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Making Decisions

Prearranging a funeral

Making funeral arrangements in advance, or at least discussing your wishes with family members, will relieve them of having to make these decisions after your death.

Write down your preferences. Include whether you wish to be cremated or buried, and whether you want a memorial service or a traditional funeral.

Organ donation

If you want to donate your organs at death, discuss your wishes with your family first. It’s important to let your immediate family know your wishes, as they are always consulted when you die. They should be aware of your wishes so they can advise medical personnel if your signed donor card is not readily available.

Be sure to sign an organ donor card and/or the appropriate section on your driver’s license, and keep it in your wallet where it is easy to find.

A living will

Some provinces recognize a living will as a legal document. A living will is a signed document that can say you do not want any medical procedures used to artificially prolong your life if you become terminally ill and are near death.

To find out more about living wills and the laws in your province, contact your legal advisor.

Power of attorney

As part of your estate plan, consider appointing someone to manage your affairs for you if you are unable to do so, due to an accident or a prolonged or terminal illness. You may be surprised to know that your spouse does not automatically have this authority, which is called power of attorney.

A power of attorney is a legal document which gives someone authority to deal with your property on your behalf. A power of attorney is in effect only during your lifetime. After your death, your executor assumes full responsibility for looking after your affairs.

Provincial law governs powers of attorney, so in most cases you’ll need to consult your lawyer about giving someone this power.

Charitable giving

As part of your estate plan, you may want to make a special gift to your favourite charity. You can make this provision in your will or through a life insurance policy.

For a minimum investment, you can use life insurance to create a substantial legacy and possibly receive tax benefits immediately.