COLUMN: The ABC’s of estate planning

Estate planning does not have to be difficult...

Brian LOUGHLIN

Estate planning does not have to be difficult.

While we don’t like to think about it, we all know that our passing is inevitable, and we need to plan for that event.

In addition, most of us tend not to consider what would happen if we become incapable.

Who would then manage your finances or make decisions about your health care? While it is not a certainty that you will become incapable of handling your own affairs, it is prudent to plan for this possibility.

There are three documents all of us should have.

A will is one tool we use to direct how your assets would be distributed when you die.

Other tools include the use of joint ownership and beneficiary designations (on life insurance, RRSPs, TFSAs).

In a will you decide who will carry out your instructions (executor), who will be guardian of your minor children, and how your estate assets will be distributed.

An enduring power of attorney is a document that allows you to choose a person to handle your legal and financial affairs if you become incapable of managing these on your own.

This would include matters such as managing your finances, dealing with your pensions, paying your bills and dealing with your property.

The person you appoint must act in your best interest unless you have expressly directed otherwise.

A representation agreement allows you to choose a person to make personal care and health care decisions if you become unable to make those decisions yourself.

You can include specific personal care or health care wishes in the representation agreement, including end-of-life directions.

Having these three documents in place would go a long way to ensuring your wishes are carried out as you want them to be, and that your affairs are handled in a manner that benefits you, your family and your intended beneficiaries.

Brian is a partner with RDM Lawyers LLP in Abbotsford. Brian practises in the areas of wills and estate planning and business law. Comments or questions about this article can be sent to legalease@abbynews.com.