Glossary for Preparing Your Will

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This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Stephen Hsia in January 2019.
Advance directive
Written instructions about what health care a person wants or does not want in the future if a decision needs to be made and they’re incapable of making it.
Anything a person owns that has value. Assets can include things such as money, land, investments, and personal belongings such as jewelry and furniture.
A person who is to receive money or property in a will, benefit plan, or insurance policy.
A legal document made after a will that changes some conditions in the will.
All of the property and belongings a person owns upon their death, with some exceptions. The estate does not include property owned with someone else jointly (such as a joint bank account) or property that has a designated beneficiary (such as an insurance policy).
The person named in a will to carry out the instructions in the will and settle the will-maker’s affairs after they die.
A voluntary transfer of property from one person to another, with no expectation of payment or reward.
Joint tenancy
A way that property can be owned where each owner has the same interest in and an equal right to use the property. Usually, when one joint tenant dies, their share automatically passes to the other joint tenants.
Notary public
A legal professional authorized to provide certain non-contentious legal services to the public. For example, a notary public can prepare wills and powers of attorney, and notarize signatures on documents.
Power of attorney
A legal document that enables an adult to give another person (or more than one person) the authority to make financial and legal decisions for them.
A legal procedure to confirm that a will is valid and can be acted on. It allows financial institutions and others to rely on the will as being the last will made by the deceased.
Public Guardian and Trustee
A public body established by law to protect the interests of British Columbians who lack legal capacity to protect their own interests.
Representation agreement
A legal document to authorize someone to assist an adult or act on their behalf for health and personal care matters. It can also cover routine financial and legal matters.
Whatever is left over in an estate after the executor pays all the debts and expenses and distributes any specific gifts.
Person the will-maker was married to, or lived with in a marriage-like relationship for at least the two years prior to the will-maker’s death.
A way property can be owned where each owner holds a separate and distinct interest in the property. When a tenant-in-common dies, their share of the property is included in their estate.
A form of possession of property in which a person (the trustee) holds property for the benefit of another person (the beneficiary).
A legal document that gives instructions about who should receive the property of the will-maker after they die, and on what conditions.
A person who prepares and signs a will.

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