Estate planning toolkit

A Will on its own is often not enough.

In this article, Raymond Pecotic discusses some very important, yet often overlooked, estate planning considerations, what they are and what they mean.

Enduring power of attorney (EPA)

An EPA is a legal document by which you appoint a trusted person or persons (an enduring attorney) to make financial and property decisions on your behalf. Two situations in which an executed EPA are handy are :

When you are physically unable to attend to your financial or property-related affairs. For example, you may be out of the country and require someone to pay your bills and expenses and manage your investments.

If for any reason you lose legal capacity (i.e. the ability to understand and enter into formal agreements) and can no longer make financial or property-related decisions yourself. Unlike a “regular” power of attorney, an EPA will continue even after you lose legal capacity.

Enduring power of guardianship (EPG )

An EPG is a legal document by which you appoint someone (an enduring guardian) to make personal, lifestyle or treatment decisions on your behalf in the event you become unable to make such decisions yourself. An EPG comes into effect if you are unable to make reasonable judgements with respect to yourself. For example, if you enter into a coma because of an accident, the EPG would provide authority to your enduring guardian to make decisions about where you live, the support services you have access to and medical treatment.

Advanced health directives (AHD )

This provides some degree of control in the decisions regarding your medical and health care treatment, including medical, surgical, dental, palliative care and life-sustaining measures. An AHD comes into effect if you are unable to make reasonable judgments about your medical care treatment at the time the treatment is required.

Estate planning tips

1. If you are over 18 and have full legal capacity consider executing an EPA, EPG and /or an AHD.

2. When appointing an attorney or guardian, make sure that it is someone you trust and who will have your best interests in mind.

3. You can limit the scope of the decision-making authority in an EPA or EPG.

4. Review your EPA, EPG and AHD regularly. As your circumstances change, and as medical practice and technology changes (in the case of AHDs), your EPA, EPG and AHD should also be updated.

5. Consult a financial adviser when considering your estate planning.

6. Seek legal advice when preparing wills, EPAs, EPGs and AHDs.

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