When someone passes on, it’s enough to have to deal with the emotional impact of the event, never mind the particulars surrounding it, including especially the material things that a loved one leaves behind.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of putting your life in order so that your loved ones are not left bewildered or troubled about matters concerning your estate when you are gone.
It’s something a country full of Baby Boomers ought to take to heart. While none of us expect to be visiting the Pearly Gates soon, the day of our passing is nonetheless coming. And none of us can say for sure what the future will bring. For peace of mind, we ought to put our worldly affairs in order. This is called estate planning. And it’s not rocket science. All it takes is a little knowledge and effort.
Chiefly, estate planning involves two things - assigning control through Power of Attorney, and developing a will.
In terms of assigning control, should you become gravely ill, critically injured, or otherwise unable to carry on normally, you will need someone to step in and make decisions. That could be another member of your family, or simply someone that is trusted. Through a document called Power of Attorney, power is legally assigned to someone else to make financial and personal care decisions for you.
If you haven’t already done so, be sure you have assigned Power of Attorney now. Provincial governments in Canada provide help in this regard. For example, The Ontario Government’s Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee has a power of attorney kit that aids in assigning responsibilities.
• On the internet visit: www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/family/pgt/poa.pdf
• Contact your local Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP). To find out who your local MPP is visit: http://www.lop.parl.gc.ca/ParlInfo/compilations/houseofcommons/memberbyp...
In terms of a will, it’s always best that you prepare a legal will with the help of an attorney. Then there should be no confusion about what to do with assets and belongings when you pass on. Lacking a will, your assets will be divided according to rules of government, and in a manner that may not please all family members.
There are different types of wills you should know about. They include:
• The handwritten will. It is a document that is written completely by hand. It needs to be dated and signed to make it legal. It does not need witnesses.
• The typed will. A typed will must be dated and signed by the author and two witnesses who have no claim to the estate holdings. All three parties must be together during the signing.
• The videotaped will. This can be problematic. For example, a videotaped will is not legally valid in the Province of Ontario.
Death, I know, is a touchy subject. But it is a reality we all must face as human beings. By doing so responsibly, we can actually live out our lives more fully and more comfortably.