Key documents in your estate plan

Estate planning should be part of your ongoing financial planning. It helps ensure that your beneficiaries are taken care of when you die.

The following information is an introduction to the key legal documents in your estate plan. We recommend that you consult a lawyer or a professional advisor to ensure that your estate plan reflects your family situation.

  1. Your will
  2. Enduring power of attorney
  3. Representation agreement - health-care decision-making agreement
  4. Discretionary trusts - providing for a disabled child

Your will

There are many aspects of estate planning, but the most important document is your will. Your will does two things. It appoints an executor to administer your estate and it describes how your assets are to be distributed to your beneficiaries.

Wills are not just for the wealthy. Everybody should have a will. If you die without a will (called dying intestate) specific rules will be used to decide how your assets are distributed. There is no flexibility. People you want to provide for may be left out. Need we say more?

Enduring power of attorney

When you prepare your will, it is recommended that you also consider preparing an enduring power of attorney. It's a legal document that appoints one or more persons or a corporation to have the power and authority to deal with your money and property and legal affairs if you are alive and continues when you become mentally infirm and unable to manage your affairs.

An enduring power of attorney is easy to prepare. It usually provides an inexpensive yet often practical solution for managing your financial affairs. An enduring power of attorney is limited to assisting with financial and legal matters. It does not authorize the attorney to make medical, health care or personal care decisions.

A person must have the required legal mental capacity to make a valid enduring power of attorney. If a person has a mental disability due to age, illness, or other causes that prevents legal capacity, he/she may still be able to appoint someone to assist with basic financial matters by making a representation agreement. The person must be able to understand that a representative is being appointed to assist with making financial decisions. People who have few financial resources or uncomplicated financial affairs may also choose to appoint a representative for basic financial management. The representation agreement does not permit the representative to manage all financial matters but does allow for assistance with the usual day to day banking and bill paying as well as some other financial matters as set out by the Representation Agreement Act regulations.

Representation agreement - health-care decision-making

A representation agreement is a way to appoint a trusted family member or friend to make medical, health care and personal care decisions for you when you are unable to speak for yourself. It’s also a way to make sure your wishes and values will be honoured. The agreements speak for you while you are living. (Wills speak for you after your death.) For more information on representation agreements, contact the Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre at 604.408.7414 or on the web at www.nidus.ca.

Discretionary trust - providing for a disabled child

If you have concerns about providing for the future of a disabled family member, you can create a discretionary trust for the benefit of disabled persons that is managed by a trustee.

Like Vancity, Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN) has also assisted many families who have special needs. PLAN is a registered non-profit charity that helps create a safe, secure and full life for a disabled relative by providing lifetime advocacy and monitoring. For more information, visit PLAN on the web at www.plan.ca.

To learn more about our trust services

Not sure what to do next? Our Estates & Trusts Department can assist you with impartial and effective planning of your estate.

To learn more, call 604.877.7617.