So, your last will and testament is made out.
But did you prepare a Power of Attorney to appoint someone? Doing so is an even more important way to ensure someone can handle your affairs if you become mentally incapacitated due to dementia, injury or illness.
“While the person is living, this document gives someone the authority to make financial and legal decisions on behalf of that person,” explains Gurdeep Sidhu, a Notary Public in Campbell River.
Your will is a separate document
Gurdeep continues to be surprised at how many people don’t have a Power of Attorney in place.
“It is such an important document and many times people overlook it,” he says. Some of the usual misconceptions are, ‘We might have a will and that’s all we need,’ ‘I don’t have many assets, so I don’t need it,’ or ‘I am still young and will think about it when I am older.’
“But injuries or illness can happen anytime to anyone,” says Gurdeep.
Why wait until the last minute?
Gurdeep has clients or their families contact him in a panic when injury or illness appears. “Sudden injury or illness – should we be surprised? They don’t tend to give advance notice. And dealing with it at that time is difficult for a person, if not impossible in severe cases,” he says.
“Calling your Notary or Lawyer when a family member is in the hospital hooked up to machines, or dulled with medication? Hmm! You don’t want family to have to do that … The complex legal issues are hard even when someone is well. We can imagine a person’s mental ability when they are ill or injured.”
Avoid lengthy court involvement
Gurdeep describes a scenario: “It could be a couple has been together a long time and jointly own a house. If one of them becomes mentally incapacitated and they don’t have Power of Attorney, the other spouse can’t sell the house on his or her own. Then, families end up going through a court application to have the court appoint someone as a Representative.
“This process can be complex, lengthy and costly,” he says. “It’s also a good idea to appoint more than one person, in case the first person can no longer serve in that capacity.”
Contact your lawyer or notary public
Gurdeep believes strongly in the importance of this issue, and asks that people “please take care of it.” He encourages anyone without a Power of Attorney to contact the Notary Public or Lawyer of your choice. If you wish to reach Gurdeep’s office, you can call 250-287-3445 or visit him at #101-160 10th Avenue.