Epilogue Announces Launch In BC!
As British Columbians, you have access to some of Canada’s most beautiful landmarks—from the majestic mountaintops of the Rockies to the endlessly blue Pacific ocean. And now, they have access to something else…
We’re thrilled to announce that residents of B.C. can now complete their estate planning online with Epilogue. Anyone who needs a basic Will can go online and complete one in about 20 minutes—simple as that! B.C. is the third province to gain access to Epilogue’s simple, straightforward online estate planning platform, which brings us that much closer to our ultimate goal of democratizing estate planning for all Canadians.
Frequently asked questions
We know you might not always associate the word ‘simple’ with ‘estate planning’, so we’re here to answer any questions you have.
How old do I have to be to make a Will in British Columbia?
According to B.C.’s Wills, Estates, and Succession Act, anyone 16 years of age or older can make a Will.
That said, in order to use Epilogue we require that you be the age of majority in your province. That means in B.C., you need to be at least 19 to make your Will using Epilogue.
What is a common-law partner entitled to in British Columbia?
A common-law relationship (also called a marriage-like relationship) is a relationship where you and your partner have lived together in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years.
If you have a common-law partner, B.C.’s estate planning laws treat you and your partner the same way they’d treat a married couple. In the context of Wills and estates, B.C.’s laws call your common-law partner your “spouse,” and they’re entitled to the same rights as a legally married spouse would be.
If you die without a Will in B.C., your common-law partner would still have a right to part of your estate. The same situation plays out very differently if you live in a province like Ontario, where estate laws don’t automatically give a portion of your estate to your common-law spouse.
What happens to my kids if I die?
If you’re a parent to minor children, you can appoint a person (or persons) who will take care of your children if you pass away before they turn 19 years old. This person is called a guardian.
Ultimately, the provincial court appoints the legal guardian of your children. As long as you have a Will where you express your wishes for guardianship, the courts will generally respect your decision unless there’s a really good reason not to do so.
When it comes to the assets that you are leaving behind to your children, if you don’t have a Will in place, everything you leave them will go to the Public Guardian and Trustee to be managed until they turn 19. At that time, it will all be distributed to your children all at once.
If you make a Will, the money left to your children can go into a “trust”, which means it gets managed by a “trustee” that you name in the Will. This is an opportunity to name someone you trust (no pun intended) to look after the money for your children.
You can also decide that the money should be kept in the trust until an age that is later than 19 (for example, 21, 25, or 30) if you think that would be a better time for your children to receive their inheritance.
What happens if I die without a Will in British Columbia?
Dying without a Will is called dying intestate. Without a Will, your estate is distributed according to the default laws in the province.
The rules differ depending on your situation. Here are some common ones:
- A spouse and children: what everyone gets depends on whether you had your children with your spouse or with someone in another relationship.
- If all your children are from you and your spouse: your spouse gets all the furniture and $300,000 “off the top” of your estate, and the rest is divided one-half to the spouse and one-half to the children.
- If your children are from a prior/different relationship: your surviving spouse gets $150,000 “off the top,” and the rest is divided one-half to the spouse and one-half to the children.
- Children but no surviving spouse: your estate gets divided evenly among your kids.
- No lineal descendants: your assets go to your parents.
No matter which way you slice it, or which stage of life you’re in, not having a Will strips away your authority to decide what to do with your own things. That’s why it’s so important to make one.
What is an Enduring Power of Attorney?
An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA) is a document that appoints an individual to take care of making decisions about your property and finances if you become unable to manage them yourself. This includes things like general banking needs, paying bills, and managing investments.
The person making the EPOA is called the “Adult”. When it comes to real estate, the Adult has two options:
- Authorize their attorney(s) to deal with the real estate if they become incapable. This can include buying, selling and mortgaging property. In this case, the Adult has to sign the document in the presence of a lawyer or notary and have them certify their signature.
- Not authorize their attorney(s) to deal with real estate. If this is the case, they don’t need to have their signatures certified and can choose to sign their EPOA in the presence of a lawyer/notary or simply two witnesses.
In B.C. the attorney(s) are also required to sign the EPOA.
What is a Representation Agreement and do I need one?
A Representation Agreement is a document that appoints someone to make personal health care decisions should the “Adult” (the person who wants their personal/health care managed) be unable to care for themselves.
The agreement must be signed in the presence of one lawyer/notary, or in the presence of two non-lawyer/notary witnesses.
Unlike other provinces, in B.C. the Representatives also must sign the agreement; however, their signatures do not need to be witnessed.
It’s a good idea to make and sign a Representation at the same time you make your Will since wishes relating to personal/health care are deeply personal and it’s the only way to ensure your wishes will be followed even when you are unable to express them yourself.
What happens if I own property outside of British Columbia?
If you own property in a province other than British Columbia, it’s a good idea to go to a lawyer for advice on how to write your Will. Other places might have different rules about estates—for example, they could require that specific types of property be left to specific people, and override what you want to say in your Will.
If you own property outside of Canada, you should also talk to a lawyer who specializes in that specific jurisdiction.
Where do I register my Will?
BC is one of the few provinces that has a provincial registry for Wills. Once a Will is created, a person (or their lawyer) should register their will online with the BC Vital Statistics Agency Wills Registry.
I’m ready to get started! What do I do next?
To celebrate our launch in B.C., we’re offering everyone 20% off their estate planning documents with Epilogue! Just use code BC20 at checkout. No need to procrastinate any longer, it only takes about 20 minutes to make a legally binding Will online and get peace of mind knowing you’ve protected the ones you love.
Still have questions? Feel free to reach out to us at any time via live chat, phone, or email!