Understanding Estate Planning
A comprehensive estate plan includes having a valid will in place, a power of attorney and a representation agreement / personal directive. These three documents are created to assist you and ultimately ensure your assets are in good hands.
If you are married, have young children, own a business, or have property, it is important to have a will. Having a will means your chosen beneficiaries will receive the benefit of your estate. If you do not have a will in place, you are considered to die intestate, meaning the government dictates how your property is distributed.
Power of Attorney
An enduring power of attorney is an important legal tool that allows you to designate someone—known as an 'attorney'—to make decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so yourself, typically due to mental incapacity. The focus of a power of attorney is primarily on your financial and legal affairs as you appoint them the authority you would have, allowing them to manage a wide range of financial responsibilities such as bank transactions, bill payments, asset management, and other legal obligations.
One of the standout features of a power of attorney is its flexibility in scope and activation. You have the discretion to specify when this authority comes into play—either instantly upon the legal document's completion or deferred until a point when you may be incapacitated and unable to make decisions yourself.
An enduring power of attorney will take effect as soon as you sign the document with an officer of the court and will remain in effect throughout your lifetime regardless of a mental incapacity, unless revoked effectively.
A springing power of attorney will only “spring” into effect when two doctors provide a note outlining your incapacity. This means it will only ever be effect in the event of a mental incapacity.
As a power of attorney is not set in stone, you retain the right to revoke or amend it at any time, provided you are mentally competent to do so. A change of circumstances, a separation or a new marriage may give rise to the need for an update. However, to ensure that any changes are legally sound, we strongly recommend consulting with a legal professional.
Medical Decisions and Personal Care
A representation agreement/personal directive appoints someone to assist with your medical decisions and personal care matters if you become incapable of doing so yourself. You are able to authorize your representative to act based on the specific health care instructions you have put into place.
Keeping Your Estate Plan Updated
It is important not to let your estate planning documents collect dust. Creating an estate plan is one step and ensuring your estate plan is current and up to date is another step. Significant life changes, death of a beneficiary, marriage or divorce, and even a change of heart could give rise to the need for an updated estate plan.
Legal Implications and Challenges
Under the Wills Estates and Succession Act, a will can be challenged and contested. The laws and regulations vary depending on the province or territory. However, in most cases, there are legislative provisions that allow for a will to be challenged or contested. Therefore, it is important to seek a lawyer’s advice and expertise when preparing your estate plan.
Our Approach and Pricing Structure
At Crossroads Law, we provide flat rates for many of our estate planning services. Our flat rate for an individual will, including power of attorney and personal directive is $1,099. Our experience allows you to have peace of mind. We offer flat rate pricing which consists of a comprehensive estate plan meeting to discuss the best way to structure your estate, the drafting of your estate plan documents and the execution of those documents.
For a FREE initial consultation on estate planning, please reach out to us.
The executor of a will is responsible for managing the estate, ensuring the deceased's wishes are followed, and protecting beneficiaries' interests. Their duties include initiating probate, managing estate assets, and complying with legal requirements.
An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) allows you to appoint someone to manage your financial and legal affairs if you become incapacitated. Its key features include defining the scope of the attorney's authority, deciding when the EPA becomes active, and the ability to revoke or amend it.
If someone in Canada dies without a will (intestate), their estate is distributed according to provincial or territorial laws. An administrator, appointed by the court, manages the estate. The court prioritizes appointing a surviving spouse or common-law partner, adult children, other close relatives, or creditors as administrators.
Updating your Last Will and Testament is vital when significant life events occur, such as buying property, clearing debt, acquiring new assets, receiving an inheritance, changes in marital status, having children, or starting/closing a business. Regular reviews ensure your will accurately reflects your current wishes and circumstances.
Frequently Asked Questions
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Estate Planning Legal Resources
What’s the Difference Between a Will, Power of Attorney and a Personal Directive and Why Do I Need Them?
Everyone knows that having a will is an important part of planning for your future but what about a power of attorney or personal directive?