Will & Estate Planning Service
As the saying goes, the only certainties in life are death & taxes. You should have a plan for managing both. We can help.
At Red Seal Financial Ltd., our Will & Estate Planning Service has been developed to assist you in putting a plan in place for the inevitable end-of-life journey. If you’re like most, you struggle with imagining your own mortality. This struggle prevents many people from putting a legally defensible plan in place before it is too late. The confusion that results for loved ones left behind when your wishes aren’t clearly documented can create stress & conflict at a difficult time. More importantly, it can result in an very different outcome than you had intended.
Who will be responsible for making decision on your behalf if you become incapacitated and unable to make your own decisions?
Who will be the guardian of your children if you pass away unexpectedly?
Who will manage the sale of your assets and the distribution of your personal effects at the end?
You may have answers to these questions, but unless you have documented those answers in a legally valid way you may be putting yourself, your affairs and your money in the hands of someone not of your choosing.
Our process will guide you in developing a valid:
- Enduring Power of Attorney; and
- Personal Directive.
These legal documents will provide clear, legally binding answers to the above questions as well as many others.
We all have a legacy to leave behind. Make sure that legacy isn’t one of confusion & conflict for your loved ones. Document your wishes now, while you are willing & able, and have confidence your affairs will be handled according to your wishes.
The Legal Documents
What is a Will?
A properly prepared Will allows you to direct where your property will go after your death. It can save a great deal of time, expense, and stress for your family and loved ones during a time of grief. A Will also allows you to name a personal representative who will represent your estate after your death and carry out the wishes you have stated in your Will.
The rules to settling an estate where the deceased has not left a valid Will can be found in the Wills and Succession Act. In short, if you pass away without a Will, the public trustee will become an active part of your estate and have a voice in how your estate is settled. This is a last resort and is recognized as a less than perfect way to finalize your affairs especially where you have orphaned minor children &/or have an active business. With just a little planning, you can do better!
What is an Enduring Power of Attorney?
An Enduring Power of Attorney is a legal document you can use to appoint someone to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf. If you are the one passing the authority to someone else, you are called the donor. The person you pass the authority to is called the attorney. A Power of Attorney is "enduring" because its power continues after the donor becomes mentally incapacitated or it can take effect after the donor becomes mentally incapacitated.
If you were to become unable to make your own decisions, who would you want to be legally empowered to make your decisions for you? An Enduring Power of Attorney will let you name that person now while you can do so. If you don’t, this could be someone who doesn’t know you well and may not make decisions in accordance with your wishes.
What is a Personal Directive?
A Personal Directive is a legal document you can use to appoint someone to look after health and personal care decisions in the event you become mentally incompetent. There are two types of Personal Directives:
- General – An agent is appointed with the general power to make decisions on your behalf.
- Specific – An agent is appointed with specific instructions on what decisions you wish to be made on your behalf.
If you become mentally incompetent through injury or dementia, it is important that someone have the legal authority to deal with health and medical issues. Having an advocate who can champion your best interests in a hospital or long term care setting can mean the difference between a comfortable end-of-life journey and a not so comfortable one.
Red Seal Financial Ltd.’s Will & Estate Planning Service involves five steps. Each step is critical to ensuring that the legal documents being prepared truly reflect your wishes now, and going forward. There are a number of factors and the process requires a thoughtful, considered approach.
Step 1 - Will & Estate Planning Questionnaire
In advance of our first meeting, we will provide you with a questionnaire. This document will guide you through a series of questions forcing you to think through different scenarios. A preliminary attempt at answering all the questions is required in order to make efficient use of the time we have together. This questionnaire can be done individually, or together with a spouse. Note: If you’re doing the questionnaire with a spouse it’s okay if you don’t necessarily agree with each other on all points. This is normal and frankly… expected!
Step 2 – Meeting with Advisor
We will meet with you at our office to review the questionnaire together. This review will involve us challenging your answers to identify any confusion or ambiguity. Where added detail is required, we will work with you to more clearly define your wishes. The outcome of this meeting is a clear, well developed understanding of what your end of life wishes are.
Step 3 – Advisor Introduction
Once our review is complete, we will initiate an introduction to one of our legal partners. This introduction provides the partner with your contact information, a copy of your completed questionnaire and some contextual information about you and your goals. We work with local law firms with whom we have negotiated preferred rates. Because of the volume of business we refer, and the amount of preliminary work we do with you, our legal partners extend to us very competitive rates that wouldn’t otherwise be available to you. (Note: If you have a firm that you prefer to work with, we will make arrangements with that firm and adjust our fee accordingly.)
Step 4 - Meeting with Lawyer
The next step is to meet with the lawyer who will have prepared your Will, Enduring Power of Attorney and Personal Directive. The lawyer will review the completed legal documents with you, ensure you understand their contents and their legal implications, and have you sign where required. At this point, you will be provided with completed copies of these documents to take home and file in a safe place. You should also communicate to your loved ones where they can find these documents should they be required.
Step 5 – Plan a Review
As the saying goes, the only constant in life is change. As your life evolves and your circumstances change, so too may your wishes. At this point, it is important to schedule a review to ensure that the documents continue to reflect your wishes in the future. We recommend an annual review be scheduled in order to guarantee that these important legal documents never fall out of date with both legislation and your wishes.
The results of the Red Seal Financial Ltd. Will & Estate Planning Service will include:
- A valid Will;
- A valid Enduring Power of Attorney;
- A valid Personal Directive;
- Two credible witnesses to your wishes in the event these documents are ever challenged in court; and
- A firm timeline for reviewing these documents.