Estate planning in a time of uncertainty

As the world changes in response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, you may wonder how you can legally best protect yourself, and loved ones. The present is a good time to make certain that you have certain crucial legal documents in place.

Last Will and Testament

Every adult should have a Will in place at all times. The Will ensures your instructions are honoured after your passing. You will name a party to be your executor, and you will clearly set out the terms you wish for the distribution of your property. It is encouraged that you consult a lawyer in drafting your Will, to ensure the Will is not easily challenged, or subject to misinterpretation.

Power of Attorney

With the advent of Covid-19, many people may need to provide care to elderly parents. If your parents wish you to make such decisions, it is very important that you have the legal authority to do so.

The legal way to confer such decision making power is through a power of attorney, naming someone as the “attorney”. A grantor should only choose someone you trust implicitly – you will be giving them immediate power over your banking, money, and property.

If someone has an illness such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, and is therefore already unable to make their own decisions, they will not be able to validly name an attorney. Instead, a loved one may need to seek a court-appointed guardianship order to be able to make decisions on their behalf.

Health Care Directive

A Health Care Directive allows you to express your wishes regarding medical treatment. This document can become important if you later lose the ability to speak or communicate. The Health Care Directive will name a proxy to make medical decisions for you.

Making sure that you have signed the above legal documents to better protect yourself is a means to exert control in this time of uncertainty. And given the current impetus to stay at home, what better time to deal with estate planning? For any specific questions, readers are encouraged to consult a lawyer.

The above is for general information only. Parties should seek legal advice prior to taking action in specific situations. Robertson Stromberg LLP offers legal advice and representation in all areas of law, including experience in estate planning, and estate litigation.

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Articles & Research Estate planning in a time of uncertainty