Article by Gregg W. Knudsen, TEP

A Henson Trust is a type of trust established primarily for the benefit of individuals with disabilities, particularly those who qualify to receive government benefits. The key feature of a Henson Trust is that it is designed to protect the assets held within the trust from being considered as assets of the beneficiary for the purpose of determining eligibility for these government assistance programs. The disability can be mental or physical. The term Henson Trust is named after the successful litigant in a landmark Ontario case. In Henson v. Ontario, the Ontario courts found that certain assets held inside of a fully discretionary trust are not to be considered in an assessment for benefits under a means-based government assistance scheme.… [Read more]

With springtime upon us, and preparing for tax season, many of us may have estate planning on the mind. You may be asking yourself “Do I Need a Will?”.

In Gregg Knudsen’s, “Do I Need a Will?” you will learn about Wills and the laws under our provincial jurisdiction in Nova Scotia regarding your Estate Planning.

Do I Need a Will?

By Gregg W. Knudsen, TEP

This is a commonly asked question of any lawyer who practices in this area of law. The answer is “Yes, everybody should have a Will”. There are several reasons. First, to distribute your assets as you want them to be distributed.… [Read more]

Alter Ego Trusts (AET) and Joint Partner Trusts (JPT) are a more complex method of estate planning, but can be well-suited to certain situations. You must be over the age of 65 years to consider these methods of planning.

AET and JPT both are often used as a method of probate avoidance. However, these trusts also are more private than a traditional Will, because your Will is publicly available once your executor files for probate. Where there is no probate, your distribution is not made publicly available.

The downside is that AET and JPT are more expensive and complicated to set up and maintain.… [Read more]

When going through the estate planning process, an important aspect is appointing a guardian for your minor children. A guardian may be needed for your children should you die or lose capacity. The appointment of guardianship is accomplished by a document that is outside the Will because it could be needed before your death if you become ill.

Any person under the age of 19 in Nova Scotia is considered a minor. If you are a parent it is important to turn your mind to who you would like your child to be cared for if you become incapable of caring for them.… [Read more]

A Personal Care Directive (“PD”) is where you delegate your decision-making authority regarding your personal care and your medical decisions to a trusted loved one. The PD applies only during your life, and only applies once your capacity has been assessed and you are deemed incapable of making your own personal care and medical decisions.

The person you appoint under your PD is called your Delegate. Your Delegate is usually a trusted family member such as a spouse, sibling, or adult child.

Once you appoint your Delegate, speak to them about your wishes and philosophy surrounding your personal and end of life care.… [Read more]

The Enduring Power of Attorney (“POA”) applies during your lifetime and ends on your death. The person you appoint in the POA is called the Attorney. The POA can be used by the Attorney when you are unable or unavailable to act for yourself in a financial or legal capacity. Your Attorney may act in situations if you become incapable of making financial and legal decisions. Your Attorney may also be instructed by you to act while you are still competent, but are physically unable to complete certain tasks. Your POA can be as broad or as specific as your needs require and you’ll review those options with your lawyer.… [Read more]

Do I need a Last Will and Testament?

YES! Every person should have a Last Will and Testament (“Will”). No matter how many assets you have or what your net worth is, every person should have a Will because your Will appoints a person to wrap up your affairs. Even if there are few assets to distribute, you will save your loved ones the cost and time of applying to the court to be appointed as your Personal Representative.

A Will takes effect on death, which means you can always change your Will during your life, so long as you are competent.… [Read more]

We know it can sometimes feel like a foreign language when addressing legal matters. Below are terms and acronyms commonly used in estate planning:

  • Will: Last Will and Testament.
  • Personal Representative: The person named in a Will to act on your behalf; also can be called an “Estate Trustee”.
  • Executor and Executrix: The older gendered terms for the person named in a Will to act on your behalf.
  • POA: Short for Power of Attorney.
  • Donor: In your own POA you are a “Donor” because you are giving the authority to act.
  • Attorney: The person named in a POA to act on your behalf.
[Read more]

The term “estate planning” encompasses more than simply writing a Last Will and Testament. A Will is an important aspect of estate planning, but it is only one piece of the puzzle. The act of estate planning is ensuring your affairs are as organized as possible so that on your incapacity or death, your loved ones will be set up as best as possible to tackle the situation.

Depending on how complex your financial and professional situation is, you may require more than just your lawyer. Your accountant, insurance advisor, and financial advisor will also be involved. As tax laws become more confusing and complex, estate planning also becomes more complex.… [Read more]

From the front page of today’s Chronicle Herald. Erin O’Brien Edmonds, QC, TEP ( and Dianna Burns ( are here to meet your real estate and estate planning needs.

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