Over the last few weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all Canadians’ lives in significant ways, be it financially, emotionally, physically or otherwise.
Faced with such uncertainty, estate planning is all the more important, whether it is to review existing legal documents and ensure they are up-to-date or to create new ones.
What is an Estate Plan?
Simply put, an estate plan is a document or sets of documents, that outlines how you want your affairs to be handled when you pass away or in the event of your physical or mental incapacity.
It’s a series of detailed instructions that not only covers what will happen to your assets but also:
- How your bills and debts will be paid (including taxes and probate);
- How your investments will be handled;
- How decisions should be made about your health and personal care in the event that you become unable to make those decisions;
- How you want your children to be cared for;
- How you want your business affairs handled; and
- How to prepare a business for succession.
At this time, estate plans should be reviewed, in particular to account for any major life changes including marriage, birth or adoption of a child, divorce, re-marriage, death of a spouse, and similar.
The Importance of Having an Up-to-Date Will
A valid and current will is an important part of a complete estate plan. A will gives you control over the distribution of your estate, the care of your children, the transition of any businesses you may own, and any charitable donations you wish to make.
Making sure you have a valid and current will is the best way to ensure your wishes for your estate and family are actually realized.
Personal Directives and Powers of Attorney
Additionally, of particular concern during these times is the importance of having a personal directive and a power of attorney.
A personal directive is a legal document allowing you to name a person or persons that you trust (e.g. family member, close friend, etc.) to make personal decisions on your behalf in the event that you lose capacity. That person then acts as your agent.
Personal directives may be needed for a short time (e.g. if you are unable to make decisions due to a passing serious illness or injury), or they may be required for the remainder of your life.
Irrespective of the length of time it covers, a personal directive will outline the scope of the decision-making authority of your agent. You can also include specific instructions and wishes. Your instructions can be about any personal matters that are non-financial including health care, end of life care, where you would like to live/who you would like to live with, etc.
Finally, having a power of attorney can be necessary for ensuring your legal needs and financial well-being are protected, should you ever become incapacitated and unable to make decisions on your own.
A power of attorney provides someone (i.e. the attorney) with the authority to look after your legal or financial needs.
Attorneys are chosen by the grantor while that grantor is still capable of making decisions. The attorney acts as the grantor’s proxy and makes decisions for them if the grantor is ill or injured, or when the grantor is no longer able to make decisions on their own.
DBH Law recognizes that there continues to be growing concern in Alberta and elsewhere about the spread of COVID-19. We have implemented several measures to reduce the risk and impact to our employees, clients and the community at large.
Please be aware that we are prepared to initiate business continuity protocols for remote work and communications. It is our priority to ensure business continuity for our clients while ensuring the safety of our people. We recognize that the outbreak of COVID-19 is an unprecedented situation globally and we wish to assure you DBH Law is equipped and prepared to maintain and continue business services to our clients during this pandemic.
The highly-experienced and strategic Calgary estate lawyers at DBH Law can help you draft or update your will to reflect the needs of your family and your estate, no matter its size or complexity. Our responsive and concise approach to our work makes the process of will and estate planning easy for our clients.
We take pride in the relationships we have built with our clients, and the opportunities we have to represent their legal needs as they grow and evolve. We understand your need to provide for your family and loved ones while also minimizing the taxation and chances of litigation your estate may face. We can be reached by phone at 403.252.9937 or online and look forward to the chance to learn about what is important to you, and how we can help you achieve that.