We all agree that we should be nice to our family and friends, right?

Well, the nicest thing you can do for your friends or family is to execute a valid Will, appoint an Attorney for property and for personal care, and keep a comprehensive list of your assets and debts. In other words, be organized. If you do not do it, then your family or friend will have to try to scramble to do it once you are gone. You may end up paying more to the Government than you should.

Estate Administration does not have to be a difficult task. Many times, the most difficult part of administering someone's estate is figuring out where the assets are or whether you have managed to gather up all of the proper information. There is nothing worse that paying life insurance premiums for years and leaving the pay-out with the life insurance company. If your Estate Trustee does not know about the policy, it may never get cashed in. It just takes a bit of planning to avoid this.

We will work with you to ensure that your Estate is organized and that you have a mechanism in place to keep your information up to date.


Who should you appoint as your Estate Trustee

It is important to put some thought into appointing your Estate Trustee (formerly Executor(rix))? You should base your decision on factors such as:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Time & availability
  • Financial aptitude
  • Potential conflict of interest
  • Likely emotional state

You may also want to revisit your choice every 3 to 5 years or when there is a significant life event eg. death, divorce, etc.

You can appoint an individual or Trust company. You can appoint just one person or a number of people to act together. Multiple Estate Trustees can be appointed either jointly or jointly and severally. If appointed jointly, both Estate Trustees would have to act together and two signatures would be required on all documents. If appointed jointly and severally, then you are indicating that you want either one OR the other to act and sign documents. You can also appoint your lawyer if you are more comfortable with that.

Your Estate Trustee will be responsible to:

  • Make funeral arrangements
  • Inventory and insure assets
  • Pay debts
  • File for probate (if necessary)
  • Appraise and sell assets
  • File income tax returns
  • Deal with potential challenges to the Will
  • Obtain a Canada Revenue Agency clearance certificate
  • Account to beneficiaries
  • Distribute assets to beneficiaries

There are other issues such as:

  • Testamentary Trusts or Inter Vivos Trusts;
  • Special Bequests
  • Charitable Donations etc.
  • Primary and Secondary Wills.

These issues can be discussed in further detail, as required.


While your Will sets out your wishes for after your death, you may not always be able to take care of your affairs while you are still alive. There may be a host of reasons why you will need someone to look after your affairs while you are still alive but cannot conduct your own business eg. become incapable, are out of the country etc.

This is the purpose of a Power of Attorney for Property. You can appoint someone to have the same legal powers that you have in the event of your incapacity. With this document in hand, your attorney can:

  • access your bank accounts
  • pay your bills or your mortgage
  • keep your credit rating in good standing
  • Sign any document that you can legally sign.

The only document they cannot alter is your Will.

Again, factors to consider when choosing your attorney are:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Time & availability
  • Financial aptitude
  • Potential conflict of interest
  • Likely emotional state

Your Attorney for Property does not have to be the same person as your Estate Trustee. However, they can be same person.

Immediately upon your death, your Power of Attorney ceases to have any legal status and the terms of your Will will take over.

Powers of Attorney for Personal Care will be relied on by hospital staff, doctors, and personal health care providers. Upon presentation of a properly executed Power of Attorney for Personal Care, whomever you have appointed will be able to give proper direction to your doctors and health care providers and make decisions with respect to your care and medical treatment.

Again, your Attorney for Personal Care can be a different person than your Attorney for Property. Often, people will appoint the "money person" to deal with the property issues but would not want the "money person" making care decisions. They wish to leave that task to their dear lifelong friend instead.

This is a very powerful document that can bring comfort at a difficult time. Having your wishes written down while you are still capable brings comfort to the appointed person when faced with difficult decisions.

If you wish to proceed with your Estate Documents, please reach out to us by email or telephone and we will be happy to discuss the process with you.