The Basics of Legacy and Bequest for Heirs: Understanding Your Rights and Responsibilities
When it comes to inheritance and bequests, it is important for heirs to understand their rights and responsibilities in Canada. This is especially true if you are the primary beneficiary of an estate or if you are responsible for distributing the assets of a deceased loved one.
First, it is important to understand the difference between a legacy and a bequest. A legacy is a gift of personal property, such as jewelry or artwork, given to a beneficiary in a will. A bequest is a gift of real property, such as a house or land, given to a beneficiary in a will.
In Canada, wills must be in writing and signed by the person making the will, also known as the testator. The will must also be witnessed by at least two individuals who are not beneficiaries of the will. If the will is not properly executed, it may be challenged in court and deemed invalid.
As an heir, you have the right to receive your inheritance as specified in the will. However, you also have a responsibility to manage your inheritance wisely and to pay any debts or taxes that may be owed on the assets.
It is important to note that not all assets are distributed through a will. Some assets, such as joint bank accounts and life insurance policies, pass directly to the named beneficiary without going through probate (the legal process of administering a deceased person's estate). It is important to review all of your loved one's financial and legal documents to determine how their assets will be distributed.
If you are the executor of an estate, you have the legal responsibility to distribute the assets of the deceased according to the terms of the will. This includes paying any outstanding debts and taxes, as well as distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. It is important to seek the advice of a lawyer or financial advisor to ensure that the estate is properly administered.
Inheritance and bequests can be complex, but understanding your rights and responsibilities as an heir or executor can help to ensure that the process goes smoothly. It is important to seek the advice of a lawyer or financial advisor if you have any questions or concerns about your inheritance or the distribution of a loved one's assets.