Estate Planning in Alberta
Covering all that goes into planning your estate can seem overwhelming.
That’s why it’s smart to sit down with an Edmonton wills and estates lawyer to go over all your questions. You should know that Safi Law Group is here to assist with all aspects of estate planning, administration and litigation.
What Is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is the process of arranging what will happen to your estate and assets after your passing or when you are incapacitated. This is your opportunity to clearly state your intentions to avoid any confusion among your beneficiaries that could lead to estate litigation.
A typical estate plan consists of a will, an enduring power of attorney and a personal directive. Read more to find out what each one is designed to accomplish!
What Is a Will?
A will is a legal document that allows you to state your wishes for how your assets and property will be distributed following your death. A will also allow you to choose a personal representative (formerly known as an executor) to manage your estate. Further, a will allows you to appoint a guardian for minor children.
You must be of sound mind and full mental capacity when signing a will for it to be valid.
Additionally, a will requires your signature and the signatures of two present witnesses to be valid.
What Is a Holographic Will? Is It Legal in Alberta?
A holographic will is a will that is wholly in the deceased’s own handwriting and signed by the deceased without the presence or signature of a witness or any other formality. A holographic will is considered legal and valid in Alberta as long as it clearly states intentions regarding property and gifts.
What Is an Enduring Power of Attorney?
An enduring power of attorney (EPA) is a legal document that gives another person the authority to act on your behalf regarding financial affairs while you are still alive but are unable to make decisions. An EPA document must be signed, dated and witnessed to be valid.
This document does not extend to decisions regarding your personal care.
What Is the Difference Between a Power of Attorney and an Enduring Power of Attorney?
While closely related, the terms are not interchangeable.
A general power of attorney gives your attorney authority over your finances and property while you are at full mental capacity. The agreement ends when you become mentally incapable of managing your affairs.
By contrast, an enduring power of attorney enables your representative to continue acting on your behalf if you become mentally incapable of managing finances.
What Is the Difference Between an Immediate and Springing Power of Attorney?
An immediate power of attorney becomes effective as soon as the document has been signed. That means that the person you’ve chosen can begin acting on your behalf immediately. This document is typically used in cases where you might be out of the country for an extended period of time and need someone to be able to sign certain documents on your behalf.
A springing power of attorney becomes effective as soon as you become incapacitated. This document is more frequently used in estate planning, where you may need someone to be able to make financial decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them due to deteriorated mental capacity.
What Is a Personal Directive?
A personal directive gives another person the right to make non-financial decisions on your behalf when you have lost the capacity to make those decisions. This typically includes decisions related to things like your care, housing or medical treatments.
A personal directive must be written, signed, dated and witnessed in order to be legally binding in Alberta. A personal directive takes the place of what might be referred to as a “living will” in another jurisdiction.
This type of document could help to avoid the need for someone to apply for adult guardianship.
An advance health care directive outlines specific wishes surrounding medical care in the event that you are incapacitated. It can cover your wishes regarding life-sustaining efforts and medical treatments.
You can register your personal directive with the Government of Alberta (Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee). Registering your personal directive ensures that medical staff will be aware of its existence and will be able to contact your chosen agent when needed.
What Other Tools Can Be Used When Planning an Estate?
It’s important to hire an estate lawyer to assist with estate planning because no two estates are the same. In addition to the three usual estate planning documents, your estate may require the use of joint tenancies, beneficiary designations and trusts to achieve the desired outcome. Do not leave anything to chance. Contact our office now to book an appointment to finalize your estate plan.
What Other Considerations Are Relevant to Estate Planning?
Every aspect of your personal and business assets should be considered when planning your estate.
This includes handling of taxes, insurance and business ownership. For a more complex estate, it is not uncommon for your lawyer, accountant and financial advisor to work as a team on your estate plan.
How Much Does Estate Planning Cost?
A flat rate applies when you sit down to have a basic estate planning package drafted by a lawyer. However, the complexity of your estate could impact the full cost.
It is customary for hourly rates to apply for large or complex estates. Wishes to have specific directives added into an estate plan can also impact the cost.
We’ll be happy to discuss our fees with you when you reach out to Safi Law Group using our Contact Us page or (780) 760-7234.
Get Help with Estate Planning in Alberta
Important decisions need to be made when planning your estate.
Safi Law Group is here to help you get it all on file to create peace of mind for you and your loved ones.
Reach out for a consultation using our Contact Us page or call (780) 760-7234.
We’re here to answer all of your questions and help you secure the future of your estate.
Planning your estate is important at all stages of life, even in your younger adult years. Contact Safi Law Group today to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your options. We'll help to put your plan in place, and give yourself the peace of mind knowing your assets are to be distributed based on your wishes.