Estate Planning Tips
There are many steps that need to be taken when settling an estate which may take an extended period of time to complete. However there are a few items that should be taken care of immediately. It is always a good idea to seek legal advice as soon as possible. A lawyer or notary public will advise you on matters such as probate and legal procedures.
If a will has been completed by the deceased, it should be located and secured. All important papers such as life insurance policies, real estate titles, stocks, bonds, and vehicle registrations should be located. Many people keep such papers in a safety deposit box. You will need to show the bank a death certificate prior to them opening it.
You will need to assemble all outstanding debts and bills. It would be wise to make a list of these and to notify the debtors if there is to be a delay in payment. A list of all payments made after the death such as funeral and cemetery expenses, phone, and cable payments. ALL CREDIT CARDS SHOULD BE DESTROYED and credit card companies notified.
An inventory of all assets should be started. This includes, vehicles, bank accounts, household contents, stocks, and any other personal belongings.
If the deceased lived alone, you may wish to cancel the telephone and cable. If the deceased was renting, the landlord should be contacted and informed of the death. If possible, it is wise to have someone to stay or at least watch any vacated properties.
Joint bank accounts, property titles and vehicles may be transferred into the surviving spouse prior to probate by presenting an original death certificate to the appropriate agency.
We have provided a Check List of Items you should receive or looking into for being the executor of someone's estate.
The Provincial Certificate of Death is your legal proof of death. This certificate is issued by the Division of Vital Statistics at a cost of $27.00 each and are generally available from our office 1 to 2 days after the funeral arrangements are completed. If you require additional copies please contact us.
Probate refers to the legal procedure that obtains the courts approval to officially recognize the WILL as the "Last Will and Testament" of the deceased. It also approves the executor as the legal representative of the estate. It is advisable to seek legal advice to determine whether probate is necessary.
Company & Union Benefits:
Some companies and unions have death benefits available. Please check with the company or union.
All vehicles not in joint tenancy owned by the deceased should be transferred into the "Estate of the Deceased" as soon as possible following the death. This is done by taking a copy of the will, vehicle registration papers and a death certificate to your nearest Autoplan agent. The vehicle may lose it's coverage if this is not done.
I.C.B.C. has "No Fault Accident Benefits" (currently $2,500) available for the estate and surviving family members when a death occurs as a result of a vehicle accident contact Dial-A-Claim at 1-800-663-3051.
B.C. Drivers License:
B.C. Drivers licenses are to be returned to your local Motor Vehicle Branch. You will also need to take an original copy of the death certificate with you. For more information call 604-660-1010.
Canada Pension Plan:
To be eligible for the Canada Pension Plan benefits the deceased must have contributed to the plan for a minimum of three years and 1/3 of the number of years in the deceased contributory period. All benefit amounts listed below are maximum amounts. They may be pro rated depending on the amount the individual contributed to the plan:
Death Benefit: The maximum benefit since 1998 is $2,500. If the deceased was receiving a monthly pension, multiply the amount by six. This formulate estimates the amount the deceased estate will receive.
Spouse's Benefit: The amount of a surviving spouse's pension is related to the amount of the deceased contributor's calculated retirement pension and the age of the surviving spouse at the time of the contributor's death.
Orphan's Benefit: The Orphan's Benefit is a flat rate monthly amount of $169.80 (1998 rate). The child is eligible to receive the benefit until the age of 25 years or 18 if the child is no longer in full attendance at school or university.
The following documents are required when applying for these benefits:
Contributor's Social Insurance Number
Birth or Baptismal Certificate
Marriage Certificate or a Statutory Declaration of Common-Law Relationship.
If the contributor was already receiving Canada Pension Plan retirement or disability benefits, only the death certificate is required. For further information or to make an appointment contact the Income Security Program office at 1-800-277-9914.
Contact your local insurance agent for information on claims. A copy of the death certificate is usually required.
Banks require the original death certificate to begin processing accounts. They will photocopy the original certificate and return it to you.
It is always advisable to seek legal advice. Many lawyers offer 15-20 minute consultations at a nominal cost. Be sure to ask for this at the time you make an appointment.