Question: Is a Will Enough?
THE (SHORT) ANSWER:
Your Will only becomes effective on your death, meaning that the person named executor in your Will cannot deal with your assets while you are still alive. By contrast, there are documents that can be put in place to protect you and your assets during your lifetime. These latter documents are only effective while you are alive, and can be particularly helpful if you lose the mental capacity to make financial or health care decisions for yourself.
One such document is a Power of Attorney, which authorizes one or more people to make decisions for you, or do anything that you could do by an agent, in relation to your financial affairs. For example, your Attorney could access your banking to pay your bills or sign mortgage renewal papers on your behalf.
Another key document is a Representation Agreement, which authorizes one or more people to make health and personal care decisions on your behalf, or to assist you in making those decisions. Health care decisions may include decisions about minor health care (e.g. routine tests) and major health care (e.g. major surgery). Personal care decisions may include decisions about where you live, who you have contact with, and what activities you participate in.
These are just two examples of documents that can be put in place to protect you and your assets during your lifetime. If you have any questions about incapacity planning, a member of our Wills, Estates + Trusts team would be happy to assist you.