A study focused on the United States reported in 2017 that approximately 70% of Americans do not have a Will. In Canada, the proportion of Canadians with a Will increases, but according to a 2018 study by the Angus Reid Institute approximately 51% of Canadians still do not have a Will. Our experience is that many individuals who have a Will lack the legal documents appointing a substitute decision maker for health care and for their assets and property. An Enduring Power of Attorney and Personal Directive (Alberta), Power of Attorney for Property and Power of Attorney for Personal Care (Ontario), Enduring Power of Attorney and Representation Agreement (British Columbia), Living Wills are all vital to an estate plan as they designate a representative to manage our finances and to make health care decisions on our behalf. The guidance, instructions, and restrictions imposed vary greatly and are intended to reflect personal preference.
The terminology, legal documents, and process to appoint a decision maker vary by jurisdiction. Even within Canada the directive appointing a representative may not be valid in another province. The complexity increases for snowbirds or residents with second homes or cabins and for those who reside at destinations in the United States and the United Kingdom for significant periods. Without directives, your wishes may not be followed and your family faced with having to apply to a court for the authority to act on your behalf. Directives are key to maintaining harmony within your family, particularly if the loss of capacity should be for an extended duration.
It is important to consult with a MacMillan Estate Planning advisor about your specific region. Do you have questions about who and how your finances will be managed or how health care decisions will be made on your behalf? Are you confident that your directives are valid in relation to the jurisdiction to which you travel or in which you own property? Our team of experienced estate planning specialists can help you and your family with anything you need regarding probate and more. Get in touch with us by calling 1-833-266-6464 today.