IMPORTANCE OF HAVING A WILL
A will is a legal document that says how you want your estate to be distributed once you pass away. Your estate will include all your assets and all your liabilities. An up-to-date will can help your estate representative deal with your estate when you die. Every province has its own laws for estate distribution. Although you are not legally required to prepare a will, the laws in your province or territory will determine how your estate is divided.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you give someone you trust to make decisions for you if something happens and you are no longer able to look after matters on your own.
There are two types of Power of Attorney:
- Power of Attorney for Personal Care – the person you name can make decisions about your health care, housing and other aspects of your personal life (such as meals and clothing) if you become mentally incapable of making these decisions.
- Power of Attorney for Property – the person you name can make decisions about your financial affairs (including paying your bills, collecting money owed to you, maintaining or selling your house, or managing your investments).
Powers of attorney as well as estate representatives are usually prepared at the same time as your will.
An estate representative is the individual/s you choose to manage your estate after your death. An estate representative may also be called an executor, an estate trustee or a liquidator.
You can name more than one person as your estate representative and it can be someone close to you such as a family member or friend. You may also name a financial professional. You may also name a financial professional as your estate representative.
Your estate representative must identify and locate all of the assets and liabilities of the estate, and must ensure that liabilities of the estate including debts, funeral expenses, estate administration costs and taxes are paid. The balance left over after payment of these liabilities is what is available for distribution from the estate.
If you have not named an estate representative or have no will, provincial or territorial courts will name someone to manage your estate.