Do you require advice about and professional preparation of a Will?
Have your circumstances changed and does your Will need updating or changing?
We can advise you on, and complete the following services:
- Drafting a Will
- Drafting a Codicil
- Drafting a Power of Attorney
- Drafting a Personal Directive
- Preparing a Family Trust
- General Estate Planning
What is a Will
A Will is a legal document that sets out directions for the distribution of your assets after your death. By creating a Will, you give a clear indication of how your property is to be disposed of so that no one has to decide what your wishes were. Having your directions clearly set out can significantly minimize potential disputes between your beneficiaries and loved ones, after your death.
By creating a Will, you are in control of how your assets will be distributed once all debts and liabilities are paid, subject to any other claims against your estate. Having a Will can often ensure that your loved ones do not have to go through financial and emotional distress associated with the distribution of your estate.
Some important things to consider when making a Will:
- Do you have young children? Do you know who you want to care for them in the event of your death? If you have young children, you can make provisions for their care by appointing a guardian, and by documenting how you wish to release any financial benefits to your children.
- Is your family a blended family? As more and more families are now what is considered a blended family, this can cause major rivalry and emotional upheaval for children from a previous relationship. A Will can make appropriate provisions for children from a previous relationship.
- Do you have a pet? What will happen to your pet if there is no Will? A Will can make provision for who will look after your pet or how much financial support should be given, from your estate to the person looking after your pet.
- Do you feel particularly strongly about a certain charitable organization? Does anyone know about your attachment or wish for any charitable donation upon your death? A Will can make provisions for such donation and this is one of the clearest ways to set out your plan for this.
- What will happen to your email account or social media account? How would you want your executors to deal with these provisions? A Will can document exactly who, if anyone, will have access to any digital assets. What about reward points you may have that can be passed on?
- In a day and age where bankruptcy is becoming more and more common, what will happen to any assets of an estate, in the event of bankruptcy of a beneficiary? Would you want your assets to go to creditors of those intended beneficiaries? A Will can make provisions for such matters to prevent assets from going to creditors of a beneficiary.
If you die without having made a Will, that is an intestacy or an intestate estate. You may well not be carried out and the distribution of your Estate will be as per the rules in the Alberta Wills and Succession Act. The unfortunate result of this is that assets may well be distributed against your wishes.
A Personal Directive is a legal document that appoints a named individual to make decisions on your behalf while you are still alive if you no longer have the capacity to do so. It is similar to what used to be referred to as a “Living Will”. The named individual (“agent”) has the ability to make decisions relating to what is called “personal care decisions” which includes medical treatment and other matters relating to you and your welfare, and in particular withdrawal of life support. You can name the person who decides if you no longer have the ability to make your own personal care decisions and it may be someone other than your doctor or together with your doctor. Your lawyer will ask whom you wish this to be and offer some advice on whom you appoint for this.
Enduring Power of Attorney
Whereas a Personal Directive covers personal care decisions and legal matters of a non-financial nature, an Enduring Power of Attorney covers financial matters, including legal decisions of a financial nature while you are still alive. The authority under an Enduring Power of Attorney only takes effect when the donor becomes incompetent and not able to make decisions for themselves.
The Enduring Power of Attorney provides that the power shall only come into effect upon a written statement from a person after consulting a physician or psychologist to confirm that you are incompetent. This person may be a doctor, but both the person appointed and the doctor or psychologist must sign the written statement.
While these are the estate planning documents required at a minimum, there may be other documents you should consider when making your estate plan and your lawyer will be able to advise you on these.