Wills and Power of Attorneys
What is the difference?
Wills and Powers of Attorney are important documents that are complimentary to each other. It is appropriate for most adults to have both a Will and a Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney is a document whereby an adult person names another person as his or her representative for specific legal purposes. In most cases, the Power of Attorney is restricted to being exercisable only in the event of incapacity of the person giving the Power of Attorney (the Donor). Accordingly if the Donor is incapacitated by illness or accident then the Attorney can step into the Donor shoes and make decisions that the Donor is unable to make. These decisions can relate to matters such as the ownership and management of real estate, the arranging of mortgages, the management of bank accounts and the handling of investments. On the other hand if a person is incapacitated and does not have a Power of Attorney then things become complicated. The person who believes that he or she is the rightful person to make decisions can apply through a complicated and expensive process to be appointed as a representative of the incapacitated individual. Even worse, the decisions can be made by the Public Trustee’s Office, a branch of the Ontario Civil Service. All-in-all arranging for the making of a Power of Attorney is a prudent course for any adult in Ontario owing assets. A Power of Attorney is valid only while the Donor is alive. Once a person has passed away then the document that deals with the deceased person’s estate is the Will.
Will preparation: If you die without a will, aside from the tax and financial consequences, there can be a significant burden placed on your family. If your family members cannot agree on the way your estate is going to be distributed, a court may have to. This would be costly and will not be the way you would have wished to see your estate be divided. Preparing a will is a small investment which can save your estate thousands of dollars in the future.
Power of attorney (property): A continuing power of attorney will allow a person you appoint to make decisions with regard to your property on your behalf should you not be mentally capable of doing so. If you are going to be away from Canada and have important affairs that need to be handled on your behalf, you may execute a non-continuing power of attorney to have someone take care of your property while you are away from Canada. This type of power of attorney cannot be used where you become mentally incapable.
Power of attorney (health): Should you become physically or mentally incapable, you may want to have somebody appoint who you trust to take medical decisions on your behalf.
Estate administration: If you have been named as an executor in a deceased individual's will or need guidance on how administer the estate of an individual who has died without a will, we can help you!
*Remember all testamentary documents and powers of attorney are revocable by you at any time. If you ever change your mind, you may revoke your will or power of attorney to have a new one prepared or in the alternative we may advise you to simply amend your will. Ask us for details!