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A Will expresses an individual's "last will and testament". In other words, it expresses his or her last wishes that take effect upon his or her death. It is only one part of a proper Estate Plan.
There are a number of formal requirements that must be complied with for a Will to be valid. That is why Will Kits are not generally recommended, and why it is best to have a lawyer draft your Will.
If you do not have a Will, make it a priority to get one, even if you have little or nothing. This is because a Will takes much of the uncertainty out of what you want if you were to die suddenly. Imagine for a moment that you have just died unexpectedly. Don't you think that it would be easier for your family and loved ones if you have a will and an inventory of your assets and liabilities. They will know who you wish to act as your estate trustee (formerly called Executor), who your beneficiaries are and what goes to whom. A Will relieves your loved one of the burdens of uncertainty at a very stressful time.
Simple Wills are inexpensive. Complex Wills are more involved and usually cost more, and are usually part of an Estate Plan. You can do virtually anything you want with your last Will. After all, it is your last Will. We usually recommend that you keep you Will simple unless there are specific things that you wish to accomplish or certain things you wish to do with specific assets.
Call for and complete our Wills Questionnaire as best you can.
A Power of Attorney is a written document which allows you to appoint an "attorney or attorneys" to act on your behalf. It essentially gives the attorney(s) the same powers that you have to deal with your assets and your personal care. A Power of Attorney is only valid after it is signed until it is revoked or the person who gave it (the "Grantor") dies. A Power of Attorney does not operate after the Grantor dies.
Powers of Attorneys are usually granted to allow the attorney(s) to make decisions on your behalf in the event you become unable to make those decisions on your own at some future time.
Powers of Attorney are very powerful documents and should only be given after careful consideration to individuals that are completely trustworthy. It is wise to leave them in your lawyers vault so they cannot be accessed by the Attorney(s) until you want them released. It is important to understand that Powers of Attorney are capable of being used as soon as they are signed
Because a Power of Attorney is effective until death (unless it is earlier revoked) and a Will is effective on and after death, it is advisable to have a Will and Powers of Attorneys.
A Power of Attorney can operate both before and after the incapacitation of the Grantor.
There are two types of Powers Of Attorneys: Power of Attorney for Personal Care ("PAPC") and Powers of Attorney for Property ("PAP")
PAPC usually give the attorney power to make decisions about the personal care of the Grantor, such as health decisions, and decisions about whether the Grantor should be moved into a nursing home.
PAP usually give the attorney power to make decisions about the property and liabilities of the Grantor, such as decisions to sell a house or car, or to write cheques on the Grantor's accounts.
Powers of Attorney can be restricted as much as you like. They can be limited to a certain time period or to a certain asset. Consult with your legal advisor to understand how your power of attorney should be limited.
The term "living Will" is actually a misnomer because it actually refers to a power of attorney for personal care (and not a Will) which contains language which directs the Attorney to allow the Donor to die in dignity and without pain should the Donor's condition be critical and irreversible. There may be specific language requesting a DNR (do not resuscitate) in certain circumstances.