BRINGING IT BACK TO BASICS
On the subject of Wills, Estates and Powers of Attorney, there are many commonly asked questions by individuals when thinking about preparing these types of documents. Here are a few:
What is the difference between a Will and a Power of Attorney?
A Will is a written document which speaks from the date of your death and in it you distribute your assets to those persons known as beneficiaries whom you want to receive all your worldly goods.
A Power of Attorney is a document which names one or more individuals you have chosen to act on your behalf (Attorney), while you are alive but incapable of managing your own affairs. There are two types of Power of Attorney, one for Property (bank accounts, investments, real estate) and one for Personal Care (medical, care and end of life decisions).
What does “Probate” mean?
The type of assets that you own when you die will determine whether your Estate Trustee needs to apply for a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee with a Will formally known as “Probate” or not. The Estate Administration Tax (“probate fees”) is payable. This is a “hot” topic. The Estate Trustee may obtain a Certificate to deal with most financial institutions and with your real estate. Assets such as shares in a closely held private corporation may not require a Certificate. You may want to think about Dual Wills.
Where do I leave my Will and Powers of Attorney for safekeeping?
You can keep the original documents. It is important that you put them in a safe place so that they are not lost or mislaid. Let your Estate Trustee and/or those named in the Powers of Attorney, know where those documents are stored. If you have used a lawyer to prepare them he/she may keep them at your request.
The lawyer may have you sign a Direction with the terms under which he/she can release those documents such as presentation of a letter from a Doctor attesting to your incapacity or a Death Certificate.
Mary Anne Shaw, B.A., LL.B. BIO Mary Anne Shaw is an established lawyer whose law practice focuses on Wills and Estates, Residential Real Estate and Family Law. Mary Anne Shaw is very active in the community, and has served on many boards and foundations in the not-for-profit arts and health sectors. She provides personal service and practical solutions.