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Many Canadians are not writing wills or planning for end of life

The end of a person's life is not something most people look forward to, but it is something for which it is worth planning. Making decisions in advance, and then keeping them up-to-date, can relieve the potential burden on loved ones in the future. Wills, powers of attorney and advance directives are important documents that all citizens of British Columbia should have.

A recent survey revealed 62 percent of Canadians do not have a will in place. An additional 12 percent believe their wills are out of date. That leaves just over a quarter of the population who are prepared. Surprisingly, just under half of Canadians aged 65 and older are without a will.

Without a will, when a person dies, he or she is said to be intestate. When that happens the courts decide where the assets go, which may not be in line with the deceased's intentions, or the desires of the heirs. Processing an estate without a will can take years. An out-of-date will can also be problematic, leaving some assets unspoken for and others misdirected.

Power of attorney and advance directives are also important to the estate-planning process. Unlike wills, these documents will help while the signor is still alive. Making vital decisions about health care and financial decisions while still physically and mentally able can provide peace of mind for everyone, especially those on whom the responsibilities will fall.

None of these documents are difficult to create, though it takes thought and skill to maximize their effectiveness. Professional help is always advisable when making significant life decisions such as these. A lawyer experienced with estate law in British Columbia can help with the creation of wills and other end-of-life documents. 

Source: metronews.ca, "Canadians not organizing their end-of-life documents", Talbot Boggs, March 14, 2017

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