The health-related consequences of Covid-19 have prompted many to contemplate the importance of estate planning.

While creating and updating a will is an essential part of preparing for when we are no longer here, an area often overlooked is how things will be managed while we are alive but unable to provide direction.

Without properly documented instructions, there may be the potential for family disputes during stressful times. In some cases, a family may have to apply to the courts or have someone appointed as guardian to manage both personal care and property — a potentially lengthy and costly process.

As such, the following should be considered in addition to your will:

Power of Attorney for Personal Care and Property — Do you have a plan in place to support you in the event you are unable to speak for yourself? One of the most important aspects of planning for incapacity is to identify substitute decision makers you trust to make financial and/or healthcare decisions on your behalf. They are often called an “attorney.” Having this document in place generally allows the attorney(s) to make decisions if you cannot act for yourself. Generally, you are able to appoint a different attorney for Power of Attorney for Personal Care and Power of Attorney for Property.

Advanced Directive — What kind of care would you want to receive if you were unable to communicate? Our current crisis has led to the question of whether an individual would want to use a ventilator for life support. In provinces where applicable, this document provides specific medical or lifestyle decisions.

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2020 newsletter, "Challenging the Trend." Click here to view.

The views expressed are those of Wes Ashton, Director of Growth Strategy and Portfolio Manager, and not necessarily those of Harbourfront Wealth Management Inc., a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund.

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