Estate planning, where should I start?

Great question. Too few people ask it, and even when they do, it’s often late in the game. While dealing with what happens when you die or become disabled, starting the conversation is often the hardest part.

When you work with me, you get an experienced Edmonton family & estate lawyer who believes that estate planning needs to start early and is for everyone, regardless of your “wealth”. In my experience, the earlier I work with a client in preparing her or him for the inevitable, the better both client and beneficiaries are served when that time comes.

I offer a free, Estate Planning consultation. Call me to book.

ESTATE PLANS FOR EVERYONE

We take pride in helping every client develop an estate plan that both respects and reflects their wishes, and ensuring that those wishes are carried out. From simple to complex, we’re with you.

CHANGING SITUATIONS

We make sure that the estate plan is revisited as circumstances change and the plan needs to reflect a new situation. Plus, we’ll ensure your wishes are executed.

AFFORDABLE SOLUTIONS

We guide you in all estate processes from Wills to setting up a Power of Attorney should you become incapacitated later in life. And we don’t burden you with excessive legal fees.

REQUEST A ESTATE PLANNING CONSULTATION

Work with an experienced, full service estate lawyer.

An estate plan needs to be well designed, clear, and free of ambiguity. After all your efforts, you would not want any confusion following your death. If someone’s not happy with the results of a Will, family feuds can erupt. That can involve litigation and be very unpleasant, not to mention costly for all involved. I know. I’ve had to deal with it.

Putting a Power of Attorney (PoA) in Place

A General Power of Attorney allows a named person to handle all of your financial affairs so that if anything happens to you, such as an accident or illness and you cannot handle your own affairs, you appoint someone to act on your behalf who will manage your assets, pay bills, and make decisions.  (Often a family member or your lawyer). This PoA is generally referred to as an “Enduring Power of Attorney“.

The conditions for setting up the PoA are:

  1.     You must have the capacity to make financial decisions when it is written and signed
  2.     You must have lost that capacity for the PoA to come into effect.

Make sure that the PoA document is:

  •         Stored in a safe place. We keep a copy on file for you as well at no charge.
  •         Accessible to your representative (they should probably keep a copy)

It may be smart to let your bank/financial institution have a copy.

I can help you with all of the above. With over three decades of experience in dealing with estate issues, not only do I have the experience but perhaps as important, I have the patience to guide you safely through.

5 Reason’s to Meet With Me

I want you to enjoy working with me as your estate lawyer. That’s why I focus on these 5 areas to give you the best legal experience.

Extraordinarily Thorough

I don’t let things slip through the cracks.

``Win Win`` Result Focused

Your situation handled with integrity for everyone.

Gratifying Experience

My goal for every client that hires me.

Professional Expertise

Feel confident that you are in the best possible hands.

Empathic Communication

I’ve gone through & understand your situation from every side.

The five thousand, eight hundred and ninety-five metre view…

That’s what I got when I turned 50 and decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain. From that altitude you get a totally different perspective on life. You pause to look back on your own personal journey.

And I’m reminded of all those other personal journeys that my clients have taken over the years. They’ve changed, I’ve changed, the world has changed. Kilimanjaro has changed. As the world heats up, Kilimanjaro’s glaciers are shrinking. Rainfall in this region, where “Water is Life,” is decreasing. Replanting trees on the mountain’s slopes can’t keep up with deforestation.

I recognize that my job has been and is to help my clients through the situations they face today, and those they will face in the future; to work with them, empathize with them, encourage them, and put my skills to work serving them.

That’s what Kilimanjaro reminds me from five thousand, eight hundred and ninety-five metres. There’s work to be done and my clients can count on me to do it.

Our Commitments to You

  •  Reasonable fees
  •  Keep you informed
  •  Prompt responses
  •  Go the extra mile
  •  Protect your privacy
  •  Honour your decisions

When was your Will last updated?

Common Questions & Estate Planning Resources

For answers to the questions below, click the + to open.

Do I need a Power of Attorney as well as a Will?

Since we are all going to die, we need a Will.  However, a PoA is not required. Having said that, putting a PoA in place is an extraordinarily smart action on your part. If you were to lose capacity without one, you could expose your family to potential feuds. Consider your PoA as insurance against that.

Does a Power of Attorney survive my death?

No. The moment you die, your PoA is cancelled and your Will comes into effect.

Can the person I appoint to be my PoA representative be in conflict with the Executor of my Will?

There is no relationship between your PoA appointment and your Will. Your named “Executor” in your Will administers your “estate” (financial assets) after you die. If you wish, your Executor and your PoA representative can be the same person. It’s up to you.

Are there Provincial differences in Power of Attorney requirements?

Yes. Provinces each have their own interpretation of PoA. Check what those conditions are for the Province where you live.

What if you die without a Will (intestate)?

I have had to deal with too many Canadians and their regret that a relative or friend did not have a valid will when they died. Example. I know of a woman who lived to 100, receiving congratulatory letters from the Prime Minister and the Queen. Her will had been revised in accordance with her wishes. However, she was hospitalized in an emergency and never got to sign that revised will. Following her death, with no signature, the courts decided on a previous will, splitting the estate in ways contrary to her wishes.

Do I really need a Lawyer to prepare my Will?

Of course not. You may be able to take the time to put together a legally binding document that will stand up in court But there are many ways to make a mistake and I assure you our clients do not want their intentions thwarted following their death. From past experience I can tell you that without a valid will, this can get very complicated and nasty to resolve. Let’s face it, when we die, we don’t want our assets going to relatives we didn’t care about, causes we didn’t like, or government coffers. Much will depend on the intestate laws of where you live, and whoever is appointed to handle your estate.

What is a Personal Directive (living will)?

A Personal Directive is the legal term used in Alberta, somewhat equivalent to the term “Living Will” used elsewhere. It’s a decision by you to give authority to another person to act on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself. For example, if you are ill and clearly in no position to make decisions. Your lawyer will help you draw up a suitable Personal Directive to reflect your wishes.

Why hire a qualified lawyer?

When the estate is complex, when you want legalities handled quickly and competently, no lawsuits, no family fights, no Probate Court rejection, beneficiaries paid, and most of all, peace of mind, a qualified lawyer can handle all issues for you..

How long does the process take?

From three months to 18 months or more, depending on estate complexity

What is probate?

A judicial process to transfer a decedent’s estate to its beneficiaries, validate the will, and empower the executor to administer the estate.

What does the process entail?

An executor, established in the decedent’s will, determines the value of the estate, the names of beneficiaries, and assesses what is due to each beneficiary. Once submitted and approved by the Probate Court, the assets are distributed to beneficiaries.

What is subject to probate?

Most assets including property, vehicles, stocks, bonds, bank accounts, share ownership. Exceptions include certain assets to a named beneficiary such as RRSPs, RRIFs, TFSAs and insurance. Also excluded are assets given or created during the decedent’s life, such as gifts, and assets in “Inter Vivos Trusts”

Why hire a qualified lawyer?

When the estate is complex, when you want legalities handled quickly and competently, no lawsuits, no family fights, no Probate Court rejection, beneficiaries paid, and most of all, peace of mind.

How long does the process take?

From three months to 18 months or more, depending on estate complexity

What do I do next?

If you’ve made it this far, the best thing to do is schedule a consultation with me. Bring whoever you need to attend.

During the consultation we can discuss any additional questions you have without a commitment to work with me. I want you to feel comfortable with me before you decide.

 

Estate/Executor Resources

Download free legal resources to help you through the executor process. Your funeral home will also be able to provide necessary forms and helpful worksheets.