For seniors in Alberta, a little basic estate planning can bring peace of mind that your own independence and the needs of loved ones are protected for the future.
The provincial government recommends that all Alberta residents have some basic estate planning in place.
Many people leave this until later in life. In many ways, it is never too early to start but it can be too late.
The estate planning and elder law services from Vest Estate Lawyers in Calgary are designed to protect your rights as well as the needs of loved ones in the years ahead.
Legally enforceable wills
Without a will, your loved ones may be left unclear as to your intentions with your assets, and it may require the intervention of the Alberta courts to distribute them after you die.
Creating a legally enforceable will keeps you in control of who benefits from your assets, avoids unnecessary disputes among loved ones, and ensures that your final wishes are carried out.
Power of attorney documents
What would happen if you suddenly (or gradually) lost the physical capacity to go to the bank or the mental capacity to make financial decisions?
A power of attorney document allows you to nominate a trusted representative(s) to access your accounts/finances and carry out financial transactions for you.
An enduring power of attorney takes these powers a step further, allowing you to nominate someone to make financial/property decisions on your behalf if you are mentally incapable of doing do so.
Personal directives (“living wills”)
Your medical and personal needs in later life are likely to take up more of your thoughts and concerns as you grow older.
A personal directive (“living will”) helps you plan for this. With this document, you can outline your wishes so that you don’t leave loved ones with the considerable burden of having to make decisions regarding medical treatment, aged care, and end-of-life matters on your behalf.
Within the personal directive, you can nominate a trusted person to carry out your wishes if you cannot communicate them yourself.
Setting up estate trusts
Estate trusts can be smart, tax-effective tools for passing on assets to your intended beneficiaries at the best time to do so.
Revocable and irrevocable trusts can be set up in such a way to carry out your wishes when you die while also keeping you in control, legally minimizing taxes, avoiding probate for loved ones, and maintaining flexibility for changes to be made if necessary.
Adult guardianship and trusteeship
Without a personal directive or power of attorney in place, if you lose the capacity to communicate your wishes, one of your family members may need to apply to the court to make financial, personal or medical decisions on your behalf.
This is called adult guardianship (for personal matters) or trusteeship (for financial matters) and our estate planning lawyers can help facilitate these processes.
Arranging a capacity assessment report
To apply for adult guardianship or trusteeship, you will require a professional capacity assessment report of the individual in question.
Our lawyers will help you arrange this through an authorized medical professional (which may be the family doctor, a qualified psychologist/psychiatrist or another individual) and submit the completed paperwork to the court.
Beyond estate planning: protection from elder abuse in Calgary
As individuals age, they become more vulnerable to abuse. This can take many forms – from physical or sexual abuse to psychological and financial abuse.
Unfortunately, it is more common than we would want to imagine – and it even occurs within families.
At Vest Estate Lawyers, we do more than help families create the right documents for their futures. We are also accomplished at helping protect elders from abuse from their own family members or other individuals.
Elder Financial abuse
Elders are more susceptible to theft, fraud and financial scams, either face to face, over the phone, or online.
The removal of financial decision-making power from an elder while still competent is also a type of financial abuse sometimes committed within the family.
Psychological and emotional abuse
Psychological and emotional abuse of elders may occur in the following ways:
- Withholding affection (for manipulative purposes)
- Refusing access to grandchildren
- Denying privacy
- Controlling activities
- Treating elders like children
- Forcing elders to do degrading things
- Attacking self-esteem
- Intentionally causing fear or distress
Whether you want to report elder abuse, protect yourself against it or simply start putting an estate plan together, the legal team at Vest Estate Lawyers in Calgary can help.
You will find us approachable, compassionate and insightful. We can explain what your legal options are, starting with a confidential one-on-one consultation.