Estate Documents Everyone Needs

Nobody really likes to “nag” or be annoying, do they? Some days it seems to be the only way I can get things done when trying to get people to face issues that they’d prefer to ignore (money, insurance and death).

The number one item that I’m constantly reminding (nagging?) people about is to get their Will, Power of Attorney & Health Representative Agreements set up and in place. While most of us realize how truly important these three documents are, many keep putting this task off for a later date.

Why do people put this off for so long? Is it not wanting to think about death? Are they assuming that nothing will happen to them prematurely?

I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who first said, “The only two things guaranteed in life are death and taxes”. In order to make the decisions necessary to complete these important documents, you have to face this reality and discuss what will need to be done. If you don’t make these decisions and ensure that they will be known, the court system will make them for you.

Another common objection that I hear from my clients when I ask why this hasn’t been done is that they don’t want (or can’t afford) to spend the money to have these done properly. Many turn to “online will kits” and assume that this should be adequate. Creating these documents can be quite complex and a trained professional’s insight can be worth their weight in gold here. For example, a do it yourself kit will not discuss the “Wills Variation Act of BC” that allows spouses and children to contest your wishes that you have laid out. Careful planning is also needed for those who have been divorced or remarried – without properly designed documents, an ex-spouse could potentially inherit your entire estate.

Some clients also claim they are procrastinating on this front because they are unable to decide the answer to some of the questions that are being asked. If you truly can’t decide who to name as the guardian for your children or the best executor for your estate, go forward and get the documents drawn up anyways. It is fairly easy to make adjustments down the road without having to redo the whole thing.

If after reading all of this, you still feel that you don’t want to bother with a Will, Power of Attorney & a Health Representative Agreement, you at least owe it to yourself and your family to find out what happens if you don’t have these documents. A quick Google search will show thousands of articles on “dying without a will in British Columbia”. Similar information is also available on what happens if you’re no longer able to make medical or financial decisions.

Your quick search will show that having these documents in place is likely not going to help you personally, but they will provide significant protection and peace of mind for your loved ones. You’re not setting this part of your financial plan up for yourself but instead you do it for those you care about most.

The time to stop procrastinating has come – speak to your lawyer today and set up an appointment to create or review your plans. If you’re not sure who to talk to, send me an email and we can point you in the right direction.