Wills & Estates
I provide the following services regarding Wills and Estate Planning. Each of these services also has its own page where you can find more information.
Will Preparation (> Additional Information)
A Will can be as simple or as complex as your needs and wishes dictate.
A Will is a legally binding document that sets out your wishes on how, to whom and how much of, your assets, debts, loans, etc. (your estate) are distributed when you leave this world. No, you can’t take it with you. In order to be effective and legally binding on your executor and beneficiaries, the Will must be properly prepared and executed in accordance with the rules set out in legislation.
Everyone should prepare a Will to reflect their own individual circumstances and goals.
If you do not have a Will or you do not have a properly prepared and valid Will, then your estate is distributed in accordance with legislation that states who gets what share of your estate and when they receive it. Chances are this may not be what you wanted.
In your Will you will name the executor, who will be the Trustee of your estate until it is distributed to your beneficiaries. You may also name a Guardian for any minor children or any children that may be dependent adults. You can also set out how your choice of funeral arrangements, celebration life, how your remains are to be dealt with, cremation, choice of burial plots, if you have a pre-paid arrangement, etc.
A Will should be reviewed at least every five (5) years or so to see if it is still relevant or if there are some changes you would like to make. You should also review your Will if there are changes in your family composition, family status, etc. If you get married, are contemplating marriage or are separated or divorcing, your Will should be reviewed and changed as soon as possible.
Together with your accountant, tax advisor, we can also address any tax saving or capital gains issues that may arise on your death to try and lessen the burden of these costs on your estate so that the beneficiaries may receive a larger inheritance.
A Power of Attorney gives another person the authority to handle your property and finances – assets, debts, bank accounts, real estate, leases, investments, etc. Most people use Powers of Attorney if they are going to be out of the province or country for a period of time and need someone to look after their affairs, or to do something specific while they are away or temporarily incapable of doing something (i.e. bed-ridden), such as sign off on a real estate sale or purchase. Powers of Attorney can also be used to name someone to take care of your affairs, such as government accounts, if wish to have a relative or friend take care of these for you.
The Power of Attorney can be for a limited, specific purpose and it can also have a deadline or expiry time on it. Or, the Power of Attorney can be broad and general and indefinite. However, a standard Power of Attorney terminates when you lose the capacity to understand what is going on, or lose capacity to deal with your own affairs.
An Enduring Power of Attorney is different than a standard Power of Attorney because it continues to be in effect even after you lose capacity (physical, mental or both) to deal with your own affairs. For that reason, an Enduring Power of Attorney crucial to have in place with regard to Estate Planning.
An Enduring Power of Attorney has to be executed while you still have capacity; after you lose capacity your family will require a court order to obtain the authority to handle your financial affairs. The cost of being prepared ahead of time and signing an Enduring Power of Attorney is a very small fraction of the cost involved in getting a court Order for Trusteeship (Represented Adult Application) to name someone to handle your financial affairs. The cost of preparing this in advance is a small fraction of the cost of a court application.
Personal Directive (sometimes referred to as a Healthcare Directive, Green Sleeve, Goals of Care Designation, or Living Will)
A Personal Directive names an Agent who will have authority to make decisions regarding your healthcare, surgeries, medical procedures, where you may live, who may associate with you, a do not resuscitate, withdrawal of treatment directives; basically any decision regarding your health and well-being and is non-financial. A Personal Directive only takes effect after a medical practitioner certifies that you no longer have the capacity to make your own decisions.
Like an Enduring Power of Attorney, if you do not have a valid Personal Directive, then your family has to apply to the courts to get an order giving them the authority to make decisions on your behalf. The cost of being prepared ahead of time and signing a Personal Directive is a small fraction of the cost involved in getting a court Order for Guardianship (Represented Adult Application).
There are a number of ways to draft a Personal Directive; they can be broad or very specific, and there are things to consider with both approaches. You should discuss and chose what works best for you and your family. I also recommend that you consult with a doctor to discuss your health and circumstances prior to executing a Personal Directive.
I can assist you to properly prepare for what lies ahead in taking care of yourself, your loved ones and your estate as you desire it to be done. Please contact us to discuss.
ProfessionalJames graduated from the U of C with a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree in 2000 and articled at a small Calgary firm until June 2001. From June 2001, James has practiced as a lawyer in the Foothills area with offices in Okotoks and Black Diamond-Turner Valley. James has always been interested in a general law practice helping people and the community with everyday issues. His practice currently involves wills, estates, family law, corporate, residential and commercial real estate, child representation, mediation, arbitration, parenting coordination and some types of litigation. James is continuously updating his training and skills and has expanded his dispute resolution arsenal by studying and practicing mediation, arbitration, parenting coordination, collaborative law and most recently learning the peacemakers approach to family law.
PersonalJames enjoys the atmosphere and spirit of a small, close-knit community which he finds is very vibrant in the Foothills, Black Diamond-Turner Valley and Okotoks. This likely comes from his upbringing, as he grew up in small towns in Saskatchewan. James has a wide range of hobbies and interests including the arts in its many forms (music, theatre, photography, movies, painting and dance), sports both as a spectator and participant (martial arts, football, hockey) and being active in the outdoors by camping, hiking, snowshoeing and backpacking.
Associations | CommunityJames has been a member of the Law Society of Alberta, Calgary Bar Association, Alberta Arbitration and Mediation Society, Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Alberta, Alberta Family Mediation Society, Association of Collaborative Professionals (Calgary), Canadian Bar Association. James has also volunteered and participated in community associations: Olde Towne Okotoks Business Association, Creative Okotoks, Okotoks Film Society, Diamond Valley Chamber of Commerce, Okotoks Chamber of Commerce, Lions International, St Vincent De Paul Society, the Food Bank, Calgary Facial Hair Club and Beneath the Arch Concert Series Society.
AccreditationsLLB degree and active lawyer of the Law society of Alberta - 2001 Certified to Represent Children in legal disputes - 2005 Family Mediator - 2006 Collaborative Lawyer – 2007 Legal Representation of Children – 2010 Qualified Mediator - 2011 Certified Arbitrator - 2015 Parenting Coordinator - 2015
A Codicil is a short addendum to your Will that changes some paragraphs of your Will. It is useful if you want to keep most of your Will as it is written, but want to change one or two parts of it: i.e. name another executor, add another beneficiary, change the percentage of distribution, give a specific item to a person, etc.
I would be happy to discuss your wishes and your circumstances and provide you with legal advice and guidance in drafting and executing your Will and Estate Planning documents.