People shouldn’t delay making an appointment with a notary to get their will prepared, suggests Piacente.
Peter McCabe / MONTREAL GAZETTE
Do you have a will? If so, when was it last updated? Perhaps you have one but you had it done several years ago at the time of your marriage or when you became a parent. It should be updated, each time your situation changes; such as a divorce, remarriage, grandchildren, a new business.More specifically though, do you have a Protection Mandate? What’s that you ask? A Protection Mandate is a document that lets you name, in advance, one or more people to look after your well-being and manage your property should you become incapacitated and unable to take care of or make decisions for yourself. This mandate is written up while you are still alive and in full powers of your faculties and the mandate takes effect the moment you are incapacitated. A will, on the other hand, outlines your final wishes.You can appoint a mandatary by doing the paperwork yourself, witnessed by two people (who are not mandataries and would not benefit from the mandate) or you can use the services of a notary. The benefit of using a notary is that the process will be quicker if and when you are incapacitated. The notary will launch procedures to have the mandate homologated by the court making the document official.Don’t confuse a Protection Mandate with a power of attorney. A power of attorney applies to decisions about property, takes effect when you decide to give it, and can be revoked by you but becomes invalid upon your death. A mandate is for when you are still living but incapacitated or with diminished faculties.Having just come back from halfway across the world to help a loved one who became ill, I know first hand how absolutely crucial it is to have appointed such a mandatary. Otherwise, without it, who is authorized to make medical decisions for you if you are in a coma, or cannot communicate? Who will pay your bills, who will arrange for needed treatments? Who will look after your day-to-day expenses, pay your mortgage, insurance premiums, renew your Medicare card, file income taxes? What about end of life care?Choose this person or persons carefully, persons you know will have your best interests at heart, a family member, a close friend, someone you trust completely. Perhaps appoint a substitute in case your appointee suddenly finds himself/herself unable to fulfil their obligations. If you have a lot of business interests, think of appointing a second mandatary, someone with relevant experience. Before you do this, speak with the people you choose and see whether or not they will accept this responsibility, since it is a big one. Tell your family of your choice and leave a copy of the mandate with them.While you’re at it, write down important details about your financials, bank accounts, passwords, due dates for insurance premiums, anything that would help your mandatary act on your behalf. Just put it in a sealed envelope and tell your mandatary there is a file with their name on it in a drawer should it ever be needed.So, make that appointment with your notary today and get that conversation started; ask your parents if they have such a Protection Mandate, your aunts, uncles, friends, your neighbours, especially if they live alone. You’d be surprised how many people I talk to who have never heard of the Protection Mandate, thinking their will is enough. While no one likes to think about “what if”, planning ahead can make an already difficult time a little easier for everyone involved.For more information, check www.educaloi.qc.ca and click on “Protection Mandates: Naming someone to act for you.”— Diane Piacente, a former Hudson town councillor/interim mayor, has worked as a real estate agent, actress/model and photographer.Related