As we wind down this most unprecedented, uncharted, and unreal year in memory, it might be a good time to reflect on some important truths and essentials as 2021 is on our doorstep, but with hope now in sight as the vaccines start to roll out.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought death and doom, but it has also caused a seismic change in how we do things, many for the better, creating new processes, efficiencies and flexibility.
In the trust and estate profession, we have been propelled forward at lightning speed into the digital world. A year ago, I could never have foreseen that only a few months later I would be practising law virtually – meeting clients throughout the GTA, the province, the country and the world on a video platform and completing a client's estate planning, including executing their most important estate planning documents, without even personally meeting them in some cases.
No doubt change is hard. The quote ascribed to Charles Darwin applies to 2020 like no other year. “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”.
The importance of adaptability has stood out as key in dealing with the challenges we have faced over the last few months, and will continue to do so in 2021 and beyond.
In the estate planning context, we have dealt with many clients who have taken the opportunity to adapt to this crisis by making their estate planning a priority, getting their affairs in good shape, and enjoying the peace of mind that being prepared brings.
Helping our clients achieve that sense of satisfaction has been our reward by ensuring their wills, their continuing powers of attorney for property, their powers of attorney for personal care and their letters of wishes or living wills for health, medical and other personal care decisions not only meet their objectives, but optimize their situations.
Not having these critical estate planning documents in place during the pandemic in our experience can be very problematic if one is hospitalized, quarantined or incapacitated, or if stay-at-home orders are in place making it very difficult for family members to assist their loved one in dealing with hospitals, other medical and health facilities, and financial institutions.
For those who have not yet done so, getting your affairs in order is a great New Year's Resolution for 2021. Some of us have more time on our hands, fewer complications and distractions as life becomes in many ways more simple and focused on home and family. In addition to all those home fix-it projects, perhaps personal priorities can finally make it to the top of the list.
We wish each of our readers a peaceful and safe holiday season, and that in 2021 we all will emerge stronger than before, closer than before, and more together than before.
— Margaret O'Sullivan
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