Vancouver Mandarin Chinese Estate Planning Lawyer

Vancouver Mandarin Chinese Estate Planning Lawyer

Vancouver Mandarin Chinese Estate Planning Lawyer Featured Image

First and second generation Chinese immigrants to British Columbia typically face many estate planning challenges. Our office is not only well versed in these challenges, but we are well-equipped to help you navigate them.

When you work with Chinese Lawyer Vancouver you’ll work with a lawyer who is fluent in both English and Mandarin. This means you’ll be able to do your estate planning in the language you’re most comfortable working in, and can feel confident that you’ll understand all the legal advice you are receiving. 

We can help you plan both for the day that you will no longer be with your family and against a day where you might not be capable of managing your own affairs. Both are an important part of the estate planning process, and ensure, within the boundaries of the law, that your wealth, health, and assets are managed in a way that will be pleasing to you.

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is the art of using multiple legal vehicles to help determine what will happen to your assets when you die. It is also the art of planning for your incapacitation and how your care may be managed as you get older, including both medical care and financial care.

Estate Planning Lawyers for Chinese Families

Chinese families must understand the Wills, Estates, and Succession Act of British Columbia before attempting to make plans. Primarily, it is important to understand that both the spouse and all children regardless of gender have rights in regards to an estate. A willmaker must make “adequate provision” for these individuals, and it is very difficult to disinherit them. 

If any of these individuals feels adequate provisions have not been made then they can challenge the will under BC law.

In addition, guardianship planning can get very complex if you need to factor immigration law into your plans, or child custody law. For example, who will take care of your minor children in the event of your death? Many families want the grandparents back in China to do the job, but Canadian courts won’t necessarily feel this is in the best interests of the children.

There is also the matter of planning for your own long-term care as you age. Few Chinese parents wish to end up in nursing homes. Without proper estate planning, however, this is exactly what can happen. 

Our firm will use our multidisciplinary knowledge to help you create the will that will help you protect your rights. We can also help you create trusts, manage living gifts, put together power of lawyer documents, and advise you on insurance policies you should purchase or other steps you should take to make sure that your affairs are managed appropriately. 

Estate Planning Lawyers for Chinese Business Owners

When you are a business owner your family isn’t the only thing you have to worry about after your death. You also have to worry about whether your company will survive. 

Fortunately we are more than adept at helping our clients put together workable succession plans that will help ensure their business stays strong, protecting your partners and shareholders, as well as the business’ ability to continue generating wealth for heirs who may continue to benefit from it.

We are aware that international laws may impact this succession planning. We have extensive experience in this area of the law, as well as in business law, customs law, and trade law. This breadth of experience will serve your business and your family well.

FAQ

What Makes a Will Invalid in British Columbia?

A will must be made by someone who has the ability to make a will: that is, they are at least 16 years old, and are sound enough of mind to understand what they are doing and to manage their own affairs. The will must be in writing, properly signed at the end, and properly witnessed.

In addition, the will must make adequate provisions for your spouse and your children. If you do not, they have the full legal right to challenge your will after you die. 

Adequate provision can vary a great deal depending on the worth of your assets, the needs of your family members, and more. 

Can You Leave a Child Out of Your Will in British Columbia?

Many Chinese patriarchs wish to disinherit daughters as is traditional in China. Yet this 

is not legal in British Columbia. 

It is possible to disinherit a child or spouse, but you must have a reason that the courts will accept. For example, if your child has gone to prison and you wish to disinherit them for their criminal behavior then the courts are likely to honor this wish. If your child terminated a relationship with you of their own free will then they might consider this reason as well.

They will not allow you to discriminate against your children on the basis of their gender, or for actions that were not their fault. For example, courts recently ruled that one Chinese patriarch’s will was invalid. He had disinherited his daughters because he had lost a custody dispute over them years prior, and had chosen, while they were still minors, to terminate contact with them. The courts granted each daughter 35% of the estate, even though he had left 100% of his estate to two friends. His friends got 30% of the estate, split between them. 

What Happens When You Die without a Will in British Columbia?

Because talking about death and dying is taboo in China many Chinese families who come to British Columbia do not engage in proper estate planning. Yet this can be a huge mistake.

When you die without a will in British Columbia it is called dying “intestate.” This means that a judge will distribute your estate in accordance with British Columbia Law. The court will appoint an administrator because you will not have appointed an executor. 

Your assets will be divided equally among your spouse and children. For some this is not much of a problem, yet your family will waste time and money trying to claim the estate, and the estate may not be as valuable. Certain vehicles, like trusts and joint ownership, can make inheritances easier.

If you do want to include a friend or distant relative in your estate, you must have a will. It is perfectly legal to do so, so long as you make adequate provision for your spouse and children. If you want to donate to a charity you will also need to engage in the estate planning process. If you have assets in excess of $100,000 it is a good idea to create a will.

What Happens When Someone Contests a Will in British Columbia?

Once the will enters probate it is open to challenge from those who have a legal right to do so. This is usually either a beneficiary or potential beneficiary of the will. The will’s executor will defend the will from challenge, not because it is personal, but because this is one of the executor’s duties. 

The court will examine the will, the evidence, and consider the evidence in light of the law. There are several decisions the court might make. 

One is to uphold the will as written.

One is to revert to an earlier version of the will. This usually happens when modifications were made at a time the judge deems that the willmaker was not of sound mind or judgment, or that they were laboring under undue influence.

Judges may also choose to make a variation on the will. That is, most of the will gets honored, but the judge makes adjustment to bring the will in line with British Columbia law. This most often happens when the willmaker has failed to make adequate provision for spouses or children. The judge can, for example, adjust the percentage of the estate that goes to each beneficiary.

The final option is to declare the will invalid and to administer the estate just as if the willmaker had died without one. This is one reason why it is so important to do your estate planning with a help of a lawyer who understands all the issues that might arise. If your will isn’t upheld in court, you’ve wasted a lot of time and money only to get the same outcome you would have gotten had you done nothing at all. 

Those who wish  to challenge a will have but six months to act once the will is in probate.

Why Choose Us?

We understand how to handle complex estate matters, even if your finances are deeply intertwined across China, Hong Kong, Canada, or all three. We can help you navigate the web of international laws regulating your wealth so that we can protect you and your family from undue taxation, stock asset restrictions, asset freezes, and other issues which could cause your family to have trouble accessing your wealth after your death. 

Chinese Lawyer Vancouver serves clients in Vancouver, Abbotsford, Langley, Surrey, and White Rock. Call to set up an appointment today.

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Please note: The information provided on this website is Not Legal Advice. The information may or may not be accurate. The information is for discussion purposes only. Reliance upon any information provided would not be grounds to advance a claim against Chinese Lawyer Vancouver for providing any advice. In order to get a formal legal opinion upon which you may rely about any specific fact scenario, you would have to first retain the services of a lawyer and request a formal legal opinion.