For those looking to understand what a comprehensive, up-to-date, and legally valid estate plan entails, we’ve prepared a basic list of the documents our estate planning team suggests you consider putting in place sooner rather than later.
A Will is a legal document that provides for the distribution of your assets and the guardianship of your minor children after your death. It can also address your desired funeral, burial, or cremation wishes. It appoints an executor of your choosing to administer your estate. If you die without a Will, you forfeit control over these important decisions, and in most cases, the costs to administer your estate will increase.
To be valid in BC, Wills must meet specific requirements (for example, being signed in front of two witnesses). Although execution rules are currently under review as a result of mandated social distancing, our lawyers have developed strategies to accommodate the needs of each individual client and to ensure that your new Will can be signed safely while still complying with the applicable rules.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives a person of your choosing (your ‘attorney’) the power to deal with your property, finances, and legal affairs while you are alive but unable or unwilling to do so yourself. In the event that you become incapacitated without a valid POA in place, your loved ones may be forced to seek a committeeship order under the Patients Property Act before they can assist you with such things as paying bills, managing investments, or selling real estate on your behalf.
A Representation Agreement is a legal document that gives a person of your choosing (your ‘representative’) the authority to make decisions relating to your health and personal care while you are alive but unable to do so yourself. It can also contain end-of-life instructions to ensure that your wishes are respected when the time comes. In the event that you become incapacitated without a valid RA in place, your health care professionals or the courts may ultimately be called upon to make these important decisions for you.
Trusts are frequently used in the estate planning process, and when in place, allow for a person of your choosing (a ‘trustee’) to administer assets in accordance with the terms of a trust agreement. A trust may be appropriate where real estate or bank accounts are held in joint tenancy to minimize probate fees, when there is a desire for increased privacy, or as a means of limiting the chance of litigation against an estate. In other cases, your accountant may recommend an Alter Ego Trust. Whatever your circumstances, trusts are an additional planning tool you may decide to incorporate into your estate plan.
Whether you are looking to prepare new documents or update those already in place, our dedicated team is here to guide you through the process with advice and a friendly face. Call or email us today to find out more.
This article is intended for information purposes only and should not be taken as the provision of legal advice. Grace C. Cleveland is a lawyer with the law firm of Cleveland Doan LLP and can be reached at (604)536-5002 or firstname.lastname@example.org.