to help you out!