Nathan Kaulback

For many Nova Scotians, the restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a newfound abundance of time to tackle the projects and tasks that have been sitting at the bottom of our to-do lists for some years.

One of the most common items that gets left behind in our increasingly busy lives is the creation of a Last Will and Testament. With this extra time, getting to or perhaps even updating your Will is certainly something you should try to cross off your list.

For many people, the first time they visit a lawyer will be to create their Last Will and Testament. Not only might you be unfamiliar with what you should be thinking about or what you need to bring, you might also not know about the process of hiring a lawyer.

However, there is no reason to fear – the process is simple.

Choosing a Wills Package

For most situations, law firms typically offer a flat fee for the creation of a Will. This simply means that a firm has a set price for the Will. However, if you have a complicated situation, you may need to get a special quote after talking with your lawyer.

For most situations though, you can expect the flat fee to change depending on a few things.

First, the price will change depending on whether you are only getting a Will for yourself, or whether you are getting your Will done with your partner. Most law firms, including Burnside Law Group, offer significant discounts for couples’ packages.

Second, you will need to decide what documents you want to receive as a part of your package. Most law firms not only offer discounts on couples’ packages, but also offer significant discounts if you also request a Power of Attorney or a Personal Directive in addition to your Will. These two documents are important and common estate planning tools, but are perhaps not as well known as the Last Will and Testament.

Powers of Attorney and Personal Directives

A Power of Attorney refers to a document which gives someone of your choosing the legal authority to make financial decisions for you. For example, this can include the ability to use your bank account for you, or to sell your house for you. Powers of Attorney can be made so that the person you choose receives their authority as soon as the document is signed, or when you lose the ability to make financial decisions for yourself.

Meanwhile, a Personal Directive gives someone of your choosing the legal authority to make two kinds of decisions. First, it gives a person the ability to make decisions concerning your medical treatment. Second, it gives a person the ability to make decisions concerning your personal care. For example, this can include the ability to decide whether you receive a surgery, as well as the ability to decide where you live. Unlike a Power of Attorney, the person you choose only receives this legal authority once you lose the ability to make these decisions for yourself.

After you decide which of these documents you or your partner wants, your law firm then can typically tell you what your flat fee is. As an example, at Burnside Law Group, you can find our pricing here.

After you figure out which documents you want, and how much you can expect to spend, you may also want to think about a few things prior to meeting with your lawyer.

Before Meeting With Your Lawyer

First and foremost, before you meet with you lawyer, you should think about how you would want your property divided should you unexpectedly pass away.

Some additional questions you may want to think about are:

  • Who do you want to inherit your property? What portion of that property do you want each person to receive?
  • What major assets do you own? Do you own a home? Do you have any major investments?
  • Do you have any minor children who would need special provisions for their care?
  • Do you have any sentimental items that you want certain persons to have?

You should also think about who you want to be responsible for distributing your property once you pass away (this person is usually referred to as an “executor”). While it is common for an executor to also be someone who will receive property under the same Will, you should narrow down your choice to a single person as well as a single alternate if they are unavailable. Most lawyers, unless there are special circumstances, will discourage having multiple executors.

Finally, there are some specific details you should try to have on hand before meeting with your lawyer. Most importantly, you should have the full names, including middle names, of anyone you are going to mention in your Will.  Additionally, you should also have the name of the town and province they are residing in.

After that, you are done! Once you have thought about these topics, you will be as prepared as you can be for the meeting with your lawyer.

If you have not selected a lawyer to meet with yet, Burnside Law Group has several lawyers who practice in Wills & Estate Law, and offers some of the most competitive pricing on Estate Packages in the Halifax Regional Municipality. To learn more about our Estate practice, please visit this link.

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The following article is meant for general information only and should not be relied upon in place of legal advice. If you have any questions about the below, please contact one of our Estate Practitioners.