Albertans often shy away from thoughts of their own mortality, but it is never too soon to consider estate planning. As soon as an individual starts earning an income, it is advisable to draft a will. A will is just one aspect of estate planning.
Even young adults in their 20s can lose their lives in accidents or suffer debilitating injuries that render them incapable of dealing with financial and health decisions. Establishing powers of attorney as part of estate planning can ensure that designated, trustworthy individuals will be there to handle matters on behalf of an incapacitated person. A financial power of attorney can manage day-to-day affairs such as opening mail, paying bills and filing tax returns. He or she can also deal with banking, lawyers and accountants. The designated power of attorney can even vote on behalf of the debilitated person and take charge of looking after pets.
Similarly, the same, or another person can be designated to be the health care power of attorney. The chosen person will have the power to make decisions about medical treatment in the event that the testator is unable to communicate his or her wishes. Although the possibility of becoming unconscious, terminally ill, brain dead or otherwise unable to communicate is certainly disturbing, including a living will and designating a trusted financial power of attorney can provide peace of mind.
Many people in Alberta put these matters on the back burner because the prospect might be daunting. However, no one needs to establish a will and other estate plans without the guidance and advice of an experienced estate planning lawyer. Skilled legal counsel can assess the unique circumstances of the client and explain the different options.