Updated: Oct 29, 2020
The Importance of Estate Planning Documents
Do you have a will? If so, when was it last updated?
Over 50% of Canadians don’t have a current will. The reasons for not writing a will might be age, disposable income, or present life situation; however, the necessity of writing a will is much more common than most might think.
Common milestones that warrant having a will:
Owning property through purchase or inheritance
Entering an adult interdependent relationship (marriage or common law)
Having children through birth or adoption
Starting a business
Dying intestate (without a will) means that the government determines how your possessions and finances are dealt with, and your loved ones may not be the recipients of your estate.
Benefits of making a will include:
Appointing an Executor to carry out your instructions
Selecting a Guardian to care for minor children
Making burial preferences
Saving on government, court, and lawyer fees
Deciding how your estate is distributed to your beneficiaries - children, grandchildren, friends or charities
Protecting assets in a Trust for your beneficiaries
At the same time that you write your will, you should also include personal directives and a power of attorney. These legal documents give someone you trust the authority to make decisions on your behalf if you lose mental capacity. Your attorney will have the power to make financial decisions on your behalf. The agent you appoint in your personal directives will have the power to make personal decisions on your behalf such as medical treatments, accommodation, and activities. If you do not have these instructions in place, your wishes may not be known or acted upon in the event that you lose your mental capacity. These documents are important because they protect your desires while you are still living, and relieve a bit of the stress on your friends and family in an unfortunate circumstance.
Will: A legal document that specifies how you want your assets distributed and who will care for your children in the event of your death.
Personal Directives: A legal document that appoints someone to make personal decisions on your behalf should you lose mental capacity. Components can include a living will.
Power of Attorney: A legal document that appoints someone to make financial decisions on your behalf should you lose mental capacity.
We encourage you to review your will, power of attorney and personal directives to ensure that they are current. Legal estate planning documents are vital in minimizing tax and legal bills, appointing an executor, declaring your beneficiaries, and avoiding family disputes. If you have questions regarding an existing will or would like to draft a will for the first time, please contact our office for guidance.
The information in this publication is current as of February 12, 2019.
This publication has been carefully prepared; however, it was written in general terms and should not be seen as legal or tax advice. This publication should not take the place of professional advice specific to your own family circumstance. GGT Chartered Professional Accountants, its partners and employees do not accept or assume any liability or duty of care for any loss arising from any action taken or not taken based on a decision made in relation to the concepts discussed in this publication.