Wills & Estates
You can be confident that Johnston Ming Manning LLP’s lawyers have the skills and experience to deal with all matters that may arise in the administration of an estate or will.
A will allows you to determine who will administer your estate upon your death and also who will share in your estate. If you have young children, you will want to specify who will care for them in the event of your death, and any other details necessary to safeguard their financial stability.
We know that you have worked hard to accumulate your assets over your lifetime and it is important to ensure that as much of your estate as possible is available to your heirs. Depending on your individual circumstances, you may have the option to opt out of certain tax amounts that might otherwise be payable upon your death, or defer those payments to a later date. The lawyers at Johnston Ming Manning LLP, with assistance from your tax advisors where necessary, can help you achieve your goals to ensure that your hard-earned estate is distributed according to your wishes.
Powers of Attorney and Personal Directives
As we grow older, the possibility increases that we may lose the ability to make proper decisions with respect to personal matters and also with respect to matters regarding our property. Fortunately, the law allows us to select trusted persons who can make decisions for us if we are unable to do so.
An enduring power of attorney is a document that allows another person, known as an attorney (not to be confused with professional legal representation), to look after your financial affairs, including management of your property. The enduring power of attorney can be written to provide that the person(s) appointed may only act if you have become incapacitated or, if desired, it can be written to permit the person appointed to act from the moment that the document is signed.
A personal directive is a document in which you may specify who will make personal decisions for you if you are unable to do so. This includes making decisions on where you may live and with whom you may visit and associate. It also allows the person you have named, known as an agent, to consent to health care treatment and to request that medical treatment be ended in appropriate circumstances. If you become mentally incompetent and have not signed an enduring power of attorney or a personal directive, it will be necessary for an interested person, such as a family member, to make an application to the Court of Queen’s Bench to be appointed as your trustee (to deal with your property) and as your guardian (to make personal decisions).
While the court allows this procedure where necessary, it has some notable disadvantages:
- Having an individual appointed through a Court Order can involve significant costs and the trustee’s accounts must be presented to the Court on a regular basis. Additionally, the order must be renewed from time to time.
- As a result of the process to obtain the Court Order, your personal property information will be available for anyone to see as a matter of public record on file with the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench.
- It is also possible that the interested party who applies to the court to be your trustee or guardian may not be the person you would have chosen to act on your behalf.
It may be in the best interests of you, and your loved ones, to consider your legal options prior to a possible diminished capacity to make decisions on your own behalf. At Johnston Ming Manning LLP we have a great deal of experience in preparing powers of attorney and personal directives. Our goal is to ensure that your needs will be well taken care of in the event that you become unable to look after them yourself.
Administration of Estates
At Johnston Ming Manning LLP, we understand that sometimes individuals are chosen to be the Personal Representative (known as an executor if appointed in a will) of a friend or relative even though they may not have adequate experience with estate administration. Our lawyers and support personnel have a great deal of experience and will be able to guide you through the steps necessary to complete the administration of the deceased’s estate in a timely and efficient manner.
We will assist you through all stages of estate administration, including locating and taking control of assets, determining who is entitled to share in the estate and in what proportion, paying the estate debts, and distributing the estate assets. We will also determine whether or not it will be necessary to have the will submitted to the Court for probate and if so, will prepare that application on your behalf.
We will also assist you (with the help of your accountant, if required) in ensuring that any taxes that arise as a result of the deceased’s death are properly dealt with. Once all of the claims for debts and taxes have been paid, we will assist you in accounting to the beneficiaries and giving effect to the bequests that have been specified in the will.