Did you know that the famous rapper Snoop Dogg doesn’t have a Last Will and Testament? He has, in his own colorful language, brushed off the very notion with a terse “I don’t give a f___  when I’m dead.”

Snoop Dogg isn’t the only celebrity without a Last Will and Testament in place. After the death of the late singer Prince in 2016, the world was shocked to learn that he did not have a Last Will and Testament (his beneficiaries are still squabbling over his assets).

The death of a famous celebrity should not be what compels you to finish that all-too important document, but it should serve as a reminder of how important it is to complete your Will. 

Alongside a Will, you should also think about the importance of a Power of Attorney and a Living Will.

You know what a Last Will and Testament is, but what are those other two documents?

My husband is very ill, and I need to manage our household expenses

A Power of Attorney document is integral to estate-planning. It is a document which designates a trustworthy person (e.g. a spouse, parent, child, etc.) legal authority over your finances, household expenses and if necessary, financial business decisions.

In what scenarios would this occur?

The most common scenario that usually comes to mind is using a Power of Attorney to take care of an elderly parent, but there are other scenarios you may not consider:

If you are driving to work one day and wind up in a horrific car accident, you may incur brain damage or slip into a coma. At this point, you obviously cannot communicate your wishes, and while the doctors are looking after you, who is looking after your expenses, your business and your household?  

That is what a Power of Attorney document is for.  You can appoint an individual (your Attorney) to manage your finances in the event you are unable to do so. 

Do you for instance, want to grant someone else the power to open and close bank accounts in your name? Sell, own or buy property in your name? That is what a Power of Attorney allows you to do, and these are just a few of the situations a Power of Attorney covers. It is definitely something you will want to get done.

This document, once properly signed and initialized, comes into effect right away and operates while you are alive. A Last Will and Testament comes into effect after your death.

What is the difference between a Last Will and Testament and a Living Will?

My husband is very ill, and I will be in charge of his health  

In the very same scenario mentioned above (the husband left comatose in a car accident), the difficulty lies not only in managing a spouse’s financial matters, but his ailing health as well.

A Living Will allows you to name an individual to make decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so. A Living Will also comes into effect while you are alive and covers a number of situations, including: appointing a decision maker for your health related choices; appointing alternate decision maker(s); donating organs; specifying end of life care, and more.

Do you want a blood transfusion? Do you want your organs donated if you pass away? If so, for what purpose would you want them donated for? Would you want your organs donated for medical purposes or scientific research?  A Living Will allows you to describe all of this in detail.

It is worth discussing all your wishes early on to ensure that you choose someone who will act on your behalf.

A paper trail

Obviously it is important to discuss these issues with family, relatives and other loved ones. A paper trail is just as important; authorities have to know what your thoughts and wishes are in relation to your health, finances, and your estate and assets.  Having written documents in relation to your wishes is always a good idea.

A famous celebrity like Snoop Dogg may not care about his children squabbling over his money, but you may care about your loved ones having to deal with lawyer fees, administration fees, infighting and court hearings.

Not having estate planning documents for the future is a bad idea. Don’t be like Snoop Dogg or Prince. Start your estate planning documents today and be prepared for anything in the future.

making a will

A Legal Will is a vital document for any individual.  Here are 5 key things to know about making a Will:

1. You need to appoint someone as your Executor

An executor is the person who will carry out the terms of your Will.  An executor is someone who you trust.  In many cases, people appoint the beneficiaries of their estate as their executor.  For example, a spouse, adult child or family member.  It also makes sense to have a back up person as an alternate executor if possible in case the first executor cannot or will not carry out the duties.

2. You can change your Will at anytime

Many people put off making a Will because they think that they have to get everything perfect and that things can never change.  On the contrary, a Will is a document that can be changed at anytime (even the second after signing it).  Wills will frequently mention that they revoke former Wills.  In addition, the latest Will is the one that would be valid based upon the date of the Will.  So, there is no reason to put off making a Will.  It is a good idea to put one together and then if it needs to be changed in the future, you can always change it.  A far better and safer option than not having a Will at all.

3. You can appoint a Guardian for your kids in a Will

A Will allows you to appoint someone you trust to look after your children.  This is one of the most important aspects of a Will because you are planning out your wishes on who you would like to take care of your kids in the event you are not around.  You can also appoint alternate guardians as well.

4. Wills do not have to be notarized or prepared by a lawyer

Wills do not have to be written by a lawyer or signed in front of a lawyer or notary.  On the contrary, Wills have been prepared for centuries based on some consistent characteristics that need to be included in a Will.  A Will made by yourself and witnessed properly is a legally binding Will.  If you have an overly complicated situation, you can always go to a lawyer but it is not required.

5. You should review your Will regularly

Many people make their Will and then forget to think about updating it as their life circumstances change.  Some of the factors that require a review of one’s Will may include:

  • An executor or beneficiary has died
  • A birth of a child
  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • A change in personal relationships
  • A change in one’s assets

Everyone should review their Will at least annually to make sure it is still consistent with their wishes.

 

The government of British Columbia recently announced a “Make your Will week” running from April 10 to April 16th 2016. The government emphasizing the importance of individuals creating your own Will should not be lost on people who procrastinate on making their Last Will and Testament.

It’s always best to have a Last Will and Testament under any circumstances, but if you already have one, you may want to consider making changes to your Will during these particular times:

When you are considering moving to a new province or territory;

When you are either expecting or have just had a child;

Getting married;

OR

Any particular time when major life circumstances change.

Having a Last Will and Testament is important under any circumstances, and it’s important to make sure that your Will is properly updated.

 

Click on the following link for more information on  Make a Will week in British Columbia.
Prince Rogers Nelson

The musical icon known as Prince passed away on April 21st 2016 at the age of 57. Prince Rogers Nelson died intestate (without a Will) at his home at Paisley Park in Minnesota. The estimated $150 million dollar fortune left behind by the mogul is now currently up in the air, as Minnesota inheritance laws will determine who the fortunate recipient will be.

Initially valued at $300 million, Prince’s fortunes have dwindled away over the years, possibly due as some would suggest, to a lack of high-powered attorneys and a constant rotation of financial advisers to look after his affairs.

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Canadian savings plans


Does this scenario sound familiar to you? You are concerned about an elderly relative who may be taken advantage of financially by another relative or close “friend.” The elderly relative has money disappearing and while you strongly presume that the suspect is that close relative or friend, you don’t want to create a rift by pointing fingers? You wonder what to do? Is speaking up and possibly causing a fight between family members the most likely scenario? 

A frantic granddaughter explains in a newspaper column that she feels caught between a rock and a hard place as her grandmother’s financial resources dwindle. The culprits are both a relative and a close friend of the grandmother’s. 

This problem occurs more often common than you would think. How would you handle this situation? This article provides insight into how this delicate situation should be handled. 


Imagine disgruntled relatives bickering over your legacy when you’re gone. Now imagine if you strongly dislike those relatives and don’t want to have anything to do with them. Well, the simple solution would be to cut them from your Will, right? Make sure they don’t inherit a dime and get some payback for the awful way your relatives treated you?

Apparently, it’s not that simple in Austria. Find out why one grandmother cut up her fortune in anger rather than simply disinheriting her grandkids from her Will:

Austrian woman shreds her fortune.

Celebrity wills


After the death of late comedian Robin Williams in 2014, there was an ongoing battle over his $100 million-dollar estate between his wife and three children, Zachary, Zelda and Cody. The contents of his legal Will and his estate had been fought over in an continuing dispute which has seen no resolution until very recently.

Some highlights to note over the court’s decision regarding William’s estate and assets are:

A) William’s wife, Susan, retains ownership of their home in Tiburon, California
B) William’s children have acquired ownership of William’s memorabilia and awards, along with other (unnamed) items

You can read more HERE.


If you’re familiar with the name Gifford, then you most likely know the name and reputation of famous talk show host, Kathie Lee Gifford. The co-host of Live with Regis and Kathie Lee reigned supreme on America’s airwaves for more than a decade, but her admittedly less known husband of 29 years,  Frank Gifford, had a successful television career of his own as the charismatic NFL sports commentator of Monday Night Football.

Originally married to Maxine Avis Ewat for six years, Frank divorced his first wife and married Kathie Lee in 1986. The marriage with Kathie produced two children: Cody (now 25) and Cassidy (now 22). His other three children, Jeff, Kyle and Victoria, were the product of his first marriage to Maxine.

Frank passed away on August 9th, 2015, just a few weeks shy of his 85th birthday.

Revelations surfaced last month that the majority of Frank’s $10 million dollar fortune was to be given to Kathie Lee and their children. Frank’s first wife, Maxine, was left nothing, while Jeff, Kyle and Victoria only received $2 million from that $10 million dollar fortune. Although an enormous sum to many, Frank’s Last Will and Testament clearly favours his second family over his first.

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We’ve previously written about a few famous singers who have succumbed to illness or have died in the past few years or so. This next singer is no exception.  Although not as famous as her peers in the music industry, Amy Winehouse proved herself to be an exceptional songstress with a beautiful voice. She passed away at the age of 27 in 2011 from an overdose. 

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Actress Ruth Ford, The Millionaire Butler


We’ve recently published many stories as of late, detailing the extravagant legacies left behind by some rather wealthy people. The deceased have left their mark on the world; donating vast sums of fortunes to charitable institutions, facilities, or to their loved ones.

Does an employee count as a “loved one?”

Indra Tamang is an former butler who inherited a fortune from his now-deceased employer, Ruth Ford. The fortune he inherited is his reward for his years of steadfast loyalty spanning over three decades, working as a cook and a caretaker for his now-deceased employer. Indra now owns an estate worth $8.4 million dollars.

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