We are all busy people and lead busy lives. Here is a quick checklist of a few key issues that we should all take the time to stop and consider to make sure that our “affairs are in order.”
1. Estate Planning Documents. Do you have a will, power of attorney, and personal directive in place? If you don’t, you should. If you do, your Will and other estate planning should still be reviewed on a regular basis. We recommend that you review your planning at least once a year, every time that there are changes in your personal or financial affairs, if you move outside the province of Alberta, or if you acquire property outside Canada.
2. Location of Key Documents. Store your estate planning documents in a safe place and make sure that someone else knows where these documents can be found. There is no requirement to store the documents in a safety deposit box, but you can certainly do so. Keep an up to date list of key persons who need to be contacted in the event of your death or incapacity, including your personal representatives. Make sure someone knows where to find this list. Keep a current list of your assets and debts, and keep this list with your estate planning documents along with any important related documents such as title to any real estate that you own, insurance policies and any investment statements
3. Insurance. It is important to review your insurance needs and the adequacy of your existing coverage regularly. This includes property insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, and any other insurance particular to your situation. If you are not sure what insurance you need, speak to an insurance agent or broker.
4. Specialized Beneficiary Designations. It is prudent to review and confirm the beneficiary designations that you have in place for any RRSPs, RRIFs or insurance products that you have now, or acquire in the future. If you have or acquire a Tax Free Savings Account in the future, there are similar designations that you should confirm with your financial and/or tax advisors.
5. Business Operations Contingency Plan. If you operate a business, you should consider putting a specialized disaster plan together that will allow for your operations to continue in the event of your death or incapacity, but also provide the person who will step in to manage the business with all of the necessary background information (accounts, contacts, passwords, key business information, etc.). You can consider having a specialized power of attorney in place (in the event of incapacity) to allow a business partner or other person to manage the business.
6. Your Digital Life. We all lead online lives (if you didn’t you would not be reading this blog…). Many online service providers (such as Google) have options for the designation of agents that may step in to access your account in the event you cannot.
At Patriot Law Group, we provide wide ranging legal services, including those relating to estate planning and small business issues. If you have questions about your legal “health” please contact us.