Wills and Estates — Planning for the Future
It is important to appoint someone to look after your property and make decisions about your care, in the event you become incapacitated during your lifetime (through Powers of Attorney), and to distribute your estate according to your wishes after your death (through a Will).
Power of Attorney for Property and Power of Attorney for Personal Care
To arrange for a trusted person to manage your financial affairs, you will be required to sign a Power of Attorney for Property. To arrange for a trusted person to make decisions about your care, when you cannot do so yourself, you will be required to sign a Power of Attorney for Personal Care, which is sometimes also called a Living Will.
Last Will and Testament
You will need a Last Will and Testament, usually abbreviated and called a “Will.” In your Will, you will appoint a trusted person to carry out the instructions given in your Will regarding your estate, on your death. You may have responsibility for young children or a partner, or potential responsibility to care for an aging parent or relative.
Wills and powers of attorney cannot be changed once a person becomes incapacitated, and so it is especially important for senior family members to review powers of attorney and wills to make sure they reflect the current law and their own intentions. You should be sure to review your will if:
- You change your name, or anyone mentioned in your will changes theirs;
- An executor dies or becomes unsuitable to act due to age, ill-health, etc.;
- You have left someone specific property which you later dispose of, or which changes in nature (for example, savings at one bank which you later move to another bank);
- You separate, divorce, remarry, have children, or you begin living with someone in a relationship that resembles marriage;
- The value of your estate increases or decreases significantly; and
- You make specific gifts to an individual who dies before you do.
Once you sign your Will, you can only change it by making a new document called a “Codicil” or by making an entirely new will. If you wish at any time to revoke or alter your Will you should contact a lawyer to ensure that the required legal formalities are followed – otherwise your wishes may not take effect.
Further information about wills and powers of attorney