Garton & Harris

Besides wills, what estate planning documents should be prepared?

No one wants to leave his or her family in a challenging predicament when he or she passes away. Deciding where assets will go and how affairs will be handled after death is important for British Columbia adults. Just as important as making these decisions is documenting them in ways that are comprehensive, comprehensible and legally sound. This involves the drafting of documents, particularly wills.

A will is the most well-known estate planning document. It details how all assets and liabilities will be distributed after death. It also clarifies issues such as guardianship for dependant children. Finally, it explains who will be responsible for overseeing the distribution of assets according to what is documented. Without a will, an individual's estate will be divided according to provincial estate law.

Documentation pertaining to power of attorney are also important in end-of-life planning. There are many circumstances in which it may become impossible for an individual to make decisions for his or her own health or financial affairs; for example, a mental or physical disability. Powers of attorney name trusted individuals to make those decisions if those circumstances are to arise. 

Depending on one's circumstances, other documents may be needed, such as advance medical directives, trusts or even a list of online account passwords. Many British Columbia adults have questions about wills and other documents, including how to ensure they are valid and where to store them. It is best to discuss these matters with a local estate planning lawyer to ensure all affairs are properly in order.

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