Updating or Creating Wills and Personal Directives Covid 19

This week, I met with a couple who recently separated by video conference.  Nearing the conclusion of the meeting, I asked if there were any additional questions from either Party.    One of the spouses asked me a very important question, “what happens if one of us dies from Covid 19?”

That was a great question and my answer got me thinking about other people (including single, common law, married, separated, divorced, and widowed).  My answer, “You need to ensure that you protect yourselves and your loved ones including those that may not be in a position to care for themselves.  In Alberta, this is done through the creation or updating your will, personal directive, and enduring power of attorney.”

Frankly, most of us don’t want to think about either getting ill, or becoming incapacitated or death, however with the current global pandemic, now is a good time to get our affairs in order.

Wills – A will is a legal document that allows you to direct how your property will be distributed after your death, name your personal representative who will represent your estate after your death and carry out the wishes you have stated in your will, name a guardian for any children who are minors at the time of your death.

A properly prepared will allows you to direct where your property will go after your death. A will can help relieve stress from your family and loved ones during a time of grief, and can ensure your last wishes are followed.

A will that is out of date could create problems. Laws change, personal and financial circumstances change, and new financial and estate planning resources may become available. For instance, the wishes written down by a single person could change if they marry and have children. Acquiring or selling property could also change what you want to happen after your death.

Review your will on a regular basis and after major life events (such as marriage, separation, divorce, children, etc.) to make sure it still reflects your wishes.

Personal Directives & Enduring Power of Attorney – In addition to a will, it’s important to think about what you would want to happen if you were no longer able to make personal or financial decisions before you die. A Personal Directive and Enduring Power of Attorney let you choose someone to manage your personal and financial affairs if you are still alive but unable to make decisions (for example, due to an illness or injury).

Alberta does not have living wills but instead has personal directives. If you suffer a serious injury or illness, you may not be able to make decisions. This could be temporary or long term.

If you have a personal directive, the person or people you’ve picked to be your agent would have the legal authority to make personal decisions for you.

Personal directives can be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT) so healthcare providers can easily find your agent or agents if something happens to you.

We encourage everyone to take time to obtain or update their wills, personal directives and enduring power of attorney.  If you need assistance, we are here to help.  You can book a 10 minute no-obligation phone call with one of our expert team to get answers to your questions.  Stay safe.