"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."

~ Niccolo Machiavelli, historian and writer

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Guide to Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning

I came across a nice article today on our favourite topic de jour.

WILLS, TRUSTS, AND ESTATE PLANNING: A GUIDE FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES AND THEIR FAMILIES

It covers Wills, Powers of Attorneys, the Henson Trust, Guardianship and what you need to think about before you visit a lawyer in regard to these topics. It also appear to cover in some detail the issue of picking the trustees for a Henson Trust, a very important point when you consider that you are giving the trustee(s) absolute and complete, 100% unfettered discretion as to how much, if any, of the funds in the Trust will actually be distributed to the beneficiary (likely your disabled child).

Although written by members of an Ontario law firm, Siskinds, the majority of it should translate out for the rest of the country. So go get a cup of coffee, sit back and prepare to be educated. Some more.

The other thing I have been hearing a fair bit lately locally is the question of "Who?". As in
"Who do I go to? Which lawyer should I go to in order to have this done?"
As I've noted before, not all lawyers are necessarily up to snuff in this area of the law. And you really do want to make sure you that you hire someone who can give you the best value for your money. Who will get it done right.

I've been hesitant to make concrete suggestions on the subject up until now. So let's try this. If you live in Nova Scotia and want to stay with a lawyer in this Province, I would suggest contacting your local disability organization [ie. Nova Scotia Down Syndrome Society, Schizophrenia Society, Epilepsy Association or other appropriate organization] and see if there is anyone they might recommend. If that doesn't work, I know that Mr. Paul Miller, a lawyer in Bedford, use to do a lot of this work. Having met him once and knowing his reputation, personally, I wouldn't hesitate to take this type of work to him.

And for the big bang, I can do no better than to recommend Mr. Ken Pope, he of the Disability and Estate Planning Seminar, whose presentation resulted in the majority of these posts. Mr. Pope is licensed to practice across the country, meaning that he can act as a lawyer in Nova Scotia or British Columbia, as easily as he can in Ontario. And seeing as he's the one that taught me the majority of what you've seen in these pages for the past few months, maybe not such a bad idea.

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