Recently, one of our firm’s clients passed away. A former lawyer of our firm had prepared a will for this client previously. Therefore, we contacted the Personal Representative identified in her will to see if we could be of assistance to her in the administration of the estate. When I spoke to the Personal Representative, she told me that she had been friends with the deceased many years earlier but that she had not seen or spoken to her friend in over 3 years. Furthermore, she said that she had never been told by her friend that she was making her the Personal Representative of her will. By the time she died, the deceased’s will was almost 30 years old and the person designated as the Personal Representative wanted nothing to do with the administration of the estate. Instead, she renounced her role as Personal Representative of the deceased’s will. Unfortunately for the deceased’s beneficiaries, this will ultimately create more steps and difficulty in probating the will.
Hopefully, this real-life scenario demonstrates the importance of making sure that your will is up-to-date and that you seek the prior approval of the person you wish to appoint as the Personal Representative of your will and/or the Guardian of your children in the event of your untimely death.
Another reason to dust off your will and give it another once-over is because the legislation in Alberta regarding estate planning and management has changed recently, with the coming into force, on February 1, 2012, of the new Wills and Succession Act,. The changes brought about by this new legislation include the order in which wills are dealt with if more than one person dies at the same time, what constitutes revocation of a will, changes regarding gifts to an ex-spouse or adult interdependent partner, methods of family support through the estate, etc.
Because our circumstances (and even the laws) change over time, it is very important to review and update your will regularly to ensure that it is up-to-date and that it complies with the laws and adequately reflects your current intentions.
If you would like to update your will, desire additional information regarding the changes resulting from the new Wills and Succession Act or require professional estate assistance, please contact myself or one of our other knowledgeable lawyers.