At Kahn Zack Ehrlich Lithwick LLP, we have been asked many times to prepare wills or trusts for clients who do not have children or heirs. These clients are often surrounded by a circle of loving friends and professional consultants who they can rely upon, and there are other options to consider.

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There are two issues generally that need to be discussed at the outset (and these issues apply whether or not a client has children or heirs):

The first is: who do you wish to appoint as your executors and trustees?

The second is: to whom do you wish to leave your estate assets?

Usually, a spouse, child or sibling is appointed as executor and trustee and named as a beneficiary in a will or trust. Clients without families often speak about friends in their lives who are “just like family”. These friends are trusted and often chosen to act as executors and trustees and named as beneficiaries. The fact that they are unrelated by blood is irrelevant. Often lawyers, accountants, business advisors, and trust companies are named as executors and trustees in the absence of family members.

In addition, there is a long list of charities in our community that would greatly benefit from a bequest in a will or trust.   Here are some of the categories:

  • Animals
  • Arts and Culture
  • Environment
  • Education
  • Health
  • Human Services
  • International
  • Political
  • Public Benefit
  • Religious
  • Political

If a client is interested in including a charitable bequest in a will or trust, we recommend that he contact and meet with the charity to see if there is a specific fund to which the bequest can be directed. In the past, clients have set up scholarships at the University of British Columbia for students who show academic prowess but are financially challenged. Others have established funds at BC Children's Hospital to supply games for children undergoing chemotherapy. One donated at the Food Bank with special provisions at Christmas so that families in need receive warm parkas and shelter to shield them from the weather in December.

The process of investigating charities that will benefit society and its people is a rewarding one.   And our clients feel like their bequests in wills and trusts will make a difference in the lives of many. What could be a better sentiment when making an estate plan?

Finally, in some circumstances, clients may be estranged from their families and wish to exclude them from their wills or trusts. While these circumstances are incredibly sad, it is very important that the exclusions are properly documented to be effective. Once again, any of our experienced estate planning lawyers can assist in this regard. Contact us for an appointment at (604) 270-9571 or send us a message.

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