I’m getting a lot of calls right now from people who are anxious about getting their Wills, Powers of Attorney, and/or Representation Agreements done. They’re worried that Covid-19 and the societal quarantine will prevent them from coming in, giving instructions, and executing the documents in front of a lawyer.
Even before Covid-19, I heard from a lot of people how stressful it is to have an unfinished or nonexistent estate plan hanging over their heads. It doesn’t feel good under normal circumstances, and it sure feels worse when people are genuinely anxious that they will become sick and possibly incapacitated.
So, look, first off, please don’t panic. You don’t need to rush off and get your estate documents done because you’re convinced of your imminent demise. You are very likely to be just fine.
Second, please practice social distancing. Seriously. Don’t go out except if absolutely necessary. This will keep you, and our communities, the safest.
Third, if you’re anxious about this, and want to get your affairs together, we’ve got you. Yes, we can do your Will, your Power of Attorney, and/or your Representation Agreement, remotely. We can “see” you within a day or two. We won’t see you in person, because we’re practicing social distancing. We’ve been doing remote legal work for almost a decade here. We are experts at doing video interviews and in executing documents remotely for clients all over the Province. We are completely cloud-based, and we support a slew of remote and video technologies to serve you, wherever you are. We do FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp video, Zoom, and we’re willing to try anything else you want to throw at us.
We already have virtual offices in Terrace and in Vancouver, as well as our offices in Victoria, however wherever you are, we can do your work. Give us a call.
What are these documents? In layperson terms, a Will is a document that says (with legal, binding authority) what you want done with your property after you pass away. For those of us with kids, it can also state who shall be the guardian(s) of your kids after you pass away. A Will puts someone in charge (the Executor) of executing, after your death, the instructions you have left in your Will. A Will only has power once you’re deceased.
Because a Will only has power after death, you need different documents to give someone authority to manage your property while you’re still alive but not able to manage things yourself. Maybe you’re too sick, or you’ve had an accident, or you’re suffering from a mental illness. There are two documents that you can execute that will put someone else in charge of managing and protecting your property, and even protecting yourself, while you’re alive but not able to do things yourself.
The first document is a Power of Attorney. This gives a person authority to manage your property. They can pay your rent, or mortgage, they could sell your house if need be, they can take care of your bills, your investment account, or move all your belongings into storage, or any number of other things. It is very stress-relieving to know that, if you become sick or incapacitated, there will be someone there to take charge for you.
The second document is a Representation Agreement. This puts someone in charge of making health care decisions about you when you’re not able to yourself. They could consent, or refuse consent, to surgery, or arrange for you to live in a care home, or even make the call about whether to leave you on, or take you off, life support. In a Representation Agreement, you get to say in advance what your wishes are, like whether you want to be taken off life support, or what your wishes are generally about different types of health care treatment and care. It’s a great way of making sure in advance that you’re taken care of exactly the way you want if the time comes when you’re not able to speak or make your wishes known, because you’re too ill.
If you die without a Will, you leave your family or friends behind with a pretty big mess to deal with, right at the time when they’re dealing with their loss of someone they love. Even if you don’t have any significant property or any kids, you should have a Will. If you don’t have one, then nobody can enter your house to pack up your stuff, nobody can access your bank accounts or investment accounts to pay your mortgage or bills, and nobody can make sure your belongings end up in the hands of who you want to have them (that is, except with an expensive and stressful process to obtain a court order. Who wants to go to court, having to spend their own personal money to do so, when they’re mourning the loss of a loved one?).
I strongly recommend to all of my clients that everyone have all three documents, so that you’re completely covered whether you’re still alive but incapacitated, or, you’ve passed on.
If you’d like us to do up your Will, Power of Attorney, and/or Representation Agreement, we will meet with you over video and take your instructions. We will work with you to get them executed as quickly as humanly possible. Give us a call!