Important Documents You Need Besides a Will

Disclaimer: This article is intended for the purposes of providing information only and is to be used only for the purposes of guidance. This article is not intended to be relied upon as the giving of legal advice and does not purport to be exhaustive.

Life is unpredictable and sometimes things happen that were not part of the plan. That being said, we discussed before how important planning is and how a will protects those important people in your life. 

However, that is not where estate planning starts and ends.  There are other documents, for example, a power of attorney, that you will want to have in place.

In this blog post, we’ll go over some of the most important documents you should have besides a will to ensure that your loved ones are fully cared for and protected.

If you would like to learn more about how we help our clients with their estate planning, please visit here or book a call with us here.

power of attorney

What is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document that gives another person, known as an attorney for property or attorney for personal care, the power to make certain decisions for someone (known as the grantor) who has given them power.

In other words, this person will have similar powers and rights you have when it comes to making important decisions on your behalf, from financials to health care, if you are unable to make those decisions yourself.

In Ontario, there are two categories of Powers of Attorney:

  • Power of Attorney for Personal Care
  • Power of Attorney for Property

Let’s start with the power of attorney for property.  That category is further split into a continuing power of attorney or a non-continuing (general) power of attorney.

The difference between the two is within the name and the length of effectiveness. A continuing power of attorney will handle your financial affairs if you cannot, including if you are mentally incapable.

A non-continuing (general) power of attorney will cover your financial affairs, but not if you become mentally incapable. This type of power of attorney may be used if you are going to be away for an extended period of time and will need someone to handle your affairs in Ontario.

A Power of Attorney for Personal Care will cover personal decisions for you, such as decisions related to your health if you cannot make those decisions yourself.

Can I have a living will?

You may have heard the term “living will” before, but it is not recognized in Ontario. However, an advanced medical directive can be prepared that outlines your wishes in the event that you cannot make those decisions for yourself.

You may wonder how that differs from a power of attorney for personal care. A power of attorney for personal care appoints someone to make those decisions for you.  An advanced directive will not name any individual but will set out your wishes.

This is important to have if you have strong feelings about your medical care, such as whether or not to prolong your life in certain situations or if there are medical procedures or practices that you are morally opposed to.  Some clients choose to include their advanced directive with their power of attorney for personal care so that their attorney is aware of their wishes.

trust for children

Do I need a trust for my children?

Many parents leave their estates to their children in the event that both parents pass away.  However, it can be concerning to wonder if their child will be ready for that responsibility on their 18th birthday.

Our role as parents is to protect our children and sometimes that means protecting them from themselves. 

A trust is a legal entity that holds your estate on behalf of your beneficiaries. A trustee is appointed to distribute the estate as per your instructions. For example, that may mean allowing certain expenses (i.e. buying a home, university, etc.) while holding onto the bulk of the estate until the beneficiary reaches a certain age, such as the age of 25, when most persons are far more fiscally responsible than they were at, for instance, age 18.

Comprehensive Estate Planning

As you can see, there is more to estate planning than a will. Of course, each document mentioned above has its own legislative requirements to be valid and legally binding.

Speaking with a lawyer about your estate planning is a necessary step. Have the peace of mind that your family will not be unduly burdened with legal complications after you have passed.

Speak with us today about how we can ensure that your estate planning is comprehensive and fits your needs. Book a call here.