Four Key Documents Everyone Should Have

Last Will and Testament IconA Will is not the only thing you need to ensure that your finances are in order.
Here are four key documents everyone should have.

A Will is a legal document that sets out how you intend your estate to be handled after your death, a declaration by which you name a person, or persons (naming an Executor), to manage your estate and provide for the transfer of your property.  Everyone over the age of majority (18 in Saskatchewan) who has assets or dependents should have a will.  Not having a Will can create considerable hardship for family, friends and business partners.  Without a Will, your property may not be left to the people or charitable organizations you want to inherit it.  You can direct funds from your estate by making a charitable bequest to areas of ministry within the Catholic Church through the Ukrainian Catholic Foundation of Saskatchewan Corporation (UCFSASK).

A power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to give someone else authority to act on your behalf, this person, or persons, acts as your legal representative.  The Power of Attorney for Property allows your attorney to make decisions for you during your lifetime, even if you become mentally incapable.  Your Power of Attorney (POA) can buy or sell property, enter into or defend a lawsuit, make investments and purchase things for you, and any and all financial decisions.  They can do everything except make a will for you or change your existing will.  It is important to remember that a Power of Attorney is valid as soon as it is written.  If it is for the purpose of managing your affairs if you become incompetent in the future, it is best to keep the original with your lawyer or in a safety deposit box.

A Power of Attorney for Personal Care may be the same or a different person, or persons, to the Power of Attorney for your property.  The POA for Personal Care can be more than one person, but they must make all decisions jointly, unless you appoint them “jointly and severally”, which means either or both can make a decision.  This signed document is also for during your life time, taking care of your personal decisions such as medical treatment, housing, food, hygiene, clothing and safety.  A POA for Personal Care only comes into effect if you have become incapable of making your own decisions.  A personal attorney cannot be given the power to make health care decisions for you.  This must be done by making a health care directive.

A Health Care Directive tells others how you would like to be treated if you lose your capacity to make decisions about health care.  This directive gives your doctor or other health care provider directions about what kind of measure are acceptable to you when you can no longer communicate what you want.  To make a directive you must be at least 16 years of age and capable of making health care decisions.  The best time to make a Health Care Directive is when you are in good health, planning ahead to a time when you may not longer be able to make decisions for yourself.  A directive will take effect when you become incapable of making or communicating your health care decisions.  A directive is not and cannot permit active euthanasia or assisted suicide.


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