When you or someone you know is diagnosed with an illness, though it may be a tough topic to broach, it’s essential to start planning for the future. Legal, medical and financial affairs are not things to be taken lightly and when the time comes, it’s important to make sure that the right wishes are carried out. Here are some keys to making sure that your financial and legal decisions are handled appropriately.
1. Create a Power of Attorney
When you’re not able to make your own decisions, you want someone responsible to be in charge. A power of attorney for property is a legal document that validates and empowers your substitute decision maker regarding your property and assets. Though you can give verbal directions, a power of attorney will legally ensure that your exact wishes are followed and respected.
In addition to a power of attorney for property, you should have a power of attorney for healthcare. A legal document that entrusts your medical decisions (healthcare, nutrition, shelter, clothing, hygiene and safety) to a trusted substitute decision maker.
2. Create a Will and Living Will
If you have not created a will, now is the time to do so. The absence of a will can lead to your property being passed on to your family through Ontario’s Succession Law Act. If you have children, they will have to post a bond to accept property. The creation of a will avoids these issues and enables your property to be distrubted according to your wishes. If possible, visit a lawyer to create a will and dictate where you would like your property distributed.
Living wills determine the type of care you wish to receive if you eventually are unable to communicate your wishes. The creation of a living will helps spare your loved ones from making difficult medical decisions on your behalf. Again, if possible, visit a lawyer to help create your living will.
3. Review Your Documents
Below are some important documents that will need to be readily accessible and current:
Will - If you have a will review it and make updates if necessary. If possible, meet with a lawyer and make sure that all of your bases are covered and that it comprehensive.
Bank Information - Check that all of your bank information is in order and that your designate knows where to access it. When your bank information is readily available, it makes it much easier someone working on your behalf to access required funds.
Mortgages, Loans and Investments - Make sure that all of your outstanding loans and depts are accounted for. In addition, if you have any investments or portfolio needs, they should be clearly delineated and in order.
Insurance Policies - If you have life insurance, your policy information should be accessible to necessary parties. In addition, lay out steps to handle your other types of insurance (car, house etc).
Documents for real estate and other assets - You don’t want any assets to go unnoticed or be forgotten. Have a list of your large assets and how you want them to be handled if you are no longer able to handle them yourself.
Pension - In some cases, your pension can be passed on to a surviving spouse. Have your pension information available for your power of attorney designate. For more information visit the Government of Canada's website regarding survivor’s pensions.
Always make sure that you're prepared for the future. Follow these steps and visit a professional for advice regarding legal documents. If you have more questions about preparing your power of attorney and wills, contact us at Qualicare. If someone you know has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and is looking for more information regarding power of attorney, download our ebook: