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Estate Beneficiaries: What Are Your Rights? | Bernard Lau and Co. Law

An estate comprises all the assets a person owns at his or her death, less any liabilities. An estate can include money, property, stocks and shares. Through a will, an estate owner establishes who will benefit from his or her estate upon death. Individuals who benefit from a person’s estate are called estate beneficiaries.

Rights of an estate beneficiary

As an estate beneficiary, you are entitled to certain rights, as follows:

The right to be notified that you stand to inherit from an estate

Estate beneficiaries have a right to receive the property bequeathed to them. Executors, the individuals responsible for administering an estate, are required to notify beneficiaries within a reasonable time that they have inherited from an estate.

The right to be apprised of the inheritance value

Estate beneficiaries also have the right to be informed of the value of their inheritance. However, before a beneficiary is issued his or her portion of an estate, the will must be probated. Upon probate of the will, the value of the inheritance may be affected by any liabilities on the estate. Depending on the amount of liability, a beneficiary may lose part or all of his or her inheritance.

The right to be apprised of proceedings of administration

Beneficiaries have the right to be apprised of what is happening in the administration of the estate. For instance, whether there are issues that might delay settling the estate.

The right to receive your inheritance promptly

As a beneficiary, you have a right to the timely receipt of your inheritance. Legally, executors are allowed one year within which to settle an estate and transfer assets to beneficiaries. After that, a beneficiary can compel an executor to settle the estate or petition the court to remove the executor. You must note, however, that the process to settle an estate is a lengthy one. Depending on the complexity of the estate, the process can sometimes take more than the allotted year.

The right to access the estate’s accounting details

Beneficiaries have the right to an accurate, detailed account of the estate’s activities, including incomes, expenditures and disbursements, in a reasonable time frame. A beneficiary can resort to the courts if he or she is in disagreement with the accounting by the executor.

The right to an executor who acts in the beneficiary’s best interest

Beneficiaries have the right to have an executor act in their best interest. If a beneficiary is unhappy with how an executor handles the administration of an estate, he or she can petition the courts to have the executor removed and a new one appointed. The removal of an executor must be justified. Justifiable circumstances include:

  • Breach of fiduciary duty
  • Death
  • Illness
  • Estate theft
  • Failure to manage the estate

Do you require the services of a wills and estates lawyer in Richmond?

If you are an estate beneficiary and require the services of a wills and estates lawyer, contact us at Bernard Lau and Co. Law Corporation. Our experienced Richmond wills and estates lawyer is available to provide legal advice on any issue concerning your case.

Call us today to schedule a consultation.

The content on this website is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice or an opinion of any kind. Users of this website are advised to seek specific legal advice by contacting members of Bernard Lau and Co. (or their own legal counsel) regarding any specific legal issues. Bernard Lau and Co. does not warrant or guarantee the quality, accuracy or completeness of any information on this website and should not be relied upon as being proper, accurate, timely or fit for any particular individual’s own circumstances other than for educational purposes.
Accessing or using this website does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Although your use of the website may facilitate access to or communications with members of Bernard Lau and Co. via e-mail transmissions or otherwise via the website, receipt of any such communications or transmissions by any member of Bernard Lau and Co. does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Bernard Lau and Co. does not guarantee the security or confidentiality of any communications made by e-mail or otherwise through this website.

The Real Estate Conveyancing Process, Simplified | Bernard Lau and Co.

Real estate conveyancing involves the legal transfer of the ownership of a property from one party to another. If you are buying, selling or refinancing a property in Richmond, British Colombia, having an experienced conveyancing lawyer will help to make the process run smoothly.

The financial institution and the realtor

Early on in the transaction when obtaining a loan to buy a property, you will likely meet with your lender or mortgage broker to determine the amount of money you will be qualified to borrow. In selecting a property, your realtor plays an equally important role in guiding you on the best price for which to sell or buy the property.

Once your realtor has found a property for you to purchase, or an ideal buyer for a home you are trying to sell, a purchase contract will be drafted. It will include the property details, price, and transaction dates for all parties involved in the purchase, along with other terms and conditions or even subject clauses.

Buyers should be discussing the mortgage with the lender as soon as possible, preferably to obtain a mortgage commitment or pre-approval with the bank. This is a promise from the financial institution to lend money to the buyer for the purchase of the property as long as certain conditions are met.

Your conveyancing lawyer and the conveyancing process

Once your contract is binding and completed, you should forward the contract to your conveyancing lawyer. Your conveyancing lawyer will review it along with the title search to ensure that all legal requirements to effect the transfer are in order. This is known as the due diligence process. The title of the property is reviewed to confirm that its details and those of the registered owner are accurate. Your conveyancing lawyer will also ensure that all related financial and legal obligations are settled as part of the closing. These obligations may include removing liens, caveats, paying off property taxes, strata fees, mortgages, arrears and dealing with charges on the title. Your lawyer will also work with your lender to take care of any mortgages you may be getting or discharging as part of the transaction.

Once all the pre-transaction processes have been reviewed, the documents will be prepared for both the seller and the buyer to sign.

These documents are reviewed and explained and all questions addressed before the closing date or during the signing. After the documents are signed by both parties, they are again reviewed by their respective conveyancing lawyers. A title search is then conducted again right before the registration to ensure everything is acceptable for filing to the land title office.

When the mortgage funds are released by the financial institution and deposited to the buyer’s lawyer in trust on the completion date, the buyer’s lawyer will conduct a final check to ensure all documents required for registration are in place, before releasing the funds to the seller’s lawyer in trust to pay off the necessary charges or arrears as necessary. The keys to the property are then exchanged by the realtors on the agreed possession date set out in the Contract. Your conveyancing lawyer will prepare a final report on the transfer of the property and order a State of Title Certificate for purchasers which will be received approximately 4-8 weeks after closing.

Bernard Lau and Co. Law Corporation

Bernard Lau and Co. is a boutique law firm delivering efficient legal services.
The firm is equipped with a team of reputable, experienced and diverse legal professionals ready to guide you through your real estate conveyancing process. If you are seeking a law firm in Richmond, BC to assist you with your real estate transaction, please schedule an appointment or call us at 604-285-5240.

The content on this website is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice or an opinion of any kind. Users of this website are advised to seek specific legal advice by contacting members of Bernard Lau and Co. (or their own legal counsel) regarding any specific legal issues. Bernard Lau and Co. does not warrant or guarantee the quality, accuracy or completeness of any information on this website and should not be relied upon as being proper, accurate, timely or fit for any particular individual’s own circumstances other than for educational purposes.
Accessing or using this website does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Although your use of the website may facilitate access to or communications with members of Bernard Lau and Co. via e-mail transmissions or otherwise via the website, receipt of any such communications or transmissions by any member of Bernard Lau and Co. does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Bernard Lau and Co. does not guarantee the security or confidentiality of any communications made by e-mail or otherwise through this website.

How to Choose an Executor for Your Will | Bernard Lau and Co

The decision to select an executor for your will should not be taken lightly, as your executor will have to carry out many duties to administer your estate and work with your beneficiaries. Your executor may also be one of your beneficiaries. Selecting your executor gives you control over who manages your estate, rather than leaving that decision out of your hands. Ideally, your executor should not be much older than you (younger is best!) and should be reasonably healthy.

In many instances, but not all, one of those executor’s duties is probating the will, which is the formal process of the Court approving your will. The role also entails making funeral arrangements and ensuring that the estate expenses, including funeral costs are paid. For example, your executor will be tasked with ensuring your debts and any liabilities such as tax arrears are paid. Ultimately, after all the estate duties and liabilities are taken care of, your executor will see to it that your assets are distributed to your beneficiaries per the instructions set out in your will.

When deciding who you should appoint as your executor, you should consider a few things:

A trusted family member or friend

Do you have a close relative or friend who is honest, objective, and willing to carry out the aforementioned duties? You may consider appointing a trusted friend or family member as executor if you’re confident that he or she can remain fair, honest and diplomatic throughout the process. Spouses and children remain popular choices for executors as they know your situation best and maybe your most trusted individuals.

A professional executor

If you’re unable to identify a family member or friend who can act as an executor, then a professional executor can fill that role. This is especially if you foresee familial issues or if your estate is complex. A professional executor is an independent 3rd party with the necessary skill and experience to administer estates impartially, which can be important particularly if there is tension between your spouse and your children from a previous relationship or if you have an estate that you feel may be better handled by a professional executor. Keep in mind that professional executors may not be necessary in most cases, that they may not be as familiar with your personal situation, and that they do charge professional fees which will reduce the amount leftover for distribution to your beneficiaries. Research your professional executors carefully before you appoint one.

Having more than one executor

In some cases, you may wish to choose two people for the role to ensure some degree of oversight. There are some benefits but also drawbacks with having multiple executors, including the potential for disagreement and conflicts, so it’s best you speak with a wills and estates lawyer to advise you if this may be a good idea or not. Having a backup executor, however, is almost always a good idea.

Your location

Let’s say you’ve built a life for yourself in BC. It would be ideal for you to appoint an executor who lives in the same region as yourself. Administering the estate may require your executor to make frequent visits to properties, the lawyer’s office and also meeting with beneficiaries, which can be more expensive and time-consuming for the executor if he or she lives far away.

Someone who is financially literate

Your executor should have a general understanding of financial matters. He or she should also be able to identify and consult with the appropriate specialists for matters that require their expertise. For example, your executor may be required to prepare an accounting of your estates distribution (with the assistance of a probate lawyer) that outlines how your estate assets have been paid out, so a basic level of financial literacy would be helpful.

Wills and estates lawyer in Richmond

Life is filled with uncertainties, but it’s reassuring to know that with a proper estate plan, you can have control over some things, even after you’re gone.

This list of considerations is non-exhaustive, and each person’s estate is different. Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice, but general information only. We recommend that you seek independent legal advice from an experienced wills and estates lawyer to help you craft an estate plan that’s suitable for your situation. A simple will-kit that you download, purchase online or in a store may save you money in the short-term, but may not be appropriate for your situation, and can lead to costly errors or headaches that an experienced wills and estates lawyer could have corrected in the beginning.

If you need help with estate matters such as writing a will or advice relating to your estate plans including selecting an executor, contact us at Bernard Lau and Co. Law Corporation. Let our Richmond wills and estates lawyer help you get your affairs in order.

The content on this website is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice or an opinion of any kind. Users of this website are advised to seek specific legal advice by contacting members of Bernard Lau and Co. (or their own legal counsel) regarding any specific legal issues. Bernard Lau and Co. does not warrant or guarantee the quality, accuracy or completeness of any information on this website and should not be relied upon as being proper, accurate, timely or fit for any particular individual’s own circumstances other than for educational purposes.
Accessing or using this website does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Although your use of the website may facilitate access to or communications with members of Bernard Lau and Co. via e-mail transmissions or otherwise via the website, receipt of any such communications or transmissions by any member of Bernard Lau and Co. does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Bernard Lau and Co. does not guarantee the security or confidentiality of any communications made by e-mail or otherwise through this website.

How Can a Civil Litigation Lawyer Help? | Bernard Lau and Co. Law Office

Civil litigation refers to instances where two or more people are involved in a non-criminal legal dispute, and generally speaking, one or both parties believe they are entitled to money or a specific relief that can be granted by the Court.

It can cover a wide variety of different cases, including everything from disputes involving the purchase and sale of real estate or other goods or services, debt collections and even human rights discrimination.

If you wish to file a lawsuit, you should consult a civil litigation lawyer first. A civil litigation lawyer will evaluate your case to determine whether it has a good chance of being successful, the benefits and risks of proceeding with the lawsuit, as well as propose creative, out-of-court solutions that may not require a full trial or even Court attendance.

Among the types of litigation cases that Bernard Lau and Co. primarily handle are:

Real estate disputes

Real estate disputes can include breaches of contract by buyers or sellers, co-ownership of property disputes, beneficial ownership disputes, liens and freezing of real estate assets and deposit forfeiture cases. A related subcategory can include realtor negligence or breach of fiduciary duties whereupon realtors may not have acted in the best interests of their clients and have resulted in monetary loss for their clients. Real estate disputes can be complex and the stakes can be quite high. Time is often of the essence and aggrieved parties are often best served if they are aware of their legal rights and remedies as early as possible so that they can immediately take action to preserve their rights against the subject property, often by deploying tactical tools such as a certificate of pending litigation or a caveat.

Defamation

Defamation involves the damaging of one’s reputation through false words either published in writing such as through internet postings, blogs or online reviews, or through traditional media. It can even occur via the spoken word if a 3rd party were present to overhear the defamation in question. Although monetary damages are typically sought, alternative solutions may involve issuing a cease-and-desist letter to limit the further dissemination of the defamatory message, the publishing of a formal retraction as well as the issuance of an apology by the offending party.

Choosing the right civil litigation lawyer

Although civil litigation lawyers can handle a range of matters, you may be best served to retain a lawyer who practices in exclusive practice areas. This is something you should consider when seeking to hire a lawyer for your particular case. The law office at Bernard Lau and Co. has extensive experience handling litigation matters particularly involving real estate disputes and defamation, including amassing years of trial and court experience from helping clients with problems such as yours. Our litigation cases have also attracted local and national media attention for their monetary and public interest significance. If you have a case matter and would like to see if our law office can assist you, please contact us at 604-285-5240.

The content on this website is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice or an opinion of any kind. Users of this website are advised to seek specific legal advice by contacting members of Bernard Lau and Co. (or their own legal counsel) regarding any specific legal issues. Bernard Lau and Co. does not warrant or guarantee the quality, accuracy or completeness of any information on this website and should not be relied upon as being proper, accurate, timely or fit for any particular individual’s own circumstances other than for educational purposes.
Accessing or using this website does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Although your use of the website may facilitate access to or communications with members of Bernard Lau and Co. via e-mail transmissions or otherwise via the website, receipt of any such communications or transmissions by any member of Bernard Lau and Co. does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Bernard Lau and Co. does not guarantee the security or confidentiality of any communications made by e-mail or otherwise through this website.

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***ATTENTION: We will be moving our office on January 1, 2023. Our new location is at #930-6388 No.3 Rd, Richmond, BC, across from Richmond Centre. Please call us at 604.285.5240 or email us if you have any questions. Thank you***