Whatever your needs, and no matter the size of your estate, Touchstone Legal is here to guide you through the estate planning process.
At Touchstone Legal, we assist you in putting into place estate planning documents that reflect your particular circumstances and work best for you, whether your needs are simple or complex. One of our primary goals is to make sure every client who walks through our doors is protected by a complete Estate Plan. In order to protect you fully, you require Powers of Attorney and Personal Directives to look after you while alive and a Will to look after your affairs after death.
A Will allows you, as the person writing the will (the “testator” or “testatrix”), to dispose of your personal items and other assets as you wish and to whom you wish when you die. A Will allows you to direct your affairs and look after your loved ones when you are no longer here to look after them yourself.
Without a Will, that control is lost. Instead, provincial legislation will determine what happens to your estate and whom is to look after it.
In planning your Will, as a starting point you should: consider who to name as Executor (the person who will administer your estate and distribute your assets in keeping with your Will) and at least one back up if your first choice is unable or unwilling to act; assess your assets and debts; determine what gifts you wish to make; and decide what conditions to set for any trust funds for children or a spouse. We send you a Workbook in advance of your first meeting with us, which will help you start to think about these and other considerations, and help us focus the discussion when we meet.
Powers of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a written document. In it, you designate someone you trust to manage your financial affairs if you are unable to do so. It can be general or specific, and can be tailored to suit your anticipated needs. You must be mentally competent to sign one, and it is normally meant to be used only if you are incapable of acting for yourself.
One reason to have a Power of Attorney is to maintain control over your affairs, through your named “attorney” (not to be confused with a lawyer – instead, your attorney is most often a relative or trusted friend), at the time in your life when you cannot.
A Personal Directive only applies when you cannot advocate for yourself regarding your medical care and other personal care decisions, but it must be put into place when you are well and competent. The person you name is your delegate. In your Personal Directive, you set out how your delegate is to make personal care decisions for you when you are unable to make your own. Personal care is defined by the Nova Scotia legislation to include issues related to health care, nutrition, hydration, shelter, residence, comfort, recreation, social activities, support services, clothing, and hygiene. Your delegate should be someone who knows you well, who you trust to respect your wishes, and who is not afraid to advocate for you.
Providing Tax Planning with Estate Planning Advice
A proper estate plan will help you with tax minimization and deferral of taxes, including making use of available capital gains exemptions and using trusts and/or bequests in order to postpone the consequences of deemed dispositions on death. At Touchstone Legal, we make sure your estate planning documents consider and properly address tax planning opportunities, both in life and death.