Making a Will is an important part of planning for your family’s future. If you die without a Will, your property will be divided according to B.C. law, and the costs to administer your estate will increase. You’ll also be giving up the right to appoint the guardian of your choice for any children in your care.
Why should you make a Will?
Every adult who owns an asset(s) or has a spouse or children should have a will. Surprisingly, many people don’t have one. Spending a few hours with your Notary Public planning your estate could save your spouse, children and other beneficiaries much time, effort and money.
When you don’t have a Will you lose control over who gets how much of your estate and when. You also lose the right to appoint a guardian of your choice for any young children you have. Furthermore, the costs to administer your estate will be a lot higher.
Living Wills And Representation Agreements
Although British Columbia doesn’t use “living wills,” advance directives and substitute decision-making agreements like representation agreements can serve a similar purpose. In a medical crisis, these documents will allow the person of your choice to make important health care decisions for you, if you’re not able to make those decisions yourself.
A power of attorney is a legal document that appoints another person, called an “attorney,” to deal with your business and property and to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf. A power of attorney can be very specific or very broad. A power of attorney ends if you become mentally incapable. If you want the power of attorney to continue even if you become mentally incapable of making financial decisions, you should make an enduring power of attorney.
To create an enduring power of attorney, the document must be properly signed and must state:
- whether the attorney (the person appointed to make decisions) can act while you are capable or only while you are incapable, and
- that the attorney’s authority continues despite your incapability.
With a representation agreement, you can choose someone you trust to be your legal representative, who may make decisions for you if you are incapable of doing so on your own. A representative may be given decision-making authority for your personal care and health care, and, in some cases, the routine management of your financial affairs, including legal matters. That person can be a family member, friend, or someone else.