Help from a Lawyer:
Preventing Headaches & Heartaches

By securing the professional assistance of a lawyer experienced in estate planning, you can ensure that all documents relating to your estate are in legal order in the event of your death or your temporary or permanent inability to manage your affairs.

Three legal documents can set out your wishes and work together to address the entire range of potential personal and financial issues, ensuring a relatively seamless transition in the case of your incapacity or death. They are:

  • The Will: This document takes effect upon your death. Anyone with real property or assets of any kind should have a will. Among numerous other functions, it provides for the distribution of your property to your beneficiaries, and may also indicate who should be the guardian of your minor children. It also appoints an executor to carry out the provisions of the will.
  • The Enduring Power of Attorney: This document usually takes effect should you become temporarily or permanently unable to manage your affairs because of sickness, injury or other incapacity. It permits an agent you have chosen ahead of time to manage your financial affairs on your behalf.
  • The Personal Directive: This document only takes effect in the case of your temporary or permanent incapacity. It permits an agent you have previously chosen to manage personal affairs on your behalf, and it sets out your wishes relating to health care, accommodation, and other personal matters.

Jointly-held property passes automatically to the owner who survives, and assets (such as pensions, registered retirement savings plans, life insurance and so forth) with designated beneficiaries pass automatically to the beneficiaries. This happens without reference to the will. Your estate-planning advisors can explain to you how you can maximize the use of jointly held property and beneficiary designations to minimize probate costs and protect assets from the claims of creditors.

The lawyers who are members of the Estate Planning Council of Edmonton have extensive experience in working on estate-planning issues. They can help minimize future confusion or even bitterness among your relatives and associates, and ensure that your wishes are clearly documented, understood and fulfilled.

Estate Planning Tip: Update your will!

It is wise to review your will and other planning documents with your lawyer on a regular basis to ensure they reflect your current circumstances and wishes, that they do not conflict with one another, and that they conform with recent legislative changes. Minor changes to a will can easily be made through the use of a codicil. Remember that a marriage revokes a will but not beneficiary-designation forms, while a divorce does not cancel either. Check to ensure that the appointment of executors, guardians and beneficiaries is appropriate to your current circumstances.