The last six months have caused Canadians to think about their health and wealth, and to rethink what they have been doing thus far. As a result, many Canadians have revisited their existing estate planning documents or have consulted with a lawyer (or advisor) to begin the process.
Completing your Will is not like riding a bike or painting a picture. Instead, it is just one of those things that you know you need to accomplish, but you keep putting it off because quite frankly, it is not fun. Despite that, your financial planner, accountant, family, and neighbour will all tell you that you need to get it done. What is the first reaction to hearing that? Usually, it is a “yeah sure” or a, “I’ll get it done eventually”.
One of the reasons people may continuously put off planning their estate is that they may have unanswered questions or misconceptions. Our goal now is to clear the air, and to make it maybe a little bit easier for you to get your affairs in order, and hopefully, you can understand the need for estate planning.
To begin, there are three legal documents that are essential to estate planning:
- Last Will and Testament,
- Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA), and a
- Personal Directive (PD).
A Last Will and Testament or Will is a document that formally expresses your instructions as to how you want your estate to be divided upon your death. It allows you to ensure that your money and estate is inherited by the people you choose. Also, if you have children that are minors, you can name a guardian to act on behalf of them.
Basic decisions you will make when preparing your Will with a lawyer:
- Executor – Naming the person or institution you want to carry out the instructions in your Will.
- Special Bequests – Specific gifts, such as money, property, or a family heirloom.
- Beneficiaries – Naming the person(s) and/or organizations who are to benefit from your estate.
- Trusts – Trusts may be set up for minors or adults if they require a trustee to handle their finances.
- Burial or End of Life Instructions – Specify whether you wish to be buried or cremated and what type of reception or funeral service you with to have.
An Enduring Power of Attorney or EPA is a legal document that states who you want to make financial decisions on your behalf when you lose capacity.
Some of the basic decisions you will make when preparing your EPA with a lawyer can include:
- Attorney – Naming the person you choose to make financial decisions on your behalf.
- Restrictions – You can choose to place restrictions or limitations on the power that your Attorney has in making financial decisions on your behalf.
A Personal Directive or PD is a legal document that states who you want to make health care decisions on your behalf when you lose capacity.
Basic decisions you will make when preparing your PD with a lawyer can include:
- Agent – Naming the person you choose to make health care decisions on your behalf
- Instructions – You may state specific health care instructions in your PD to assist your Agent in making decisions.
What If I Don’t Have a Will, EPA or PD?
If your time comes and you do not have a Will, someone in your life will be responsible for hiring a lawyer and applying to the court to be named as the Personal Representative of your estate. This is an expensive and time-consuming process. Also, your estate will be distributed according to the intestate succession rules in Alberta so you will not have any say in how your estate is distributed.
Similarly, if you lose capacity and you do not have an EPA or PD, someone will be tasked with the burden of hiring a lawyer and applying to the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee to be named as your guardian and trustee. This is also an expensive and time-consuming process.
Consult With A Professional
It is crucially important to meet have a lawyer help you draft your Will, EPA and PD. A lawyer will ensure that the documents are error free, comply with statutory requirements and plan for contingencies.
Our experienced Wills & Estates lawyers are available to guide you through this process of completing your Will, EPA and PD and will show you that planning can be stress-free.
Contact our office today to meet with one of our knowledgeable Wills & Estates lawyers to get started. We are happy to provide a small discount on estate planning packages, simply click on the link below.
Shawn obtained his Juris Doctor from Dalhousie University in 2011 and his Bachelor of Science from the University of Alberta in 2007. He was raised in the Edmonton-area and is pleased to provide legal services to residents of Edmonton and the surrounding area. Shawn strives to provide value to his clients by providing practical, timely and cost-effective legal services. He recognizes the need for lawyers to think outside the box and aims to deliver creative solutions to the complex legal issues his clients are faced with.
Shawn maintains a general legal practice with a focus in the areas of wills and estates, real estate and corporate/commercial law.
He has appeared at the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench and the Provincial Court of Alberta and is proficient at handling all types residential, construction and commercial real estate transactions.
Shawn is an avid runner and musician. He also enjoys playing golf, tennis and watching the Edmonton Oilers.
780-438-5281 ext. 265
Randy has practiced law in Edmonton for over 30 years, having moved his is practice to Shourie Bhatia LLP in 2012. His practice includes wills, estates planning, and trusts, with extensive experience in estate administration and probate law, as well as estate litigation.
Additionally, he represents numerous clients in farm, residential, commercial real estate matters, and condominium issues.
Randy graduated from the University of Alberta Law School with a Bachelor of Science (Hons. Biochemistry) Degree.
Randy is a board member and Secretary/Treasurer for the Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities (SACSC) which is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to violence prevention and character education for youth. He has coached youth fastball at both the provincial and national level, and continues to enjoy playing recreational slo-pitch.
780-438-5281 ext. 259