This is a starting point for individuals in BC on documents to put in place and basic tasks to help things go smoothly for themselves and their loved ones in the event of death or incapacity. Keep in mind that everyone’s situation is different, and your lawyer may raise issues and suggest strategies that are beyond this list.
Basic estate planning documents
□ A Will (for death). A few main decisions:
- Executor, and alternate, to manage the estate (resident in Canada)
- Guardian(s) to care for minor children
- Any special instructions for personal effects
- Cash and charitable gifts, if any
- How the estate is to be distributed (to spouse, children, other – if minor children, until what age is it to be held in trust before being paid out to them, and whether any staged payouts along the way)
- Funeral wishes (burial or cremation)
□ An enduring Power of Attorney (during life, for finances and legal decisions)
- An attorney usually has the power to deal with your home, property, investments, banking, legal and other financial
- The main decision is who to name as attorney, and alternate (resident in Canada)
- Can take effect immediately (even if not intended for use until incapacity), or only if evidence of incapacity
□ A Representation Agreement (during life, for health and personal care decisions if you are incapable)
- A Representative in a “s.9” Representation Agreement has power to make decisions over health care and personal case, as set out in agreement.
- Can including “living will” language regarding end of life wishes, as well as other particular wishes
- Main decision is who to name as Representative and alternate, as well as powers and wishes (lawyer will discuss options)
□ If applicable, get special advice for blended families, business owners, marriage and cohabitation agreements, trust options, etc.
Other tasks that will smooth the way
□ Financial information – create (and keep up to date) a list of important financial information: home and mortgage info, bank accounts, RRSPs/RIFs/TFSAs, investment accounts, pensions, life insurance, disability and critical illness insurance, credit cards, debts, lines of credit. Keep with copy of your Will.
□ People – create a list of people to contact and inform. Friends and family, but also financial advisor, accountant, lawyer to contact for help.
□ Digital life – create (and keep up to date) a list of email, social media and other online accounts, including usernames and passwords. For security, keep this in a safe place (a safe deposit box for example – you need to judge security vs accessibility when needed)