Kristyl Clark is a 38-year-old mother from Langley, B.C. She has two little girls, Molly and Zoey, who are 8 and 10 years old. Kristyl and her husband, Jason, recently decided it was time to put a Will in place in case the unthinkable happens. The couple spoke with Alisyn to discuss setting their Will in place. The following transcript is their conversation.
Kristyl - Why is it so important that we, as parents, get a Will?
Alisyn - The number one reason to get a Will, as a parent, is for your children. You want to be able to name the chosen legal guardian of your children, especially if they're under 19. Specifically because if you don't name anyone, then any individual in your family can apply to become their guardian. Just think of that one family member who you never would want raising your kids - they could easily apply to raise your children once you’ve passed. That's a significant reason to have a Will as parents.
Alisyn - What made you and your husband decide to get a Will?
Kristyl - That is a good question. It's something that we had been putting off for years, ever since our first child was born. It was tough deciding who would be the caregiver in the unfortunate circumstance that we passed away. We just didn't want to think about it. However, we're getting older and we were planning our second honeymoon (before the Covid pandemic) in Costa Rica. We wanted to have a plan set in place in case, heaven forbid, something was to happen to us. I wanted to be able to rest my head easier at night knowing that we have a plan for our girls.
Alisyn - That is what I hear often - it's about procrastination. Knowing that this should be done, but not having the time or ability, and not knowing who to choose. But when you think about it, your list of people who you trust to take care of your children is not long. There's a couple of names for sure. I tell a lot of parents that you can never be replaced as a parent. So you're not looking for your replacement. You're looking to name someone who's going to do a good job of raising your children.
Kristyl - Yeah. We were also concerned about cost, which was one of the main reasons why we put it off. It's hard enough to be a parent in these times with the cost of housing and living. And just it's one of those things, where it just seems like an extra cost that we weren't ready for.
Kristyl - Can you tell us more about the costs?
Alisyn - We have a few different price structures. Whether you are an individual or a couple, there are different pricing structures. There is another document that people often consider getting done at the same time as their Will, which is a Power of Attorney Representation Agreement. If you choose to do this document as well, you end up getting six documents (three per person). Altogether it comes to less than twelve hundred dollars, which is the most expensive package we offer. Essentially, the reason to have a Will done now is that you never know if you'll need it until it's too late. The legal fees that can be spent when somebody steps up to take care of your estate, can be in the thousands, if not tens of thousands. It’s a simple price to get it done and out of the way and have your peace of mind. This way you know that on the other end of it, your entire estate isn't going to be drained in legal fees.
Kristyl - I know that when we had our will done, we booked grandma to babysit the kids, thinking it would take a few hours and be a long, drawn-out, tedious process. We were in and out within half an hour. We were even able to sneak in dinner and a movie after that.
Kristyl - What are some of the ramifications of not doing a Will?
Alisyn - The main ramification is that without a Will your estate passes through intestate. There is a specific set of laws in B.C. that outline who gets what through intestate. It most likely is not going to be who you wanted. A portion of your estate would go to your spouse if your spouse is still alive and the remaining value would go to your kids. But unfortunately, depending on who's alive at that time and how many individuals are involved, it could end up going to several parties. It's an interesting set of rules that you get no control over when you don't name anyone.
Kristyl - I know for us it really took a long time and it mostly involved deciding between our two sets of parents. Eventually, we realized that our parents are getting older and in 10 years, they're going to be in their 70s. At that point, they may not be as up to it as they think they are.
Kristyl - How do you go about making that difficult choice without offending anybody or making the wrong decision?
Alisyn - It comes down to being your decision. No one has to see your Will until you're gone. What I see most of the time is spouses give everything to each other first. If there are any kids, then everything goes to the kids after that. The one piece that most parents get stuck on is thinking about the catastrophe clause in their instructions of the Will. What most parents haven't thought about is if something happens like a catastrophe and everyone is gone, who gets what? And it's not always an easy answer. A lot of the responses they get are a lot of parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, and sometimes charity. At the end of the day, it's your choice of who you want to get everything after it’s all said and done.
Kristyl - Why would you advise against an online Will?
Alisyn - BC has some very strict rules and laws when it comes to Wills. The Will has to meet so many standards and specifications to become valid. Unfortunately, you won’t know if your Will is valid or not until after you're gone. This leaves the individual you named to deal with an invalid Will while also having to deal with the grief of losing you. That is a very, very difficult position to be in. An online Will might work, but you won't know that for sure until it's too late. If you have your Will done by a lawyer, it should work without any problems. Unfortunately, we have had clients of CBM's, who have passed. When we send their Will through probate, we never have an issue.
Kristyl - Thank you so much, Alisyn. It has been such a pleasure working with you and getting this Will going. As I said before, Jason and I had been putting this off for so long. We were worried about the time it would take and how much money it was going to cost us. However, the process has been so smooth that now we just wish we had done it sooner. So now that we have done it - we feel like it's adulting. We're actual adults. It’s nice to know that the kids are going to be taking care of if something ever were to happen. When we finally do make it on that second honeymoon it is going to be a lot less stressful and a lot less scary. Thank you so much.
Alisyn Killeen is an Associate at CBM Lawyers, who advises clients on Business Law, Estate Litigation, Real Estate Law, Wills, Estates, and Trusts. Read more about Alisyn here.