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Why you should get your financial affairs in order during the COVID-19 crisis

Update your will and power of attorney now to avoid estate problems later
GUE Spotlight_Darren Devine_July Title image

The emergence of COVID-19 has created a significant threat to the health of Canadians nation-wide, particularly in older adults. For those seniors with current medical conditions, the chance of a fatal infection is even higher. To lower the chance of contracting the virus, seniors are advised to follow all the proper health protocols. 

Financial advisors care about people’s health, safety and wellbeing. The unfortunate reality is that COVID-19 has caused more deaths among Canadians over age 65 than other age groups. It’s important that people consider whether they have a will and power of attorney. If they do, they want to ensure information is up to date in the event of an untimely illness or passing. 

The importance of having an accurate and updated will and power of attorney is critical. That’s especially true for older people in the target group that COVID-19 affects. In this environment, it’s important to have your affairs in order.

Consider a situation where no will exists to help direct execution of an estate. Legislation in Ontario sets out rules about what happens to the accumulated property and assets. Who winds up with your property depends on several variables: 

•    Whether you’re married or living common law, 
•    How many children you have, and 
•    What claims might arise from parents, siblings, and other family members. 

The bottom line is that things can get really messy. It becomes a burden for the people you leave behind. It’s much better if you take the proactive approach of setting this stuff up in advance. Beyond that, your legacy could be a giant dispute among your children over what’s left. Now more than ever, people need to make sure their will and power of attorney are up to date.

When choosing a power of attorney or executor, most people tend to make it an emotional decision. They may choose the eldest child or one considered to be most responsible, says Darren Devine, President of Devine & Associates Financial Services Inc. Accepting the job of being an executor or power of attorney is a very serious responsibility. As a result, there is one important characteristic to look for when choosing your power of attorney or executor. 

“In my opinion, the primary selection criteria should be aptitude,” says Devine. “Ideally, someone with an experienced financial background, a managerial background or who is a master at organization. The person has to deal with emotionally charged beneficiaries who want their money. They need to be a politician, a therapist and an accountant. What if you have four kids and make them all equally responsible? There’s too much potential for disagreement which can delay or halt the execution of the estate.”

Professional trustees are available to handle the power of attorney or executor responsibilities. People can hire a trustee if no family member or friend has the expertise to carry out that role. Costs for setting up a will, power of attorney, or hiring a professional trustee will depend on the individual or firm.

To learn more about how we can help you set your affairs in order, click here. You can also reach out to Devine & Associates Financial Services Inc. at 519-780-1730.

Darren Devine Spotlight headshot

This Content is made possible by our Sponsor; it is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff.