Wills & Estates

Every adult should have three testamentary or quasi-testamentary documents in his or her inventory so that life cannot sneak up on you unannounced.  You should have a Will, a Power of Attorney and a Representation Agreement.

A Will names someone who will be responsible for acting in the event of your death.  He is called your executor.  A Will names someone as guardian of your infant children in the event of your death.  And it divides your assets among the people you want them to be divided among.  A Will can do a number of other things as well but at the least it will do these three.  You should have one.

A Power of Attorney appoints someone to make financial decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself.  A continuing Power of Attorney does the same and is designed to take effect if you become incompetent.  As becoming incompetent to make decisions is quite often a permanent problem you need to do the Power of Attorney now, not later.

A Representation Agreement appoints someone to make health decision on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself.  The comments about incompetency in relation to a Power of Attorney are equally applicable to a Representation Agreement.

We draft Wills, Powers of Attorney and Representation Agreements.  We would be pleased to draft one for you.  Firm quotes are available on request.

We also provide Probate services for the estates of deceased persons.  In simple terms, if when you die you own anything of value that is in your name only and needs to be registered somewhere (a house, a car, a share certificate and almost everything else) your estate will need to be probated.  Letters Probate if you left a Will, Letters of Administration if you did not.  These are the terms used by Courts.

Probate (or Administration) is no more than a Court stamp of validity on your Will or a Court order that the general rules of administration of estates applies to your death.  It is a formal procedure that people often find tedious and complicated.  And it comes at an emotional time.  We offer flat rate probate services for residents of British Columbia (or non-residents who have assets here).  Firm quotes are available on request.

Property Law

Are you buying or selling a home?  Re-mortaging?  We have been acting for buyers and sellers since 1973.  We offer competitive rates and a professional approach. Give us a call or e mail us for firm information on costs.


Divorce and Family Law

Our firm offers legal services in relation to divorce and family law.

In Canada divorce is available under the Divorce Act, a federal law.  Collateral family law relief, dealing with children, support issues and division of property on dissolution of a relationship (common law or marriage)  is available under the Divorce Act and also under provincial law.  In British Columbia the principal statue dealing with family law collateral relief is the Family Law Act.  Similar statutes are in force in each province, in each state in the United States and in most western style democratic countries throughout the world.

The general rules that family law courts follow in all jurisdictions tend to be more or less the same. Some of those general rules are as follows:

Where children are involved a court that is asked to make a decision about where children are going to live when their parents separate will invariably make that decision on the basis of what is best for the children, not on the basis of what is best for the competing parents.

Most commonly the children will end up residing with one parent most of the time and visiting the other parent on a regular schedule.  The most common visiting schedule involves the visiting parent having the children with him or her every second weekend and half of all holiday periods with holiday periods being determined by the School calendar.

In most disputed cases the mother ends up being the principal parent.  That is a clear reflection of societal norms as many (probably most) relationships are still “traditional marriages” in which dad spends most of his time working and mom spends most of her time caring for the children.  Courts are generally loathe to impose a different division of responsibility simply because there is a separation.

Support will be ordered.  In Canada we now have more clarity in this area.  Child support will be ordered as determined by the Child Support Guidelines and Spousal support with be ordered as determined by the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines.  These are federally generated tables and will apply across Canada.  Similar provisions are in effect in most countries.

Assets (and liabilities) will be divided equally.  In BC assets that you owned prior to a relationship are exempt from division to the extent of their pre-relationship value and inheritances are exempt.  Everything else gets divided.  And there are various provisions that can result in even exempt assets being divided if it would be unreasonable not to divide them.

Emotions complicate family law.  If you can take the emotion of the equation you are more than halfway home.  Lawyers can do that for you as can a good and rational friend or your minister or anyone else who is not actually involved.  So if you are facing a separation consider getting some advice.

Lawyers offer consultations for a few hundred dollars.  We certainly do.  Give us a call or contact us via e mail and we can talk about it.  Good advice is worth its weight in gold.

It is possible to resolve all of the issues that arise at the end of a relationship with a minimum of pain, a minimum of emotional damage, both to yourself and your children and a minimum of expense.  That in our opinion is always the goal.



First blog post

On this blog we will provide information and advice for people seeking answers in divorce, property sale and purchase and wills and estates situations.  Where appropriate we will charge a fee for this advice.