Updated: Dec 15, 2021
EstateBox is proud to have been a sponsor of the 2021 BC Estates Forum, with Hammerco Lawyers returning as the forum’s founding partner with ADB Insights. Over the span of two afternoons and eight sessions there was a wealth of information shared by industry leading experts, including Andrew Bowyer and Sharon Hartung. The forum focused on the key contexts, drivers, challenges and opportunities for professional advisors in the province’s estate planning ecosystem, much of what was shared also applies outside of BC. While the panelists discussed a variety of estate planning topics, it's no surprise that the pandemic and estate planning in the digital age were the hot topics of both days.
Here’s just a few of our favourite words of wisdom from the incredibly insightful panelists.
Wills, Estates and Succession Act
Morgyn Chandler and Krista Simon kicked off the day talking all about WESA (Wills, Estates and Succession Act in BC). WESA covers the preparation of wills, who can make a will, the effect of a will and what constitutes a valid will. It gives the court the ability to recognize a document as a valid will, even in situations where the formal requirements are not met.
It also allows judges to rebalance a will if it doesn’t provide adequate and just provisions for a spouse or child. This could be a spouse who was removed entirely from a will or a child treated unfairly compared to other siblings.
Estate Planning During COVID-19
Jennifer Hodgson, Stephanie Woo, Nicola Collins, Kevin Parton with chair James Fraser had some great insights on collaborative estate planning in action. Throughout their discussion it was clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. It forced people to contemplate their estate and ensure their affairs are in order.
COVID also shifted everything online which has made it easier for different advisors and professionals to collaborate. Instead of trying to coordinate multiple busy schedules and travel to an office, professionals can easily jump on a Zoom call.
Estate Planning + Innovation
Ari Brodje, Erin Bury, Jessie Vaid with chair Laurent Munier discussed innovation within the estate planning industry.
Cryptocurrency creates new challenges as there’s no central regulator like there are with banks. This could cause a lot of lost digital assets and wealth.
Estate Planning + Technology
Sharon Hartung, author of Your Digital Undertaker and Digital Executor®,
talked all about #EstateTech, including the importance of getting comfortable with technology, learning to protect yourself online and not being afraid to ask lots of questions.
She also touched on how while we are still in the awareness phase of digital assets we can no longer ignore them in estate planning.
Estate Planning for Vulnerable Individuals
Athenea O'Bryan, Sybil Verch, Anthony Eden, Kim Gale and chair Andrew Bowyer discussed protecting vulnerable individuals and their estates. Knowing your clients well is more important than you may realize. Financial advisors are in a great position to spot and stop elder abuse.
A red flag can be something as simple as a change in behaviour like a client who had low risk investments suddenly wanting high risk.
In some cases, technology has made it easier for financial abuse to occur. Taking instructions online can have risks as it’s sometimes impossible to know for sure an email or DocuSign came from the client.
Estate Planning Has Gone Digital
Sree Chintala, Azool Jaffer-Jeraj, Tyler Nyvall, Sara Adami-Johnson and chair Andrew Bowyer talked about estate planning in the digital age. The panel touched on how COVID-19 has highlighted the need for electronic wills and emphasized how our digital footprint is only going to keep growing.
The pandemic and the public health restrictions that came with it, made it impossible in many cases for lawyers to sit down with clients and update or create wills. This was especially challenging for clients who live in personal care homes.
Thank you again to all the panelists, chairs, ADB Insights, and Hammerco Lawyers for an illuminating two days! We hope to see everyone in person at the 2022 BC Estates Forum. If you missed out on the live event but want to hear more from the panelists, you can access the forum on-demand here.
While we’re passionate about all things estate planning, we’re not professionals. We recommend speaking with your lawyer or financial advisor when putting together an estate plan.