When people hear the phrase "estate planning", it’s common for them to think this is a concept or plan for the very wealthy or those with vast holdings like a rich aunt or unknown relative. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
For the majority of us, an estate plan in New Brunswick simply means completing a will and a power of attorney.
A power of attorney allows you to name individuals to make financial and health care decisions for you while you are alive if you become incapacitated and are unable to make them yourself.
A will is a document that sets out how your "estate", which is made up of your possessions and your property, are to be distributed upon your death. This is the easiest way to ensure that your property goes to your chosen beneficiaries in an orderly fashion. If you have children or other dependents, a will also gives you the opportunity to specify who their legal guardians will be – clearly something you do not want to leave to chance.
What happens if I don’t execute power of attorney?
If you do not execute power of attorney in New Brunswick and you become seriously ill, lack mental capacity, and need important decisions to be made while you are still alive, a Court Application might be necessary. This is an expensive and time-consuming process by which to name someone to administer your affairs because you did not do so in advance.
The result of this lack of planning can be devastating for any individual who, while still alive, needs decisions to be made about his or her shelter, nutrition or medical treatments, but has no one legally appointed to do so.
What happens to my estate if I don't have a will?
If you fail to prepare a will in New Brunswick and you pass away and have assets, your estate will have to seek the Court's assistance to distribute your property. Not only will this waste your available resources but your lack of instructions will result in a default to provincial legislation, which will dictate who your beneficiaries will be.
Additionally, without your selection of a guardian for your minor children, the people you would choose to raise your children may never become appointed to assume that role.
Moreover, without your decisions being known, disputes and tension may arise between family members resulting in the destruction of family relations for years to come.
Many people think of a will as something they should only consider doing when they are old. In reality, it is never too soon to have a will. It is true, generally, that as life goes on your worldly possessions increase as do your savings, but that doesn’t take away from the importance of having a will in place early on.
The urgency to have a will in place increases drastically when you have children and dependents, whether a spouse or other family members. Everyone should think about basic estate planning no matter their stage of life. While the process may seem intimidating, it is actually a very straightforward, relatively simple process, which, once completed, will inevitably put your mind at ease.