One of the last things on the minds of anyone at this time of year is Wills and Powers of Attorney. The Holiday rush has begun and with all of the planning and events in the works, who wants to think about ticking off items on an estate planning checklist? Not many people do, but there are a few bare-bone estate planning basics that everyone could benefit from that are especially important for singles and new families that can give the gift of safeguarding your legacy. Specifically, what can you do to prepare an estate plan? Here are 7 things to consider.
1. Think about the worst case scenario. Make the hard decisions.
2. Always go to an expert whose practice focuses on estate planning. If you are not certain about what questions to ask or what ramifications may grow from decisions you are considering, call on a professional’s experience to guide you to sensible answers. This means avoiding online form preparation because:
- You need personalized advice and guidance,
- The websites cannot, or should not, give legal advice,
- The forms they produce are sometimes inaccurate and fail to take advantage of all the law’s variables and,
- They are not always confidential and can share and sell your private information.
3. After you make the hard decisions, ask yourself what could go wrong, and make a backup plan.
4. Decide who you trust. You need an Attorney (and possibly two backups) to assist you financially and medically if you become disabled, and need an Executor/Trustee (and possibly two backups) if you should die.
5. Get the right documents for what you need today. Understand however that the more issues you address now, the more answers your survivors will have when the time arrives. Execute the documents necessary to solve the issues to be faced, which may include a Power of Attorney, Medical Directives, a Will, a Continuing Power of Attorney and other documents.
6. Keep the signed documents in a safe place, and be sure your Attorney and Executor/Trustee can access the documents when the need arises. Better yet, give them copies, not originals.
7. Keep your documents up-to-date. Do not let them age more than 5 years. Review your decisions, for just a few minutes, at least once a year. If your circumstances have changed (new baby, divorce, move to a new province), then go back to your Advisor to revise the documents.
When you bought your new car, you were required to buy auto insurance. You did, and you pay the premiums to the insurance company. If you are in an accident, the insurance covers your risks. If you buy that new house, you will buy homeowner insurance. If the house burns down or the roof is damaged in a storm, the insurance company covers your risks. You should, likewise, have a legally binding plan stating your instructions for who gets the car, who inherits the house should you die, and who will speak for you if you become disabled. Put a bit of the burden on yourself now, and your family will benefit from your selfless gift.
Ontario Personal Estate and Business Executors wish you and yours a wonderful Holiday Season. Call on us to help you give the gift of Safeguarding Your Legacy!
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Until next time,
The Team at OBEBE