Posts in Civil law
Have You Made a Will?

If you haven’t made a will, you’re not alone. According to a Global News Morning BC report, only one third of parents in BC with children under 18 have a legal will. If you have children, do you know who’s going to look after them if you and your spouse die? This week (April 8 to 14) is BC’s annual Make a Will Week — perhaps it’ll inspire you to write or update your will.

Why make a will?

Without a will, your money and personal possessions might not be distributed as you’d like, and your children’s future may be decided by government agencies. Making a will can give you peace of mind. You’ll know who gets your assets, no matter how modest, and who’s going to look after and raise your children.

How do I make a will?

MyLawBC can help you make a simple will online that reflects your wishes and fits your situation. MyLawBC, which is free to use, guides you through its Make a will pathway where you’ll learn about the important decisions you need to consider.  At the end, you’ll get an easy-to-use form in Microsoft Word to complete, print, and sign.

Before you start, the Check your situation link in the sidebar will show you whether you can use MyLawBC for your will. If your situation is complicated, MyLawBC can’t provide a will. But you’ll still get basic information about what you need in your will, and where you can get help.

If you have a complicated situation, or can afford legal help, getting help from a lawyer or a notary is a good idea.

More information

You can find out more about making your will with MyLawBC in this video. And in addition to MyLawBC, the Make a Will Week website has links to many useful resources.

Civil lawLegal Aidwills
You don’t need a tractor to have a will

On June 8, 1948, Cecil George Harris lay dying in a field, pinned under a tractor. While help eventually came, he spent nearly 10 hours under that tractor and died in hospital the next day. When Harris left the house that morning, he didn’t have a will, but he soon feared he’d need one. While trapped, he dug out his pen knife and scratched a message into the fender of his tractor:  

In case I die in this mess I leave all to the wife. Cecil Geo Harris

A few days after his death, this message was found. The fender was removed and the court followed through with his impromptu will. You can still see the fender on display at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Law.

Wills written this way are called holographic, or handwritten, wills. They’re not valid in BC (with a few exceptions). That isn’t to say that there isn’t an easy way to write a will in BC.

MyLawBC is our newest website and one of things it does is offers a quick and easy way for you to write a will. Since it was launched earlier this year, almost 2,000 people have used MyLawBC to help write their wills.

The first thing you need to do is to go through the Make a will pathway. This is where the site asks you a series of questions about your situation. It then uses your answers to figure out how it can help you.

If you need a simple will — that’s a basic will that avoids situations like owning a business or property outside of BC — then you’ll be given a Word form template. As you fill out the form, it populates a will with the information you put in. Once you’re done, you’ll have a will that contains all the necessary legal language. All that’s left to do is for you to sign it.

MyLawBC is free to use, so there’s no excuse to wait until you’re under a tractor and absolutely need a will to write one.

Planning for the future

Having a will is important. We all know it, but many of us don’t have a will. Planning for your own death is uncomfortable; no one likes to think about dying. Despite that, having a will and planning for your future is important. MyLawBC has two different pathways to help you with these decisions. The Make a will pathway helps you create a simple will. It explains the decisions you need to make and what you need to consider for those decisions. Depending on your situation, MyLawBC can also provide you with a form you can fill in to create a valid will. Even if MyLawBC can’t provide a will to fit your needs, it gives you information about what to put in your will and how to get help to complete one.

The Plan for the future pathway covers personal planning. This means planning for a future where you might not be able to act independently; for example, if you got into an accident and fell into a coma. You’ll learn about all the available documents and find out which ones are best for you. This includes the various kinds of powers of attorney and representation agreements. We worked with Nidus on this pathway to make sure you get the best information.

Getting help with foreclosure

The idea of losing your house is scary enough without having to consider the legal process that you’ll need to navigate. Finding information about foreclosure can also be difficult. MyLawBC’s foreclosure pathway is designed to address these issues. It helps people going through the foreclosure process or those who are worried that they might have to.

As you answer questions about your situation, MyLawBC determines what information you need to help you keep your home. You get practical information on how to prevent foreclosure and where to find financial and legal help. At the end of the pathway, you’ll get an action plan that tells you what your options are to keep your house and what steps you need to take. Your plan also includes other resources such as tips, checklists, and sample letters.

If you decide to go to court, MyLawBC gives you an overview of the court process, information on how to prepare for court, and links to sample court documents.

Hot Off the Press — Can’t Pay Your Mortgage? What you can do if you’re facing foreclosure

We’ve made minor revisions to the booklet Can’t Pay Your Mortgage? It explains the legal process of foreclosure for home owners. A colourful flow chart visually shows your two options when facing foreclosure — solve the problem without going to court or follow the steps of the court process.

The next sections describe both options in detail. Information for condo owners and tenants facing foreclosure is also provided.

The last section includes links to court forms to fill out, a step-by-step guide to help you prepare an affidavit, and where to find legal help.

Can’t Pay Your Mortgage? is available online only.

The previous January 2015 edition is still legally accurate.

The French version doesn't include the most recent minor changes and updates that appear in the English version.

Hot Off the Press: Can’t Pay Your Mortgage? What you can do if you’re facing foreclosure

We’ve revised the booklet Can’t Pay Your Mortgage? and redesigned it as an interactive online-only PDF. The new edition:

  • explains the legal process of foreclosure for home owners in an easy-to-navigate format;
  • includes a colourful flow chart that visually shows your two options when facing foreclosure — solve the problem without going to court or follow the steps of the court process;
  • describes both options in detail in the next sections (includes information for condominium owners and tenants facing foreclosure); and
  • concludes with live links to court forms, a step-by-step guide to prepare an affidavit, and links to find legal help.

Can’t Pay Your Mortgage? is also available in a black-and-white print-friendly version.

The new PDF replaces the previous printed 2012 edition, which is still legally accurate.