Wills, Powers of Attorney and Estate Planning

These are areas of law people often neglect or prefer not to think about. It can be painful, emotional, and deeply personal to handle these matters, but the truth is that planning ahead for your final days or the possibility of unfortunate circumstances, such as sickness or accidents, is something everyone can and should do. By drawing your attention on what the future holds, you are providing yourself the tools to care for yourself and the people you love.

So what does thinking about the inevitable entail? First, it is important to understand how the law will treat you and your loved ones in either the case of death or incapacity. If minors and dependents are involved, you will have to think about financial and guardianship measures. Considerations also need to be made for blended families or common law spousal  relationships that aren’t automatically considered under the law.

The truth is that the law can get pretty complicated when it comes to these matters, especially in our day and age of modern-day relationships. Planning for blended families, common-law relationships, minors and dependents are all areas of utter importance that are not always captured adequately under the laws that dictate what happens when someone does not have a legal plan in place. Not planning ahead of time can be disastrous—both from a financial and an emotional perspective.

At our firm, we know all too well how avoiding the subject can cause unnecessary pain and suffering for those left taking care of our affairs or those we leave behind. Not to mention, there can be considerable tax and financial planning that can save you and your loved ones’ money and heartache, while enlarging the nest egg left behind.

Estate Planning

Estate planning is about planning for what happens to you and your belongings if you ever lose the ability to look after yourself (incapacity) or in the case of death.

If you are like most people, you probably think a simple Will should do. You might even just assume certain people will get your belongings automatically. There is so much more than that. There are legal requirements, processes and laws that make things much harder to resolve.
First of all, what does a Will entail? Did you know you could write more than one? How about taxes that are due on death? Let’s not forget the variety of tricky legal issues that you would leave behind if you did not have a Will. Whether you are leaving treasures or trials behind will really be up to you.

We would not be doing you justice if we said that it’s super simple to put the best plan together. Sure, there are simple Wills that might work for some people, but a one-size-fits-all approach just does not cut it for so many of our ever-changing relationships these days. That is why we strive to take the time to get to know our clients, educate them on various scenarios and options to build a plan that makes them sleep better.

If we had to sum up what estate planning involves, we’d say the following:
  • Understanding your assets and your goals
  • Planning a roadmap to achieving your goals
  • Moving assets around, if needed, to achieve an efficient future plan for distribution
  • Using legal tools such as: Wills, Powers of Attorney for Property and Personal Care and Trusts to achieve a plan that meets your goals
  • Understanding your business and corporate affairs to help plan for smooth succession and tax reduction

We love what we do. We know that you work hard to build a life and to include the things that matter most to you in everything you do. At our firm, we know that when you think about the inevitable, you come to really value all the things you do have. You come to think about what you really care about, and you express that in a way that will live on forever.

Basic Planning

A basic plan for most people will include three documents. They can each be as simple or as complex as is right for you, but having them is something that should not be put off to tomorrow.

The Will

A Will is a legal document that outlines the person or people who will take charge of the after-death process. It provides a roadmap for them to follow on how to deal with your affairs and dictates who will get what. Not just that, it leaves guardianship provisions, considers dependents, and planning one means using tools that reduce legal fees, taxes and ensure that the possibility of people fighting after your gone is minimal, if not entirely eliminated.

Powers of Attorney

We live in a country where the utmost importance is placed on our individual rights and freedoms to make choices that affect us. As long as we do not set out to harm others, we are free to have control over ourselves—both physically and financially. So what happens when medically speaking, you are unable to make decisions for yourself? This is referred to as incapacity. When you are legally declared as incapacitated, you cannot take care of your own affairs and you will need someone appointed to do that for you. You can do that by having Powers of Attorney drafted ahead of time or you can let the government decide for you. It is important to know how that can affect you, but first let’s make the distinction between your financial matters and your health matters.

Power of Attorney for Personal Care

Your personal care decisions involve decisions about what medical treatments will be undertaken on you, or any decision involving your physical care. These decisions are often sensitive and particular, and if you have not created a legal Power of Attorney for Personal Care to appoint someone (or multiple people) to make specific decisions for you, the law will dictate who can.

Having a Power of Attorney for Personal Care drafted while you have the capacity to make your own decisions means you can pick exactly what treatment you want, when you want it, how you want it, and who will make these decisions for you. You can avoid cases of family conflicts in making those hard choices by doing so and be very specific about how you want to be treated. Not to mention some old age homes or residences that provide medical supervision require this document before they admit a new resident. It’s always a good idea to be well prepared to ensure that you will have the best treatment when you are most vulnerable.

Continuing Power of Attorney for Property

Unlike healthcare decisions, there is no law which automatically dictates who is entitled to take care of your financial affairs if you lose capacity. Without a legal document giving someone that authority, banks will refuse to allow anyone to operate accounts held in your name solely and you will not be able to sell any real estate you own either.

A Continuing Power of Attorney for Property is a document you can create ahead of time to ensure that if that ever happens you have someone or some people in charge to legally take control over your matters. This means your bills can be paid, your assets can be managed and your finances can be handled in a way to ensure you and your family is taken care of. One drafted for your business can also ensure your business runs smoothly and by the right person, people or company.

By signing your Powers of Attorneys while capable, you decide who makes decisions for you. A tailored document can restrict the power granted or leave specific instructions for what you want done. Not only does this document give you peace of mind, but it can always be revoked or ended while you are capable—giving you the freedom you want, when you want it.

Advanced Planning

Advanced estate planning involves understanding tax implications on your assets after death. It may involve corporate restructuring or creating legal entities, such as trusts, to care for certain people during their lifetime. If advanced estate planning is something that looks right for you, we’ll sit down with you and the relevant advisors to create a plan that can be relied upon for the success of your lifelong plan.

Advanced estate planning includes:
  • Rearranging assets and reviewing beneficiary designations
  • Drafting multiple wills
  • Corporate restructuring for tax purposes
  • Creation of trusts for disabled beneficiaries or beneficiaries with restricted access to assets, spousal trusts, or life insurance trusts
  • Financial planning using financial tools, such as life insurance or registered or tax-free savings accounts


Why Do I Need a Will?

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What Is Estate Planning?

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What Happens If I Lose Capacity and Have No Power of Attorney?

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