Articles & Media


Planning for the Unknown

18-Mar-20

By McLennan Ross Wills & Estates Team

In these uncertain times it is important that we review our personal and financial arrangements to ensure that in the event of a COVID-19 infection we are prepared to respond. A key aspect of preparation is ensuring a current Personal Directive and Enduring Power of Attorney are in place. 

Personal Directive

A Personal Directive is a legal document that appoints an individual to make personal decisions on your behalf in the event you become unable to make these decisions for yourself. In this document you can name the individual (or individuals) that you want to make these decisions for you. This person is known as your “Agent”. In a Personal Directive you can provide instructions to your Agent on the type of care that you would or would not want to receive and generally ensure your wishes are known. You can also provide direction on who you would want to temporarily care for your minor children in the event you are not able to. 

In the event you do not have a Personal Directive, you will be deprived of the opportunity to pick your Agent and to inform your health care providers of your intentions. It is possible that a family member may need to seek an emergency Guardianship Order from the Court of Queen’s Bench in order to appoint someone to make these personal decisions on your behalf. This is a process that takes both time and money and deprives your loved ones of being able to solely focus on the most important thing to them, “YOU” and your health. A further complication is that, at present, the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta is closed until March 29, 2020 for non-emergency matters. It is foreseeable that this closure could be extended and that obtaining Orders may become more challenging as circumstances progress. 

Enduring Power of Attorney

An Enduring Power of Attorney is a legal document that appoints either an individual or a Trust Company to make financial decisions on your behalf in the event you become incapable or your circumstances make personal management difficult, for instance due to hospitalization. In this document you name the person, persons or entity that you want to make these decisions for you. The designate is known as your “Attorney”. Your Attorney does not need to be a lawyer.  In this document you can specify the manner in which you want your finances managed and for whom those funds can be used, for instance adult children. An Enduring Power of Attorney is to a large degree a fully customizable document that can be designed to suit your personal circumstances. 

In the event you do not have an Enduring Power of Attorney, you will lose the opportunity to designate the person or entity with whom you would entrust your financial affairs. In addition, someone will potentially need to apply to the Court of Queen’s Bench for an emergency Trusteeship Order in order to receive legal authority over your financial matters. Once again this will result in additional cost and delay and the uncertainty relating to access to the Court system. Given the turbulent financial markets, it is all the more imperative that unnecessary delays do not occur.

McLennan Ross’ team is prepared to assist you on an urgent and expedited basis with these matters. If you wish to discuss your personal and financial plan, please contact Crista Osualdini, our practice group leader.  As necessary and in light of the circumstances, we are available to assist you on evenings and weekends and will work to accommodate your schedule to ensure that you are properly prepared. 

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