Linking Powers of Attorney, Beneficiaries, Wills and Estates.

Linking Powers of Attorney, Beneficiaries, Wills and Estates.

There are two, equally important types of Powers-of-Attorney (POA): personal care and financial matters. To avoid confusion, legal costs and delays in the future, your POAs and Will direction and information should be identical with the stated beneficiaries on your insurance policies, registered accounts and will and estate documentation.

End-of-life financial matters are the ultimate test of a relationship and discussing these matters calmly and proactively is an important element of a qualified Advisor’s practice.

For your next meeting with someone who offers consultation in this area, you should place POAs and Wills on the agenda. Tending to these details may feel uncomfortable, but once it is completed and the steps implemented you will feel much better.

In order to achieve a productive meeting, go over the following points:

  1. Extensively review your file for completeness and accuracy
    • Do we have a copy of your POA for financial matters?
      • Is it a certified copy?
      • Is it current? Have any conditions or relationships changed?
    • Do we have a copy of your Will?
      • Is it a certified copy?
      • Is it current? Has anything changed with relationships, the relative value of named assets, tax laws affecting the transfer of assets?
      • Do we know the lawyer who prepared the Will?
      • Are there any accounts specifically addressed in the Will?
    • Have beneficiaries/successor holders been appointed for all accounts?
      • If so, or if they have been named in the Will, our documentation and the will should match
  2. Highlight discrepancies and missing information
    • Prepare a detailed list based on the information on-file
    • Find missing documentation and devise a plan to acquire information
  3. Establish follow-up dates and deadlines to remedy specific discrepancies, and specific action items.

When all of the documentation agrees and is in order, closing a simple estate with the proper transfer of funds, filing a terminal tax return, and receiving a Clearance Certificate from Canada Revenue Agency can save hundreds of hours of work in the future.

Proper documentation will:

  • Significantly reduce the amount of time Executors spend determining what and how someone’s wishes should be carried out.
  • Minimize costs: Executors, often family members with minimal estate experience, will rely on the expertise of a lawyer or accountant.
  • Simplifying your estate settlement and executing a Will requires attention-to-detail prior to the inevitable, not after! Take time to get your documentation in order to reduce the stress and strain on your family and increase the gifts you leave them.

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