By Patrick Jamieson, Insurance Advisor
I’m just looking over my to-do list and there is one item that I seem to overlook on a regular basis and that is reviewing my will, power of attorney and health care directive. (What you say as you excitedly dig into your filing cabinet to look at your up-to-date document file.) Unfortunately, Canadians don’t often get around to this activity. Time passes, there are more exciting things to do and then, all of a sudden it is too late and your loved ones end up having to make a lot of difficult decisions because none of this important documentation is in place.
Why are these documents so important?
- The Will – a will is a formal document that comes into effect after you die.
- Its purpose is to describe how you would like your assets divided and to whom you would like them distributed to, ie. the beneficiaries of your estate.
- It will also identify who you would like to take care of your children. This is particularly important in the event that you have minors under your care because if you don’t name a caregiver for you children, they will become wards of the state. Parents don’t want to see this happen if it can be avoided.
- Lastly the will sets out who will be the executor of your estate, the person in charge of distributing your assets and making sure your last wishes are carried out. It is important to pick an executor that can handle the job and will do what you ask. Your executor does not have to be a family member.
- Power of attorney (POA) – this document is designed to assign a person to act on your behalf should you be unable to perform important tasks, like paying bills at the bank.
- POA’s can be constructed to allow specific tasks or all tasks to be assigned to another person depending on the trust relationship between the person giving up control and the person assigned as POA.
- It is important to have this document in place, at any age, just in case you become incapacitated in some way and cannot take care of your legal obligations.
- Healthcare directive – this document is created to help communicate to others how you would like to be treated in the case that your medical condition leaves you incapable of making important decision at the time they need to be made.
- It helps remove some of the stress and pressure from your family. For example, if you experience a serious health incident and are on life support, a properly thought-out healthcare directive shows your family that your choice is not to receive life support. I’m not saying that such a decision is easy but knowing what your thoughts are, as laid out in the healthcare directive, makes the decision yours rather than theirs.
Now that you are aware of these important documents please go out and get them checked off of your to do list. It may not be the most exciting activity in your life but it is one of the most crucial and it provides guidance to your family when the time comes.
To contact Patrick send an email to: [email protected]