While many of us are at home surrounded by our families, it’s natural to be thinking about and discussing how the COVID-19 pandemic might impact our personal and familial affairs. If you now find yourself with an abundance of time, consider taking advantage of the situation by reviewing some of those important estate planning topics you and your family may have been putting off.
Reviewing or Writing Your Will
Many Canadians are thinking about their wills; wondering when the last time they took a good look at it was and perhaps asking themselves where they put it for safe keeping. If you are an adult with any dependants, you should have a will and a power of attorney in place. Having a will ensures your assets will be divided as you wish and that your dependants – children and pets – will have the proper legal guardians in place. If you have had any life changing events since it was last updated, take the extra time while you are in isolation to review the details.
Part of your will includes choosing an executor, the person with the legal authority to represent your estate and execute your will and final wishes. Ensure you’ve chosen an executor who you feel has the knowledge and experience to represent you and handle financial and legal matters. It is important you speak to that person to ensure they feel comfortable and capable of acting in such an important capacity.
If you do not have a will, start taking the steps necessary to begin building your team by contacting us. We can help direct you to valuable resources, like a lawyer and possibly a tax expert if your affairs are more complex.
Appointing a Power of Attorney and Healthcare Directive
You may be surprised to learn that if you were to become incapacitated, your spouse or children would not automatically have the legal right to make decisions on your behalf. A power of attorney and healthcare directive allows you to appoint someone to advocate for you when it comes to your health and financial affairs if you are not able to. A health care directive – sometimes also called a living will – is a document that expresses your wishes for your medical care. A power of attorney protects your finances and gives a person or multiple people the power to deal with your property and financial affairs.
Life Insurance and Beneficiaries
Now is also a good time to review your investment and life insurance beneficiaries. If you have had any major changes in your life – new babies, a separation or divorce, or a loss of a family member, for example – you may have forgotten about some of the administrative changes that need to be made. Take some time to call or video chat your financial advisor to review your policies and ensure they are up to date.
Also, take the time to review your current insurance plan to determine whether your loved ones and those who depend on you, are protected. If you have anyone who relies on you, it is important for you to have life insurance. Even remotely, your financial advisor can work with you one on one to review your needs.
These are not pleasant topics to think about in these uncertain times however, ensuring these legal documents and products are in place may provide you with a sense of security, control and comfort knowing they are there when you or your family needs them.
If you are in urgent need of legal support, the Canadian Bar Association has current developments and resources to guide us through the legal system during these unprecedent times. Each province in Canada has different legal requirements for a valid will and power of attorney. Even with the current environment and requirements for physical distancing, it is possible to have these documents prepared.
Connect with us to help guide you through updating or building your estate plan.