Most people tend to put off thinking about what would happen if they were to die or become incapable of managing their affairs. Really, everyone should think about estate planning. If you fail to develop a plan, then you might not have any input into who manages your affairs, who becomes the guardian of your children, and what happens to your assets.

There are three documents everyone should have:

1. A will

2. A Power of attorney

3. A representation agreement

The will sets out who you want to administer your estate, to receive your assets and to be the guardian of your minor children. If a person dies without a will, these decisions might need to be made by people who don’t know what you would have preferred. There are laws about inheritance when a person dies without a will, but under these laws your assets might go to people you would not have chosen.

The power of attorney is a document that names a person to handle your financial and legal affairs. It might also allow this person to handle your affairs if you were to become incapable of managing them yourself for medical reasons.

The representation agreement allows you to name someone you trust to make health and personal care decisions for you should you become unable to make such decisions yourself. If you have any particular health-care wishes, you can include them in a representation agreement.

You might also consider other planning steps:

  • an advance directive to set out your wishes about medical care at the end of life
  • registering as an organ donor
  • pre-planning a funeral

For more information about estate planning, click here.