Estate & Personal Planning
After drafting over one thousand estate planning documents as a Paralegal, I have seen too many times how heartbreaking, stressful, and overwhelming it can be when there is no proper estate plan in place. Although most people think about Wills when someone talks about estate planning, only a comprehensive estate and personal plan can cover most of the bases for future unfortunate events and can save you money, taxes, and relationships.
Since the motto “one shoe fits all” is not true, before we prepare your Will, we take our time to understand your personality, finances, and family relationships, which ultimately helps us to craft a customized estate plan for you and your family. Your Will is only one piece of the puzzle that we put together for creating a careful estate plan. However, with the new legislation (Wills, Estates and Succession Act) which came into effect on March 31, 2014, the need to have your Will drafted or reviewed is indisputable. Have you had yours?
Powers of Attorney
With the extensive development of medical technology in the 21st century, the need for a comprehensive personal and estate plan and additional legal documents (i.e. Powers of Attorney, Representation Agreements, Advance Directives) has increased.
A Power of Attorney is a document that allows a capable adult to appoint one or several Attorneys to act on their behalf and handle their financial and legal affairs. A Power of Attorney can be general (that allows the Attorney to do anything the adult would lawfully be able to do) or special (which allows the Attorney to make only some financial or/and legal decisions, which are specified in the document).
An Enduring Power of Attorney is a document that remains valid even after the adult becomes incapable. Without an Enduring Power of Attorney, an adult that becomes incapable can only have a Committee appointment by the BC Supreme Court through a lengthy and expensive process.
You would be surprised how much frustration and stress it can generate for families when they find out that, for a relatively small amount of money, their relative could have avoided the Committeeship process and would have saved thousands of dollars.
Representation Agreement is a tool that allows a capable adult to appoint a representative to make health and personal care decisions for you. There are two types of Representation Agreements. While Enhanced Representation Agreements (s.9) cover extended health and personal care decisions (including the end-of-life decisions), the 2011 amendments to the Representation Agreement Act has set some limits so they cannot be used for financial matters. On the other hand, Standard Representation Agreements (s.7) can be used for routine financial decisions as well as for health care decisions; however, they have a very limited scope of application.
Advanced Health Directives
Advance Directive is fairly new legal document, being established in British Columbia as of September 1, 2011. This document includes written instructions giving or refusing consent to specific medical interventions should you become incapable of giving consent. However, an Advance Directive does not appoint a person to act on your behalf.
When making a Will, choosing your executor is a very important decision. A good candidate would be a person who is trustworthy, ethical, organized, and a good mediator. While some people choose a family member as their executor, an independent executor can often avoid or resolve conflicts among siblings or disappointed relatives. Therefore, choosing an independent professional such as a notary, accountant or a trust company, could be the best solution.