Nicole Garton was our guest speaker on October 27th and spoke to us about the importance of ensuring you have at least the essentials for wills and estate planning in place to prepare for the unexpected. There are many risks and problems that can arise for the estimated one-third to one-half of Canadians who pass away without these measures in place.   
   Nicole is the the President of Heritage Trust and principal lawyer at Heritage Law, in North Vancouver, where she practices in the areas of wills and estates,  family law and mediation.  Along with her 20 years of experience practising in this field, she brings a unique and specialized skillset to her work - as the former Chair of the Canadian Bar Association Wills and Trusts Subsection (Vancouver chapter), in addition to being a Chartered Mediator and Comprehensive Family Mediator as certified by Family Mediation Canada as well as a certified Family Enterprise Advisor. 
Some of Nicole's key tips included:
  • Everyone should make sure to have three things in place:
    • a basic Power of Attorney
    • a Healthcare Directive aka Representation Agreement for end of life planning, and
    • a basic Will with a designated Executor.
  • The time and cost involved is manageable because Notaries Public can provide the key services and most lawyers who work in this area will have a basic package available. 
  • Make sure you have a Co-habitation Agreement in place if you have re-partnered later in life to avoid potential conflicts or issues with Family Law.
  • It's more efficient from a tax perspective to provide charitable donations in your estate because it results in about double the tax credit benefit.
Sadly, a tragic situation that Nicole and her legal colleagues are addressing more frequently is helping family members navigate the complex intestate process arising from the sudden passing of young, otherwise healthy victims of the overdose pandemic.  A big thank you to Nicole for her expertise and for the gentle nudge to get our paperwork affairs in order while we're still topside up!