October 13, 2021
The first week of October was Make-A-Will week. This story shows how People's Law School and Legal Aid BC can help British Columbians deal with everyday legal problems, from settling an estate with no will to preparing a will of your own.
Dealing with the death of a loved one
It was a hard time for Allen. He’d just finished clearing out his late mother’s house. It brought back some good memories, but also reinforced how his family was still struggling to deal with mom’s estate. Turns out she had some debts that nobody knew about. Plus, Allen’s sister was grumbling about how she deserved more than an equal share given how she took care of mom down the stretch. Worst of all, though, mom had no will, and for the last year it kept things at a complete standstill.
Late one night, an overwhelmed Allen found himself searching online for information about settling an estate with no will. That’s when he came across the People’s Law School.
Allen had already sifted through a lot of websites, but this felt different. It was written in plain language and was easy to understand. He felt like he could trust People’s Law, a non-profit featuring information written and vetted by legal professionals.
Mostly, though, it was helpful. People's had step-by-step guides on how to apply for a grant of administration where there was no will, and how to fill out (the seemingly endless!) probate forms. And their video archive of webinars featuring panels of BC lawyers provided relevant insights on points Allen’s family was grappling with.
Allen realized it was time to make a will
The next evening, Allen took another important step. After learning first-hand how hard it is to deal with an estate when there’s no will, he decided to write a will of his own. He didn’t want to just find a will “template,” though. He’d need something customized, something that could guide him through the process.
A link on the People’s Law site sent him to a make a will tool developed by Legal Aid BC that would help Allen prepare a will for free. It asked him questions about his current life situation and how his assets should be managed and distributed after his death. And about ten minutes later he had a simple, but tailored, will.
Allen closed his laptop and took a sip of his now lukewarm tea. He was still exhausted, but he’d sleep easier that night, confident not only in what steps he had to take next to handle his mother’s estate, but also relieved that his children wouldn’t have to deal with so much uncertainty in the future.