Now that 2017 is coming to a close, it is a good idea to take stock of what was accomplished in the past year and what still needs to be done. For many of us, a financial review of our assets and debts, or a review of our insurance policies, is often embarked upon. However, what is often overlooked is the concept of testamentary planning – planning for one’s own eventual demise and potential future incapacity.
Having a legally valid Will prepared by an experienced lawyer addresses some or all of the following:
- appointing an Executor to deal with your affairs after your passing and file your terminal tax return, as well as any outstanding tax returns;
- appointing a Guardian to take over the care of your children, if you pass away while they are still under the age of majority;
- your instructions on how your want your personal effects dealt with after your passing;
- whether you would like to leave any specific bequests of money to your family members, friends, and/or charities;
- how you would like to distribute the residue of your estate – all to one person, or divided amongst different people, and in what proportions?
- what your anti-lapse instructions are: who should be appointed if your first named Executor and Guardian predecease you, become incapacitated, or renounce the right to act? Who should receive a specific bequest or a portion of the residue of your estate if a named beneficiary predeceases you?
- are there any debts owed to you that you would want to see collected by your Executor?
- there are any advancements on a person’s inheritance that need to be taken into consideration?
- whether you have any specific wishes concerning the disposition of your remains.
An Enduring Power of Attorney and a Personal Directive address the potential that we could become incapacitated one day, whether due to a disease (such as dementia), an illness or an injury. Just like a Will, an Enduring Power of Attorney and a Personal Directive must be signed by you while you still have the capacity to do so.
An Enduring Power of Attorney addresses some or all of the following:
- appointing an Attorney to make your financial decisions for you, if you are declared to be incapacitated in the future;
- directing what powers your Attorney has to deal with your finances and your assets;
- directing what types of investment powers your Attorney would have;
- stating whether your Attorney is entitled to receive compensation for his or her time and effort.
A Personal Directive addresses some or all of the following:
- appointing an Agent to make your personal and health care decisions for you, if you are declared to be incapacitated in the future;
- stating what your wishes are with respect to certain end-of-life decisions;
- stating whether you consent to be an organ donor pursuant to the Human Tissue and Organ Donation Act (Alberta).
If you already duly executed a Will, Enduring Power of Attorney and Personal Directive, a good year-end resolution is to review your documents to ensure that the directions and instructions in same still conform to your wishes. If you need revisions or updates, then a call to your lawyer may be in order.