What is Estate Planning?
When most people hear about Estate Planning, they think that it means getting a Will done. However, Estate Planning involves more than just a Will. A proper and prudent Estate Planning requires three documents to be drafted. These documents are: Will, Enduring Power of Attorney and a Personal Directive.
We will discuss a brief summary of each of these documents today and why they are important for Estate Planning.
A Will is a legal document that allows you to give their instructions on how your estate (anything of value owned by you at the time of your death) will be divided amongst your beneficiaries, who will be the guardians for your under-aged children (if applicable), who be your estate's executor etc. A Will then only deals with matters after you pass away and has no effect during your lifetime. However, it is an extremely important part of Estate Planning. A well-drafted Will requires all life scenarios to be considered, even those that may not seem likely in your life. For example, if you have a disabled beneficiary, a Will has to contain very specific wording to ensure that his/her benefits, like AISH, are not cancelled due to him/her receiving part of your estate. You should also consider what will happen to your estate if all your named beneficiaries predecease you? These are just some of the things that you have to keep in mind while you are drafting your Will.
For a comprehensive Will, contact your trusted Estate Planning lawyers at Edmonton Wills & Estates Law Office today. Our experienced Estate Planning lawyers will ensure that all eventualities and scenarios, specific to you and your family, are taken into account in your Will.
Enduring Power of Attorney
An Enduring Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows named individuals (Attorneys) to make financial decisions on your (Maker's) behalf. An Enduring Power of Attorney is similar to a general Power of Attorney, but it is called the Enduring Power of Attorney because it stays in force even if you lose mental capacity in future. An Enduring Power of Attorney usually comes into effect in three ways: Once you lose mental capacity, when you sign a written declaration stating that the Enduring Power of Attorney shall come into effect, or the Enduring Power of Attorney contains specific wording that it is to come into effect at the time of signing of the document. Most of the time, the Enduring Power of Attorney does not come into effect until you lose mental capacity. The reason for that is because individuals like to make their own financial decisions and there is usually no need for someone else to make those decisions for them until they lose mental capacity.
Personal Directive (formerly known as the "Living Will")
A Personal Directive is a legal document that allows named individuals (Agents) to make personal decisions on your (Maker's) behalf. Personal decisions include decisions related to your health care, accommodation, where you may work, who you may interact with and any legal matters that do not relate to your estate. Essentially, all non-financial matters are dealt with under a Personal Directive.
In a Personal Directive, you can also give specific instructions on your medical treatment and care. You can include instructions things such as, should medical service providers "Pull the Plug" when you are in a persistent vegetative state and there are no hopes of ever regaining consciousness no matter what is done? Situations like these can be hard for family members, so giving instructions in a Personal Directive on the matter can relieve your loved ones from making those tough decisions themselves. You can also include instructions like "Do not resuscitate" in a Personal Directive.
Both Enduring Power of Attorney and Personal Directive deal with your matters while you are still alive but are mentally incapable of making your own decisions. Drafting these two documents will allow you to choose trusted individuals that will be best suited to make decisions on your behalf. Not having an Enduring Power of Attorney or a Personal Directive may result in your family members needing to apply for your Guardianship and Trusteeship from the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta before they can make decisions on your behalf. In Guardianship and Trusteeship applications, there might be disagreement amongst your family members on who shall be the Guardian and Trustee, resulting in conflicts. So, having an Enduring Power of Attorney and a Personal Directive in place will spare your loved ones from unnecessary stress, financial hardship, and possible animosity amongst themselves. You would also be able to choose the best-suited family member to take care of your affairs in case you lose mental capacity.
In the end, thorough and prudent Estate Planning involves drafting a valid Will, an Enduring Power of Attorney, and a Personal Directive.
Contact your trusted and experienced Estate Planning lawyers at the Edmonton Wills & Estates Law Office today to get started on your Estate Planning. Our Estate Planning lawyers are always happy and ready to answer all your questions regarding Estate Planning.