A will is a written document that sets out your wishes about how your estate should be taken care of and distributed after death. It also names an executor who will carry out the terms of the will, as well as a guardian for minor children.
Without a will, the laws of your province or territory will determine what happens to your assets. To ensure that your will is legal, you may wish to have a lawyer draft it for you. You can also buy a will kit which offers a standard model for completing your will. Be mindful, however, that a will kit may not offer opportunities for you to state your specific needs.
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that appoints someone to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to make those decisions yourself. There are two types: one for healthcare decisions and one for financial decisions. These have different names in different provinces.
In the Enduring Power of Attorney, you choose a person to make decisions about your finances on your behalf when you are no longer able to do so.
In the Advanced Care Directive, you choose a person to make decisions about your healthcare needs when you are no longer able to do so. It can specify your wishes on treatment, living arrangements, hospitalization and end-of-life measures.
When choosing someone to name in a Power of Attorney, make sure you trust this person and be sure to discuss your wishes with him or her ahead of time so this person can act in your best interest.
The Canadian Cancer Society has a database that can be used to find local support services in your area. You can access it below: