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Future planning should not wait until capacity wanes

Many people consider estate planning to exclusively involve the management of their assets after passing away, but there is more to it than just this. It also involves planning for who can make decisions on an individual's behalf if they no longer have the capacity to do so. It is important that Ontario adults and their loved ones have serious conversations about what may happen in a variety of situations, not only in the event of a death.

In Ontario, a power of attorney can be named to make decisions for an individual who no longer has the capacity to do so. Powers of attorney can be named to manage health decisions as well as financial matters. There are many options available to grantors: they may grant more than one person power of attorney, they may limit or expant the scope of their decision-making power, or even restrict the duration of time during which their power of attorney decision is valid.

Once a person passes away, powers of attorney no longer have control of any assets or decisions. At this point, the will designates who will receive which assets as well as who will execute the will. This can be a challenge for many Canadian families, especially as 51% of adults in the country admit they do not have a will to guide this process.

It is common for people to only consider their plans for the future of their estate and care when they notice their health failing, or when their capacity may be in question. Waiting until this point could make it difficult to create a legally binding will in time. Those who find themselves in a difficult situation with regard to assigning guardianship or executing a will should work with an Ontario lawyer to understand their options.

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