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Older Canadians may face capacity challenges less common among forebears

In 2014 life expectancy in Canada was the sixth highest in the world. According to the World Health Organization, men could expect to live to age 80 and women could expect to live to age 83. By comparison, in 1920 the expected ages were 59 and 61 respectively. Much has changed, in other words.

While improvements in medicine and public health have led to longer lives, another reality has emerged: elder Canadians may be more likely than their forebears to experience age-related mental incapacity. That being said, most Canadians have not assigned powers of attorney for property or personal care, leaving open the possibility of confusion, delay and conflict among family members in the event of incapacity.

With incapacity as a concern, it is important to understand that a comprehensive estate plan may include multiple tools for making your wishes known, preserving your wealth and distributing your assets. And power of attorney is one of those tools.

As we've discussed before, you can use a power of attorney for property to name someone you trust to handle your financial interests in the event of incapacity, and a power of attorney for personal care can be used to name someone you trust to make decisions related to your medical care and living arrangements.

By not assigning powers of attorney, you run the risk of leaving control of your life and property to chance -- or to strangers. Your family may also be forced to apply for guardianship, which requires court proceedings.

At Hagel Lawfirm, we provide comprehensive estate planning services, including the creation of wills, trusts and powers of attorney. As estate litigators, we know the ways in which inadequate planning can lead to conflict and high costs for families, and we help people in Mississauga and throughout the GTA plan for the future. Please see our overview of powers of attorney to learn more.

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