Is My Power of Attorney Valid in All Provinces?

While your Will names an Executor who will handle the administration of your estate after you die, a Power of Attorney is a document that appoints another person to handle your affairs, including making important decisions about your healthcare, finances, and/or property in the event that you are incapacitated or incompetent. You typically write these documents at a time when you have full capacity, to come into effect if you were ever to lose capacity.

We have written extensively on the importance of a Financial Power of Attorney in other blog articles. It is a critical document no matter what your family situation happens to be.

Unlike Wills, which are generally recognized throughout Canada regardless of the province in which they were drafted, the law regarding Powers of Attorney can differ quite a bit between provinces. This means there is no such thing as a “Canadian Power of Attorney for Finances” or “Canadian Power of Attorney for Healthcare.” Instead, these documents may have different names, and different legal requirements for validity, depending on your province of residence. This article will attempt to explain some of these differences, and how LegalWills.ca simplifies the process of creating a new Power of Attorney for every province in which you hold assets.

Powers of Attorney and Healthcare Proxies

As explained in our article about essential estate planning documents, a Financial Power of Attorney gives someone else authority to make decisions about things like whether to sell your home, manage your investments, pay your bills, and file your taxes on your behalf while you are incapacitated. Depending on how it is drafted, a Power of Attorney can be specific, for example limited to certain property (like your home or investment portfolio), or general, permitting complete control over your finances.

Advance Directives
Credit: 123RF

Generally a Power of Attorney written to cover a specific asset is put in place when you are unavailable rather than incapacitated. For example, if you are travelling overseas and you need somebody to sell your car on your behalf, you can do this with a specific Power of Attorney. For the purposes of estate planning, a Power of Attorney is usually a “General” Power of Attorney which says “if I was to ever lose capacity, I would like this person to take control of my financial affairs for me.”

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Understanding the words used in your Will

Are you thinking of writing a Will? Have you perhaps heard of terms like “Executor”, “Bequest”, “Living Will” and are now worried that the process of writing your Will may be beyond you? You may be wondering whether it is possible to write a Will without understanding all of these legal expressions. After all, that’s why many people hire a lawyer to prepare the document for them.

You may be surprised to learn that you really don’t need to understand any of these legal words in order to use a service like LegalWills.ca. However, the words may appear in your final Will, and in that context they will make sense to you. We also explain some of the key definitions when you are working through the service. But you may be interested to learn exactly what some of these words actually mean.

Perhaps you wrote your Will with a lawyer. You have had it witnessed and now it’s stored at your lawyer’s office but you still have no idea what it says. Don’t worry, this isn’t an uncommon situation. Many people go through the whole task of writing a Will and signing it when they don’t fully understand what it says.

Unfortunately in today’s legal world, estate attorneys don’t always have sufficient time to go over every detail and word of a Will. This is partly because their time costs money, but also because writing a Will is an everyday common practice to them. Therefore, they often neglect to go over the basics with their clients. An experienced and understanding estate attorney should always be willing to go over every detail of your Will and explain any confusing language so that you feel comfortable when signing it. However, the legal environment can be intimidating and attorneys may assume that you understand the legal terms when in fact you don’t.

Understanding legal words in the Will

At LegalWills.ca we almost fall into the same pattern ourselves when we talk to customers about the “Executor” and the “Beneficiaries”. We forget that some people may be hearing these words for the first time. They are words that are rarely, if ever, used outside of the context of writing a Will.

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Every document you need – how to write it, and how much it costs.

We live in unprecedented times. We have a COVID-19 global pandemic. People are being told to self-isolate. Others are being placed in quarantine.

It’s a worrying situation that does not appear to be abating.

It may be time to pause and to think about which documents you should have in place. If COVID-19 goes away, and we all hope it does, these documents are still important, and will last you for the rest of your life. Hopefully that will be another 50 years or more. The documents may need to be updated as your circumstances change, but it is important to have them in place.

In this article we will describe a complete list of documents that you should put in place. We will explain how to create one, how much it costs, and the legal formalities for each.

Estate planning documents
Your important documents
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Canadian estate planning quiz


Explanation of the answers

This was a tough quiz covering estate planning in Canada. In this article we will provide you with some explanations for our answers.

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Using an Estate planning lawyer? Here are some questions to ask…

Wondering whether our service is right for you? considering using an estate planning lawyer?

We know that 62 percent of Canadians don’t have a Will in place. A further 12 percent have a Will, but it’s out of date.

Even with that harrowing stat, the legal community still try to warn people against preparing their own Will. Claiming that you can only obtain a quality Last Will and Testament from an estate planning lawyer. Any approach to writing your own Will is going to result in pain for your family and loved ones.

In truth, there was some merit in this argument about 20 years ago when the only do-it-yourself Will writing options were a blank piece of paper, or a blank form Will kit. Both approaches are a disaster waiting to happen, and many estates went through protracted legal battles to settle an ambiguous instruction. Or worse, a Will was simply thrown out because it wasn’t signed correctly.

Thankfully in the years since LegalWills.ca came online in 2001, the online interactive Will writing services have come a long way. Much like tax preparation software that faced a similar backlash from tax preparing accountants, the use of online interactive Will writing services has grown year by year.

Will writing office

Online Will writing services have also improved to a point that for 99 percent of people, the final Will document is indistinguishable from a Will created by an estate planning lawyer. We know this because we use the exact same software used by any estate planning lawyer in Canada. We’ve just give you direct access to it.

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Wills for Blended families and stepfamilies

Wills for Blended families

First a definition;

stepfamily or blended family is a family where at least one parent has children, from a previous relationship, that are not genetically related to the other parent. Either one or both parents may have children from a previous relationship. Children from a stepfamily may live with one biological parent, or they may live with each biological parent for a period of time.

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The Living Will: where does it fit in your estate plan?

Everybody needs a Last Will and Testament, but does everybody need a Canadian Living Will? We are asked this question a lot, and the answer is not always clear. Everybody should prepare a Living Will, but not every Living Will is going to be used. Most people will never find themselves in a situation where they need a Living Will, but if you are ever in that situation, it is a vital document, but by then it is too late.

 

According to a 2014 Harris/Decima poll, although nearly all Canadians (96%) believe it is important to have a conversation Continue reading

Lawyers and their egregious charges

CBC’s Marketplace recently featured a special – trying to find the most shocking fees charged by lawyers in Canada.

 

The banks and airlines featured prevalently in the discussion, but so did lawyers. People seemed to be incensed by the nickel-and-diming billing practices and when it came to voting for the 5 most egregious fees, one particular lawyer was included.

One of the most ridiculous submissions takes nickel-and-diming to a new level. One man complained of being charged precise amounts for every office supply his lawyer used.

“[I was] charged separately for staples ($0.07 each) and paperclips ($0.12 each) on my legal bill for doing up a will.”

It’s important to read this carefully. The lawyer wasn’t charging for the staples and paperclips in the Will, no, they were charging for the staples and paperclips used on the bill that was prepared for creating the Will !!

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