Protect Your Legacy
Frequently Asked Questions
A Will is a legal document that sets out how the assets you own will be distributed after your death. A Will appoints the person who will act as executor to manage your estate. If you have minor children, it also names the guardian of your children. Your Will may be changed by you from time to time if necessary and only takes effect when you die. If you do not have a valid Will at the time of your death, you will not be able to control what happens to your assets; they will be distributed in accordance with the laws in effect at that time. Similarly, if you do not have a valid Will, you will not be able to appoint a guardian for your minor children; a guardianship application before the court will be needed to appoint a guardian after your death.
An Enduring Power of Attorney is a legal document that appoints a person to manage and make decisions about your financial or legal affairs. Generally, this document is used to plan for your future incapacity and inability to manage your affairs, but it can also be effective while you are capable.
By way of example, if you become incapable, the person named as your attorney can pay your bills, do your banking, sign legal documents on your behalf, file your tax returns, sell your property and undertake other financial and legal matters. An attorney cannot, however, make or change your Will or make decisions about your health care or personal care.
A Representation Agreement is a legal document that appoints a person to manage and make decisions about your health care and personal care. Generally, this document is used to plan for your future incapacity, but it can also be effective while you are capable to allow someone to assist you in making decisions about your health and personal care. If you become incapable the person named as representative can make decisions for you regarding your living arrangements, diet, activities, medical treatments or surgeries, medications, and your end of life care. In making these decisions, the representative must consider the wishes, values and beliefs that you expressed while you were still capable, whether expressed in writing (in a Letter of Wishes as explained below) or by other means.
A Letter of Wishes for end of life care is sometimes referred to as a “living will”. It is not a legally binding document. Rather, it is an expression of your wishes, values, and beliefs regarding your end of life care. The Letter describes health care treatments that you do not want to receive if you are terminally ill or in an unresponsive state with no prospect of recovery. It will guide your representative when they must make these end of life care decisions for you.