by Or Regev
Every once in a while an event in our life prompts us to make a change or address a task we have ignored. The global pandemic, and the chaos and uncertainty it has caused, has been this prompt in many respects.
Unprecedented numbers of people are now considering their personal affairs and assessing whether they have made appropriate plans for the protection of their assets and financial safety of their families. We can help you do the same. There are several personal planning documents and steps you can take to ensure your estate plan is customized to your needs, some of which are summarized below.
A Will is a legal document that appoints an executor to distribute your assets in accordance with your wishes; it can also appoint guardians to care for your minor children in the event of your death. A properly drafted Will is important as it can reduce or eliminate disputes among your family members regarding the distribution of your assets. At Hobbs Giroday we routinely act for clients in these types of disputes and have insight into how these issues arise.
In British Columbia there are strict guidelines regarding signing and witnessing Wills. Under ordinary circumstances, we would suggest meeting at our offices to facilitate signing and witnessing. However, given the evolving situation with COVID-19, our top priority is your health and safety. In this regard, we can suggest various alternative methods to ensure your Will is properly signed and witnessed while respecting social distancing and health measures.
Many people assume creating a Will is the only step you need to take to effectively organize your personal affairs. Creating a valid Will is an essential part of the estate planning process, but it is often advisable to consider tools such as Powers of Attorney and Representation Agreements, which are discussed below in further detail.
2. Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that authorizes a person you choose to act on your behalf regarding your financial affairs. A Power of Attorney can be modified in two important ways to suit your specific needs:
- it can include or exclude authority to handle certain assets. For example, you can authorize your Attorney to handle your banking but prevent them from making decisions related to real estate; and
- the authority in a Power of Attorney can start and end at different times. For example, the document can become effective right away or only when the adult becomes incapable, and the authority can end when the adult becomes incapable or it can continue despite the adult’s incapability.
Having a Power of Attorney can save your family time and money. In the unfortunate circumstance that you lose capacity to make financial decisions and you do not have a Power of Attorney in place, one of your family members may have to apply to the court to be appointed as your committee of estate. This is an expensive, lengthy and often emotional process.
3. Representation Agreement
A Representation Agreement is a legal document that authorizes a person you choose to make personal and health care decisions on your behalf if you have lost the capacity to do so. You can think of a Representation Agreement as the personal and health care equivalent of a Power of Attorney, though they are different in some respects. Having a Representation Agreement in place can help ease the burden on your family when they need to make important decisions about your health and care.
Estate Planning Consultation
If you would like to implement a plan for your personal affairs, or discuss your existing personal planning documents, please contact Hobbs Giroday. You can use the form below to reach us or call (604) 669-6609, toll free: 1 (844) 568-1004.