A Will allows your assets to be distributed after your passing in the precise way you want.
Although “will kits” are now popular, the dangers of an improperly drafted will done without legal advice are numerous. First, unhappy relatives may attack your will after your death for not providing enough for them. Further, any part of your estate that does not pass under your will may be subject to the arbitrary rules of intestate succession. Under these rules, only your closest living relatives will inherit your property. Finally, you may not appreciate how to handle more complex situations like creating a trust for someone you love and want to care for after you are gone.
You may also use this as an opportunity to appoint someone to be the guardian of your child(ren) should something happen to you.
Laschuk Law can discuss options available to you and can draft a will that effectively meets your needs.
A Power of Attorney document is used where you want to have another person (the ‘attorney’) sign documents or act for you when you are unable or unwilling to do so. For instance, it is often used for financial or legal arrangements such as buying/selling assets or signing tax returns.
A Power of Attorney can be limited for a specific purpose and time period (such as authorizing someone to sign documents to sell a house while you are out of town), or it can be general in its scope and authorize a person to do anything that you could do. The Power of Attorney can be revoked at any time.
Enduring Power of Attorney
Traditionally, the authority in a Power of Attorney automatically ends when the person giving it becomes mentally incapable of managing their affairs. However, you can choose to have one of these other forms of Power of Attorney instead:
• “Enduring” Power of Attorney – this POA is effective when the document is signed and will continue (or ‘endure’) despite any subsequent incapacity; or
• “Springing” Power of Attorney – this POA will only come into effect at some point in the future, when the mental capacity is lost.
If you lose capacity without a power of attorney in place, your loved ones may have to apply to court to be appointed your “committee” of estate. This is an expensive and tedious process.
A Power of Attorney is not meant for health care decisions. If you wish to give another person authority over your health, Laschuk Law can assist. See ‘Representation Agreements’, below.
A Representation Agreement allows you to arrange in advance how decisions about your health care or personal care will be made if you become medically incapacitated.
By this document, you appoint a trusted family member or friend to make these decisions for you. The benefits of a representation agreement include:
• You have someone in place to be your ‘health care advocate’
• You may specify your wishes regarding end-of-life decisions
• You have comfort in knowing your wishes will be followed
• You can have the agreement come into effect now or later
• You can avoid costly court proceedings (e.g. for committeeship)
Laschuk Law can set out your options in this area.
(Also known as a ‘Living Will’)
Sometimes, we lose capacity to make important health care decisions for ourselves, either because of aging or because of injury.
An Advance Directive, or ‘living will’, is the document whereby you can predetermine what health care you wish to have, or not have, at a later time when you are unable to give instructions or consent to the health care yourself. If this arrangement appeals to you, then you may benefit from having an Advance Directive drawn up by Laschuk Law.
The benefits of an Advance Directive include:
• Ability to give or refuse consent for any health care in the future
• Ability to address “end-of-life” decisions now
• Ability to refuse specific kinds of treatment or medication
• Less stress for your loved ones when faced with life-altering decisions
There are limits to what an Advance Directive can do. Laschuk Law can help you understand the best way to achieve your goals.
A trust can be used to distribute or manage property either while you are alive (a living or "inter vivos" trust) or upon your passing (a testamentary trust). Trusts are important estate planning tools for:
• caring for a disabled relative, using a “Henson Trust”, which allows the person to receive income without breaking BC’s social assistance rules
• distributing property outside of the will, thereby reducing probate costs
• tax planning
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