There is more to estate planning than a will – Do you have a POA and RA?

"Most people know that a Will is a legal document that sets out who you want to inherit your assets after death," says Lesley Russell, a Wills and Estate lawyer at GBC Law, "but many people neglect to prepare for a time when they may be incapable of making important decisions, whether through illness or accident, while they're still alive."

When clients visit GBC Law for the purposes of making a Will, Lesley always includes a discussion about personal planning documents such as Powers of Attorney (POAs) and Representation Agreements (RAs).

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"A POA is like a good insurance policy," Lesley explains. "You should have one, but hope you never need it. It gives those people you choose the legal authority to deal with your financial matters.  Without a POA, no one, not even your spouse, can sign legal documents on your behalf."

Similarly, a Representation Agreement is a legal document that gives your representative the legal authority to help you with personal and health care issues in the event you need temporary or ongoing assistance with managing your affairs.

"Both the POA and the RA are very important for decisions that need to be made while you are still alive," says Lesley. "A Will is important to make sure your wishes are known on death, but the POA and RA deal with helping and advocating for you should you become incapacitated."

Lesley and her colleagues at GBC Law are experienced in all aspects of estate and personal planning and take the time to explain the documents to clients in easy-to-understand language.

"When clients come in to prepare a Will," Lesley says, "we talk about their family and its history, as well as their assets, and how they want to distribute those assets.”

The discussion surrounding the preparation of a Will (who will be the Executor, what assets will pass through their estate—as opposed to joint assets—and what their wishes are) often leads into a conversation about personal planning documents. 

“These discussions help our clients understand the nuances and possibilities of estate and personal planning so that together, we can create a plan suitable to their personal situation,” Lesley says.

For more information on GBC Law call 604-437-0461, visit their website, send them an email, or visit their offices at 485-6400 Roberts Street, Burnaby. You will also find GBC Law on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

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