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Powers of Attorney and Estate Trustees

Estate planning involves many different considerations. Two of the biggest ones are what to do while you are alive and cannot make decisions, and who will look after your affairs after you have passed.

For the first consideration, many people choose to appoint a power of attorney. This designation is someone who acts on your behalf while you are alive, but incapacitated. He or she can will primarily look after your financial interests and your health interests.

When you appoint someone in this role, it’s important that you choose someone you can trust will be able to operate in this role. It’s crucial that he or she understands what you would like to do in the event you become unable to make decisions in the future.

Without having a power of attorney place, family members may fight with each other over how best to take care of you. Without having a designated person or persons to have a final say, arguments may head to court to be resolved.

In the event of your passing, the role of the power of attorney essentially ends, as outlined on the MoneySense.ca website. In its place is the estate trustee. This person will be responsible for administering your estate. What this means is that certain properties you may own, such as bank accounts, will require a valid will presented to the bank to give the estate trustee access. For example, if certain debts need to be paid off before beneficiaries receive their heritance, the estate trustee would need to access your accounts to figure out how best to settle any outstanding debts.

The person you choose for this designation should also be someone you trust can handle the responsibility. Also, it’s a good idea to discuss the provisions of your will with him, her or them so if there is any confusion, or questions that need answering, you can provide clarity. It’s also best advised to consult with an experienced estates lawyer about these roles. He or she will be able to answer any questions you may have about the powers you can give such an individual, the duration of these powers, and any other legalities that may come with the roles.

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