Last Wills and Testaments
Want to make a Last Will and Testament, but not sure where to start? What is a Last Will and... View Article
Power of Attorney
Want to make sure someone can help you deal with your finances and legal affairs if you get sick? You... View Article
Want to make sure someone protects your health and personal care wishes if you get sick? A Representation Agreement does... View Article
Worried about leaving money outright to one of your beneficiaries? A trust might help. What is a trust? A trust... View Article
Do you have specific cultural or religious beliefs about health care that you want to make sure are honoured? Do... View Article
If you have been asked to help someone as an Attorney under a Power of Attorney, a Representative under a... View Article
Planning for your death or incapacity is the best gift you can give your loved ones. Trying to figure out what to do with a loved one’s estate while dealing with grief from their loss or making decisions for a person who has just lost capacity is the hardest thing a family member has to do.
We can help you organize your affairs so that when the time comes, your wishes are clearly known and your people can carry out those wishes properly.
- Wills detail what you want done with the property you have at the time of your death. Having a will ensures that the property goes to the person you want it to go to.
- Powers of Attorney allow another person to make financial decisions on your behalf while you are alive.
- Representation Agreements generally deal with health and personal care while you are alive, however they can also grant some limited financial responsibilities.
- Advance Directives set out specific wishes you may have for healthcare. These are most helpful for people with very specific religious or cultural beliefs about healthcare, they provide specific instructions to any healthcare provider about how to manage your healthcare needs. These documents only deal with healthcare and do not address personal care issues or financial issues.
- Trusts are valuable in a situation where you want to leave money to a beneficiary but you don’t want them to get all of the money immediately. Trusts are administered by an independent third party who will ensure that the terms of the trust are carried out. Trusts can be created while you are still alive or in your will. This is a complicated area of planning and requires the assistance of a lawyer.
What is estate planning?
Estate planning is organizing yourself and your affairs, and documenting your intentions, so that your wishes are made known, and your people can properly help carry those wishes out.
What documents do I need?
- Powers of Attorney
- Representation Agreements
- Advance Directives
Do I need to do estate planning?
It depends on how smoothly you want things to go for you and your family.
Did you know that your spouse, children or other family members don’t have an automatic right to sign for you, or to arrange your affairs if you become sick?
Without proper planning, you may find yourself in a situation where your assets are frozen and your family is unable to help unless they go off to court to have you declared incapable. That’s not really something you want to put yourself or your family through.
But my family knows what I want – isn’t that enough?
No. It’s not.
It’s not possible to tell from the outside who the “right” people in your family are. So you have to appoint them. Even if it seems obvious who those people should be to you.
Here’s a simple example:
You might think your spouse should be able to speak for you. Seems reasonable, right? If you have been married for a long time, your spouse probably knows exactly what you want.
But what happens when your spouse is experiencing mental or physical difficulties right along with you, and therefore isn’t able to speak for you, or make great decisions?
What happens when you’re on your third or fourth spouse whom your kids from a previous relationship absolutely hate?
What happens when you’re not actually married, but someone shows up and says they’re your common-law spouse?
What happens when you’re separated from your spouse, but not yet divorced?
Sadly, because families change over time, the only way we can tell who should be looking after you and speaking for you is because you have appointed them in the appropriate way.
Can I do this myself?
There are resources available for you to use if you choose to make your estate planning documents yourself.
However, if you don’t use the right documents, or you fill them out incorrectly, then the documents could be invalid, or confusing.
Our job isn’t just filling out forms, though. It’s to make sure you understand how these documents work together, and you know what they do, and don’t do.
It’s ensuring that we help you make these appointments in a way that matches your legal capacity. It’s making sure you aren’t being talked into doing something you didn’t want to do. It’s making sure there are no “suspicious circumstances” surrounding your estate plan.