Click on a topic below to learn more.
Seniors’ Navigator Project
- To encourage people to make a personal directive using LISNS free Personal Directive App and provide help by telephone from a volunteer.
- To recruit, train and support community volunteers (senior navigators) who assist people by telephone with using the online Personal Directive App.
LISNS has free online personal directive training for senior navigators and an online matching platform to connect people to a senior navigator to receive help
email: [email protected]
- Organizations help promote the program and volunteer opportunity
- Project is funded by NS Department of Seniors and New Horizons for Seniors
- Staff of community focused organizations complete the free online training
- The online training is done at your own pace
- The feedback will help us offer the best training possible
- No obligation to sign up on the navigator database
- The program will expand soon to include wills and power of attorney
CONTACT: [email protected] for more information
Take the Free Online Training
Anyone who wishes to learn more about making a personal directive and possibly helping others is encouraged to complete the free online training at https://navigator.legalinfo.org/ (click the tab “become a navigator”) and a certificate of completion is available (signing up as a navigator upon completion is optional).
It's In Your Hands: Legal Information for Seniors and their families
Making a Will
Download this pdf Wills information page (604 KB) .
Click here to watch Dalhousie University's Schulich School of Law Professor Faye Woodman talk about "What You Need to Know About Wills"
What is a will?
A will is a legal document that lets you say what you want done with your estate after you die. Your estate is your house, land, and personal things like jewellery and artwork. A will also lets you name an executor, who is the person you name in your will to carry out your final wishes. A will has no legal effect until you die.
A person who makes a will is called a testator. The people you name in your will to get money or gifts after you die are called beneficiaries. Charities can also be beneficiaries.
What is an estate?
After you die, your assets together are called your estate.
Your assets are anything worth money. For example:
- your house or condo
- any other land you own
- bank accounts
- investment accounts and GICs
- valuable jewelry
- valuable artwork
- other household and personal items
- your vehicles.
Pets are also assets, as the law thinks of animals as personal property.
Assets that are not part of your estate
Your estate typically excludes:
- assets with a named beneficiary. Here are some examples:
- registered savings accounts that let you name someone to get the money directly, like RRSPs, RRIFs, and tax free savings accounts (TFSA)
- pension plans
- life insurance policies.
- property that you own jointly with someone else, with right of survivorship. For example, if you and your spouse own your home as ‘joint tenants and not as tenants in common’, the home goes directly to your spouse on your death.
When you die, these types of assets are said to “pass outside the will”. For example, the bank or trust company transfers the RRSP or RRIF, or pays it out, to the beneficiary you named. This payment does not take into account tax consequences, which must be paid out of the assets that pass through your will. The same is true if you have life insurance that names a beneficiary, although typically there are no tax consequences for life insurance proceeds. If you name your estate as beneficiary instead of a person or charity, the money goes to your estate and will be distributed as you direct in your will.
Assets you share with a spouse or minor children go to the surviving owners when you die. Shared assets with anyone else, including adult children, are not automatically assumed to go the survivor owner, so you should clearly set out in writing what you want to happen with those assets on your death and who should benefit from them. For jointly owned accounts, on your death the account may legally pass to the joint owner according to the financial institution paperwork. But be aware that the joint owner may then have a legal responsibility to share that account with other beneficiaries of your estate. If you want to leave assets to family members other than your spouse or minor children by joint ownership, see a lawyer.
You should check to make sure you know how assets with a named beneficiary and shared assets are set up, and who will benefit when you die:
- Check with your bank to see how your accounts are set up if jointly owned.
- Look at the deed to any property you have (house, land, condo) to see if you own the property with another person (called 'joint tenancy with right of survivorship', which is different from tenancy-in-common), and make sur eyou understand what that means.
- Check with your bank or trust company to see who benefits from your RRSPs, RRIFs, and TFSAs, other investments, or life insurance when you die.
Also ask if you can name a back-up beneficiary (also called an “alternate beneficiary”) for those assets that permit it. If you don’t do this and the beneficiary you named dies before you or at the same time as you, these assets go into your estate and are given out based on what you say in your will, or based on the law that applies if you die without a will (Intestate Succession Act).
If you are not sure about who will benefit from these assets when you die, see a lawyer.
Debts and your estate
If you owe debts when you die, like unpaid credit card bills and income tax, your executor must first pay your debts out of what is in your estate. Only what is left after all debts are paid may then be given out based on what you say in your will.
Secured debts (for example, a mortgage) and a surviving married spouse’s or registered domestic partner's interest in the matrimonial home have priority.
If the estate does not have enough assets to pay all the estate debts, the estate is called insolvent. Debts for an insolvent estate must be paid in the following order of priority:
- taxes owed to the Canada Revenue Agency
- funeral expenses including a reasonable headstone
- probate taxes and court fees
- executor’s commission and legal fees (treated equally)
- reasonable medical expenses in the last 30 days of the will-maker’s life
- all other debts.
Why make a will?
It is a good idea to have a will, even though Nova Scotia law does not say that you must make one. Making a will should give you peace of mind. A will makes it easier for family or friends to handle your affairs when you die.
There are many good reasons to make a will. A will lets you:
- deal with your important things the way you want to,
- give some or all of your estate to your common law partner. Without a will only married spouses and registered domestic partners inherit,
- give something to a friend, a charity, stepchild, a relative through marriage, or to someone else you care about. Without a will only married spouses, registered domestic partners, blood relatives or
legally adopted persons inherit,
- name someone who will carry out your wishes,
- name someone to care for children or others who depend on you,
- make sure your pets or other animals will be cared for,
- save money and time by stating your wishes,
- save taxes
- arrange how a business you own will be handled
- help your family and friends handle your affairs after you die,
- lessen stress for your family and friends,
- lessen confusion about your wishes, and
- prevent possible disputes over your possessions.
What happens if I die without a will?
Nova Scotia has a law called the Intestate Succession Act. This law directs what happens if a person dies without a will. Intestate means a person who dies without a will.
If you die without a will, or you have a will but it is not legally valid, your property is distributed to the people considered to be your nearest relatives as listed in the Intestate Succession Act. The rules are not flexible. The distribution may be different from what you would want.
The basic rules are:
- If you are survived by your legally married spouse and had no children all your property goes to your spouse
- If you are survived by your legally married spouse and you had one child, the first $50,000 goes to your spouse. The rest is equally divided between your spouse and child.
- If you are survived by your legally married spouse and more than one child, the first $50,000 goes to your spouse. One-third of the rest would go to your spouse, and two-thirds of the rest to your children.
- If you are survived by your children, but no legally married spouse, your whole estate would go to your children, with each getting an equal share.
- If you had no legally married spouse or children, your whole estate would go to your nearest relatives by blood or adoption, by order of priority as listed in the Intestate Succession Act. Relatives by marriage are not included.
- Your estate would only be paid to the government if you have no surviving relatives in your family tree.
A surviving legally married spouse will always get up to $50,000 from the estate before anyone else. If your surviving legally married spouse is not a joint owner of the family home, they may choose to take the home and household contents instead, or as part of, the $50,000.
The Intestate Succession Act gives no protection for common law partners, stepchildren, or grandchildren. So, it is especially important to make a will if you want your common law partner, stepchildren, or grandchildren to inherit something from your estate when you die.
- If you die without a will, only your surviving married spouse or registered domestic partner can inherit. Common law partners are not included as a 'spouse' under the Intestate Succession Act. Your common law partner will not automatically inherit your property or money that is only in your name. Your common law partner may have to go to court to make a claim on your estate, and may not be successful.
- If you die without a will, only your biological and adopted children can inherit. Stepchildren are not included. They would have to go to court to make a claim on your estate, and they may not be successful.
- If you die without a will, your grandchildren will only inherit from your estate if their parent (your child) died before you.
If you die without a will, there will be extra steps in the process of settling your estate, which will mean additional costs and delays. This may add to your family’s pain and distress. It will also mean that there will be less left to distribute.
Family members may disagree and argue about how you intended to distribute your property.
Someone will have offer to look after your estate. The person must apply and be appointed by a court as an administrator. That person may not be someone you would have chosen. That person will have to be bonded for 1.5 times the value of your estate, which is often costly and can be challenging to put in place.
The intestate law also applies if you do not deal with all your property in your will, either intentionally or unintentionally. In this case you are said to die partially intestate. The part of your estate not covered in your will is distributed according to the Intestate Succession Act.
Note: If you are a person registered under the Indian Act (status Indian) who usually lives on a reserve or Crown lands and you die without a will, the federal Indian Act determines who will settle your estate and who will receive your assets. The distribution is a bit different from Nova Scotia’s Intestate Succession Act. In general an estate worth $75,000 or less goes to the surviving spouse, including a common law spouse, and if it is over $75,000 it is divided among the surviving spouse and children in portions that vary depending on how many children there are. If there is no spouse or children, other family members can inherit.
Wills for persons registered under the Indian Act who usually live on reserve
The federal Indian Act has rules for making wills that apply to persons registered under the Indian Act who usually live on reserve or on Crown lands. The Indian Act does not apply if you have status under the Indian Act and live off-reserve, or if you do not have status under the Indian Act and live on-reserve. Provincial laws apply instead.
If you have status under the Indian Act and ordinarily live on a reserve or Crown lands, you can get information about making a will from:
- Indigenous Services Canada online canada.ca/en/indigenousservices-canada.html, under ‘Treaty annuities, estates and trusts’, and ‘Estate services for First Nations’
- the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq (CMM), Mi’kmaw Wills and Estates series which includes:
1. Book One: How to Write a Will
2. Book Two: How to Settle an Estate
3. Book Three: How to Write a Power of Attorney and Personal Directive
4. Mi’kmaq Wills and Estates & Matrimonial Real Property.
Go to cmmns.com/program/wills-estates/ for more information.
- a lawyer who does wills and estates law, and who knows about Aboriginal law and the rules that apply to wills for persons registered under the Indian Act who usually live on reserve.
Do I need a will if my partner or spouse has one?
Yes, especially if you own anything on your own and if you want someone specific to inherit it. This includes items of sentimental or personal value, such as keepsakes, or plans, such as arranging for the care of pets and other animals in your care. You might die before your partner or spouse, or you could die at the same time in an accident. A will is the best way to let your wishes be known. You can each have a will that mirrors the other’s will. Mirror wills are separate wills with identical terms.
Do I have to hire a lawyer to write my will?
A will is a powerful legal document. In Nova Scotia you can write a will with the help of a lawyer or without a lawyer; the law does not say that a lawyer must write your will.
However, it is always best to have a lawyer write or at least review your will. A lawyer will help you make sure what you want is set out clearly and in proper order. A lawyer can save a lot of trouble and expense for the people who should benefit from your will and for the person you name as your executor.
You should have a lawyer read any document that may affect your will. Examples are a separation agreement, shareholder agreement, court order, or beneficiary designations you make on investments and life insurance.
You should talk with a lawyer no matter what you put in your will. But some situations are more difficult than others. Having a clear will makes all the difference in the world to the people who depend on you.
Your will must be worded carefully. A lawyer can:
- make sure your will clearly describes your wishes
- make sure your will follows the law
- help you deal with things that you might not have thought about
- tell you what you can do now to make it easier for your executor to deal with your estate after you die
- answer any questions about the process of dealing with your estate
- give proof in the future that you made your will by your own free choice, without pressure from anyone else, and
- give proof in the future that you had testamentary capacity (were “of sound mind”) to make your will.
A lawyer can also help with problems like:
- Family pressure. You might feel that a family member or other person is pressuring you to leave money or property to them in your will. You can talk to a lawyer about this.
- Worries about family members. You might worry that someone who depends on you will not be able to manage their financial affairs if you die before them. In these cases, you can talk with the lawyer about how to best provide for that person.
What does it cost for a lawyer to do a will?
Lawyers usually charge a fee based on how much legal service you need and how complex the will is. The cost to do a will can begin at less than $400 and go up. Lawyers often charge a flat fee for doing a will. Some lawyers offer estate planning package deals.
In a package deal, the lawyer might write your will, a power of attorney, and a personal directive and charge a lower cost than for doing the three individual documents at separate times. You should talk about fees before you decide to hire a lawyer. You should talk over the cost if you prepare the will yourself or if you want the lawyer to prepare it.
Please contact us to see if we can put you in touch with a lawyer who does wills & estates work, or go here for other ways to find a lawyer.
Common parts of a will
The will contains your instructions about what you want done with your property after you die. The language should be clear and simple, so no one is confused about what you meant.
A will should have several sections, called clauses:
The will should say that you revoke, or cancel, all previous wills and codicils. A codicil is a document that changes a will.
Appointment of an Executor
In your will, you should name someone as your executor and name a back-up executor. Your executor carries out your wishes as set out in your will when you die. Your executor must make sure they know what all your assets and debts are, pay your debts out of your assets, and then distribute what is left in your estate based on your instructions in your will.
More information about the executor's role is below, at 'Who looks after my will when I die?'
Disposal of Property (Specific Gifts)
This section of the will says who will get specific property (for example, a cottage, an antique car, valuable artwork, valuable jewelry, a specific amount of money) or property generally, and under what conditions.
A will comes into force only after your death. Until you die, you can deal with your property as you wish. For example, if you leave your cottage to your niece in your will, you could still sell it before you die and use the money as you wish. The will can only dispose of property that you still own at the time of your death.
As well, if you are leaving property to someone, you may want to say what should happen if they die before you or at the same time. For example, if you leave the cottage to your cousin, do you want your cousin's children to inherit it if your cousin dies before you or do you want the property to go to someone else?
Your will should include a residuary clause. This clause says what you want done with all your assets that are left after taxes, debts and expenses are paid and specific gifts have been given out.
If your will does not have a residuary clause, the remaining property (called the residue) will be treated as if you had died without a will. This means it will be distributed according to a provincial law called the Intestate Succession Act.
A will may contain other clauses to suit your needs. For example, you may want to recommend a guardian for your children (although it is better to do that in separate child guardianship document), name a caregiver for your pets and leave that person a gift of money to thank them or to help with the expenses of taking care of your pet, create a trust fund, or set out the powers of the executor.
Legal requirements of a will
The Nova Scotia Wills Act has certain legal requirements to make a will valid. Your will must meet all the legal requirements to be valid. The legal requirements are listed below.
Age: In Nova Scotia, you must be 19 years old or older to make a will. There are a few exceptions. For example, a person under 19 can make a will if they are or were married.
Capacity: You must be mentally competent to make a will. It is also called having testamentary capacity. This basically means that at the time you sign your will you must:
- know that you are making a will and understand what a will is,
- know what property you own and have a general idea what it is worth
- know how much money you owe; and
- be able to name the people in your family you should gift your estate to (even if you do not intend to), and other people you wish to leave something.
If you lose capacity after you have made your will, the will is still valid. You should make your will while you are in good health so that your capacity to make one is not questioned. Whether you are capable of making a will can be questioned:
- if your ability to think clearly is affected by illness (including dementia or Alzheimer’s) or pain
- if you are taking drugs
- if you feel pressured to write a will because someone is insisting that you do one. A will must be made without pressure or influence by anyone, including people you might rely on to help you financially, for housing, or for personal needs and health care.
This is not a complete list. But it gives you a sense of the challenges that are often made to the validity of a will. And more than one of those criteria may apply to any situation.
Even if you have some trouble understanding information or lack some decision-making ability, you might still be able to meet the legal standards to make a will. A health problem that affects your thinking matters, but it is not the only thing that matters. For example, someone in the early stages of Alzheimer's who has a bit of trouble with thinking and reasoning might still be capable of making a will. Whether you are capable of making a will is a legal question, not a medical one. However, if that is your situation you should get help from a lawyer who does estate planning and who has experience working with people who have some decision-making, reasoning, or memory problems. You might still be able to do a will under the right circumstances and with the information explained in a way that you are able to understand.
If you don’t have testamentary capacity, or you are pressured or influenced by anyone else to do one, you should not make a will. If you do make one, someone could challenge your will in court, and your will would probably not be valid. In that case, you would be considered to have died without a will.
Knowledge: You must know and approve of the contents of your will. The will may be invalid if you were misled by fraud or simply by accident. It may also be invalid if someone put pressure on you to do your will or put certain clauses in it. This is called undue influence.
Written: A will must be in writing, but it does not have to be typed: it can be handwritten or printed. However, video, audio or digital recording, or any other way of communicating your wishes, are not considered to be valid wills.
Signature: You must sign your will at the end. You must sign it in front of two adult witnesses who must be present with you at the same time, unless it is a holograph will. If you cannot sign the will, you can ask someone to sign it for you in front of you and you must tell the two witnesses that the will is yours.
When you are signing your will, you should put your initials on each page and number the pages so that pages cannot be replaced or removed from the will.
You should put the date on your will.
Witnessed and signed by two other people: Your two witnesses must also sign the will in front of you and in front of each other. Your witnesses should also initial each page. The witnesses must be at least 19 years old. They must not be beneficiaries or be married to someone who is a beneficiary. The witnesses do not need to know what your will says.
You should also arrange for at least one of the witnesses to swear an Affidavit of Execution.
What is an Affidavit of Execution?
An affidavit of execution is a sworn statement that the witness saw you sign your will on a particular date and that you signed in front of both witnesses.
An affidavit of execution can be made any time after you sign your will. It is best to do it right after the will is signed because witnesses might move away or die before you after the will is signed. After your death, your executor can use the affidavit in court to show that the will was properly signed and witnessed. If there is no affidavit, the executor will have to find one of the witnesses and have the witness swear an affidavit when the executor applies to Probate Court for authority to act on the
instructions in your will.
The witness must sign the affidavit of execution in front of a lawyer or a notary public.
You can see an affidavit of execution on the Nova Scotia Courts website, under Probate Court forms. Look for “Affidavit of Execution of Will or Codicil.”
Can I choose who gets my property?
In most cases, you are free to deal with your property as you wish. However, Nova Scotia laws place some limits on how you may distribute your property in your will. The laws expect you to give your dependents a fair share of your estate. Those laws are the Testators’ Family Maintenance Act and the Matrimonial Property Act.
Testators’ Family Maintenance Act
This law tries to make sure that you leave your dependents with money and support whenever possible. Under this law, dependents are your children of any age, including legally adopted children, and surviving married spouse or registered domestic partner.
Common law spouses, divorced spouses, and step-children who have not been legally adopted are not dependents under this law.
If you leave a dependent out of your will, or leave them less than expected, they can go to court to make a claim for support from your estate. The judge thinks about all the circumstances of a case in deciding whether to give support to your dependents. They include:
- whether a dependent deserves help (what is their character and conduct),
- whether there is any other help available to the dependent,
- the dependent’s financial situation,
- any services the dependent provided to you, and
- your reasons for not providing for your dependent in the will. It helps if you put the reasons in writing and sign the document or include the reasons for leaving someone out in your will.
This is not a complete list. The judge may take other factors into account. The application for support must be made within six months after probate or administration of the estate has been granted. A person who wants to apply for support or make a claim to property under this law should talk with a lawyer.
This law recognizes that both spouses contribute to a marriage. The law says that when one spouse dies, the surviving spouse can apply to court for a division of the matrimonial assets, in addition to any other rights of the spouse under the will or on intestacy. The surviving spouse must apply to the Supreme Court. The surviving spouse must apply for division within six months after the court has granted probate or administration of the estate. Anyone who wants to make an application should first talk with a lawyer.
A judge decides what share of the matrimonial property the surviving spouse should get.
Common-law spouses are not covered by this law unless you have a registered domestic partnership. Then they are included from the date you registered the partnership.
The Testators' Family Maintenance Act and Matrimonial Property Act say you are responsible to provide for your family and dependents, but otherwise you are generally free to deal with your property as you wish. You may decide to leave your estate to someone other than your closest relatives. You may decide to leave it to some family members but not to others. If you want to do these things, you should get advice from a lawyer and record your reasons in writing.
Who looks after my will when I die?
Your executor looks after your will when you die. An executor is the person or corporation you name to carry out the terms of your will. Your executor must make sure they know what all of your assets and debts are, pay your debts out of your assets, and then distribute what is left in your estate based on your instructions in your will. Your executor must follow the instructions in your will as closely as possible. However, they will not be able to follow instructions that are illegal, impossible, or would harm someone. Some types of court orders and contracts may also affect whether your instructions can be followed.
The executor’s job includes:
- paying off your debts with money from your estate,
- giving your assets to your beneficiaries according to your wishes as set out in your will.
Your executor may also have to do paperwork for the Nova Scotia court that deals with estates, called Probate Court.
An executor is also sometimes called a trustee. This is because they have legal title to your assets after you die, while they are managing your estate, until they distribute everything to the beneficiaries you name in your will. The executor must also file your final tax returns, and the Income Tax Act calls your executor a trustee. And, if you leave property to anyone who can’t manage their own finances (like minor children), the executor may manage the property for that beneficiary as trustee for them too.
If you do not name someone to be an executor in your will or if you die without a will, your next of kin will usually ask the Probate Court to appoint someone to fill the executor's role. This person is called an administrator, and Nova Scotia’s Probate Act says who can apply to do that job.
The court uses the term personal representative for people who are appointed as an executor or an administrator.
It is best to name an executor in your will. It is also wise to name at least one back-up executor. That way, you can be sure that someone you know and trust will handle your estate. Also, you can give your executor broader power to make decisions and to act for you than the Probate Court will give to an administrator.
Who should I choose as an executor?
- must be 19 years of age or older
- must be mentally competent
- should live in Canada to avoid tax issues, and ideally in Nova Scotia.
Most people ask a family member or a close friend to act as their executor. You need to be sure that the person you choose has the time and the ability to carry out the many duties of an executor. The executor should be someone who will get things done. Looking after an estate can be difficult and it takes time. Sometimes it includes responsibilities that last for years.
Being an executor can be a big job, so choose someone who is organized and who knows when they need to seek professional advice.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- The best executor is a trustworthy, reliable, and competent adult.
- Think about choosing someone who is likely to outlive you.
- Choose someone who lives in your province to cut down on expenses.
- Your executor should live in Canada to avoid tax issues.
- Your spouse, a friend, family member, or heir may be able to do a good job as executor. Many people choose their spouse or main heir as executor.
- Your executor can also be a beneficiary.
- Think about choosing someone who knows about banking and business affairs.
- You should name a back-up executor in case your first choice dies, moves away, or for some reason cannot do the job.
If you do not have someone suitable to be your executor, you may be able to name a trust company, a professional advisor (lawyer, accountant, sometimes an investment advisor), or the Nova Scotia Public Trustee. You should talk with them first; they do not have to accept this role and some professional advisors cannot or simply won't. You must check first with the Office of the Public Trustee if you want them to act as your executor.
Any executor you name may charge your estate to do the work.
Can I choose a trust company to act as my executor?
Your estate may be complicated. You might not have a relative or friend who is able to act as executor. What else can you do? You may want to name a trust company as your executor. You should check that the company is willing to act as executor or co-executor. If you do not check, the company may not act as executor when you die. The pros of using a trust company as executor are:
- They may be able to help you plan to save taxes and avoid problems.
- They are strictly regulated, so you can be sure they will handle your estate properly and legally.
- They would be a neutral executor if you think your heirs will disagree about your will.
- The company may give you free advice on drafting your will and may store it for you.
The cons of using a trust company are:
- They may charge up to 5 per cent in fees (although any executor may charge your estate to do the work.)
- They can be conservative investors.
- They may not know your assets as well as a family member or friend.
- They may not know your dependents as well as a family member or friend.
- They may not be as flexible with your dependents as a private person could be.
- The taxes for their fees are paid from the estate.
Before you choose an executor, think about the time involved in administering your estate.
For example, if you want to set up a trust for the care, education, and benefit of your children or grandchildren, this would be a long-term commitment for an executor. In a case like this, you may want to consider a trust company rather than someone who might not be able to make such a commitment or who might die before the funds in the trust have all been distributed.
Can the person I choose as executor refuse the position?
Yes. A person named in your will as executor can refuse to act as executor. This is called renouncing.
Talk with the person you want to be your executor before you name them in your will. Ask if they are willing to do this for you. Just because an executor is named in your will does not mean that they are required to act on your behalf.
As well as asking someone to be your executor, you should ask another person to be a back-up executor in case your executor cannot or will not act, due to death, moving away, or for some other reason.
If the executor you named in your will refuses or is unable to act, and you have not named a back-up executor, your next of kin will have to apply to the court to appoint someone else. This causes delays and could cost money.
Can I appoint joint executors?
Yes. You can appoint more than one executor (called co-executors) to share the responsibility. Co-executors must make decisions together. Each co-executor has the authority to sign documents for your estate unless your will says something different. One possible problem is that they may disagree about what to do. Since either can sign documents, this could cause problems for your estate.
Before naming co-executors to act together, consider whether your executors will work well together, and whether they will both be in the same geographic area when they must deal with your estate. Co-executors must make decisions together. They must agree on all decisions.
It is a good idea to talk with a lawyer if you want to appoint two or more executors to act together.
What does the executor do after I die?
The executor’s job is to gather together all of your assets, pay your debts and taxes, and distribute your money and property according to your instructions in your will. The executor may have to apply to the Probate Court for authority to deal with your estate. This authority is called a grant of probate. It gives the executor power to handle your estate according to the terms of your will.
What is a holograph will?
A holograph will is a wholly handwritten will signed by the testator (the person who made the will), but not witnessed.
Before August 19, 2008 holograph wills were not valid in Nova Scotia. Then the law was changed, and a holograph will made after August 19, 2008 is now legal. The courts have ruled that a holograph will made before August 19, 2008 is not valid.
If you have a holograph will, you should check with a lawyer to make sure it is valid.
What happens if my intentions are unclear in my will?
If your will is unclear when you die, your family may have to go to court to sort out your estate. Your executor will have to talk to a lawyer.
Should I put my burial wishes in my will?
Burial instructions are not legally binding. They are considered an expression of your wishes.
Your executor might not read your will until after your funeral and burial, so they might not see your instructions before the funeral and burial happen.
If you are going to put your burial wishes in writing, it is better to do that in a separate document and tell the people who need to know where to find it.
Speak with your executor and family members to make sure they know what you want. Your executor is legally responsible to make your funeral arrangements, so this discussion is especially important if your executor is not a family member or there are different expectations among family members about how best to honour you.
Read Planning Your Funeral for more information.
Things to do after you make your will
Keep your will and the affidavit of execution where they will not be damaged by things like pets, mold, a fire, or flooding. A safe place to store your will is a fire-proof metal box like a filing cabinet or cash box. If you hired a lawyer to write your will, you can ask them to keep a copy as well.
Tell your executor exactly where your will is. Only an original will is valid in Nova Scotia and in most other places, so it is very important for your executor to have the original will when you die.
Keep an up-to-date, detailed record of your assets (including accounts, insurance policies, investments) and debts with your will or where your executor can find it easily.
Keep an up-to-date, detailed list with the contact information for all the beneficiaries you have named in your will, especially if the primary or back-up executor you name does not know everyone personally.
Look at your will every few years or any time you have a major event in your life, like a marriage, new common law relationship, separation, divorce, the birth of a child, a move outside Nova Scotia, or the death of a beneficiary.
You should also regularly review any property you own jointly with someone else, and assets with a named beneficiary, such as pension plans, life insurance, RRSPs, RRIFs, TFSA, to make sure they still do what you want them to.
If you decide that you want to change your will, you can cancel (revoke) it by destroying it or by making a new will. If you make a new will, destroy the old one so there is no confusion about which version should be used. See 'Cancelling your will' below for more information.
Wherever you decide to keep your will, you should tell the people in your life who need to know about it where to get it when it is needed.
Can I change my will?
You can change your will at any time up until you die as long as you are mentally competent and are not being influenced or pressured by anyone else to make those changes. You should look at your will from time to time to make sure it is still what you want. For example, you may no longer own property mentioned in your will. You may want to make changes because of births, adoptions, deaths, marriages, new common law relationships, separations or divorces in the family.
There are two usual ways to change your will:
- The best way is to make a new will. The first clause of a new will usually say that it revokes (cancels) any previous wills. The most recent will, as long as it is properly signed and witnessed, is the one that will be used following your death.
- You can write a separate document called a codicil to change part of your will. A codicil must name the will being changed, including a reference to the date the will was signed. It must clearly say which clauses of the will are being removed or changed and clearly set out the new terms of the will. The codicil should also say that apart from the changes it makes, you confirm the terms of the original will. You must sign the codicil and have your signature witnessed in the same way as your will. But codicils should be avoided. A codicil is generally used only to make very minor changes to a will. Make a new will if you wish to make major changes to your will or if you already have one codicil. Codicils are frequently lost and frequently written improperly. They are a hold-over from a time before computers, when wills were handwritten or typed, and it was faster to write a codicil.
Never change your will by marking or crossing out words in the will. Instead, make a new will.
You must be mentally competent at the time you make changes to your will. You must also not be influenced or pressured by anyone else to make the changes. If it is found that you were not competent or were influenced to make the changes, your new will or codicil may be successfully challenged in court.
Cancelling your will
There are five ways to cancel your will, or parts of your will. This is called revoking a will.
- If you get married, your will is no longer valid unless it says it is made as you prepare to marry that person, and that you want it to stay valid after the marriage. This is called being made 'in contemplation' of marriage.
- If you get divorced, parts of your will are no longer valid. In Nova Scotia, divorce revokes the parts of a will that give a gift to a former spouse, provide a benefit to a former spouse, or appoint the former spouse as executor. There are exceptions: the will, a separation agreement, or marriage contract may say that these parts of your will are not affected by a divorce.
- You can make a written document saying that you want to cancel the will. You must sign it and have it witnessed in the same way as a will. For example, in one case a bank manager had a person’s will. The person became ill and signed a letter to the bank manager that said: “Please destroy the will I have already made out.” The person had signed the letter in front of witnesses, and the letter cancelled the will.
- You can make a new will. A properly done codicil cancels clauses in a will.
- You can destroy the will or ask another person to destroy it in your presence. If your will is accidentally destroyed (for example, by a fire in which you die) a copy of the will can be used as long as there was no intention to cancel your will. However, a judge would need to give consent for the copy to be used, as the legal starting point (presumption) is that only an original will may be used in Nova Scotia for probate and estate administration.
Is a will made outside Nova Scotia valid in Nova Scotia?
Your will may be valid if it was made outside Nova Scotia. You should have it checked by a lawyer to see that it meets the requirements of Nova Scotia law.
Where can I get more information on making a will?
You can contact the Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia for free legal information.
Where can I get more information on probate?
The Probate Courts in Nova Scotia make information available to the public. You may get copies of the forms by visiting or by calling your local Probate Court office or by going to the Courts of Nova Scotia website, courts.ns.ca.
The information available from the Probate Court includes:
- The Probate Act - Questions and answers
- Dealing with an estate
- Grant of probate - checklist
- Grant of administration with will annexed - checklist
- Grant of administration - checklist
- Passing the accounts of an estate in Probate Court - checklist
- How to prepare the final account of the personal representative
Finding a lawyer who does wills
It is a good idea to speak with a lawyer who focuses on estate planning, and if possible a lawyer who has a Trust and Estate Practitioner or “TEP” designation. The Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia's Lawyer Referral Service may be able to refer you to a lawyer who does wills. Go here for other ways to find a lawyer in private practice who does wills and estates work.
Last reviewed: March 2023
Reviewed for legal accuracy by: Jessica Lyle, TEP
Power of Attorney (Property and finances)
By writing a power of attorney, you can give another adult authority to take care of your finances and property matters for you.
This page gives legal information about Nova Scotia's Powers of Attorney Act, including changes to that law that came into effect on July 5 2022. It explains the law in a general way. It is not legal advice.
WHAT IS A POWER OF ATTORNEY AND WHY YOU NEED ONE
What is a power of attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal document that lets you give someone you trust power to look after your finances and property for you. This could include the power to manage your land, house, bank accounts, investments, vehicles and anything else you own, paying your bills, filing your tax returns, cashing your cheques, and making other legal or financial decisions.
Giving someone power of attorney doesn’t limit you from making your own decisions —you still have control of your financial affairs and are free to deal with your property, money and investments, as long as you have capacity to make those decisions.
If you give someone the power to take care of your financial and property matters, you are called the donor. The person you give this power to is called the attorney, even if they aren’t a lawyer. You can name one attorney, or more than one attorney.
A power of attorney is for financial and property matters only. A personal directive is for health and other personal care decisions. See the page on Health and Other Personal Care decisions for information about personal directives.
Why would I need a power of attorney?
Power of attorney is a way for you to plan ahead and choose someone you trust who will act for you and deal with your finances and property if you can’t act for yourself, or if you just need someone to help you with your finances for a short time.
Here are some reasons to make a power of attorney:
- You do not feel able or are too sick to manage your financial affairs and you need someone to take over for you until you get better.
- You can’t get around very well and you want someone to help with banking such as depositing or withdrawing money from your bank account.
- You are travelling or working away from home and you want to allow someone to manage your property and/or financial affairs while you are away.
- You have an illness that may reduce your ability to make decisions or to move around in the future, and you want to plan ahead for that.
- You want to make arrangements now while you are well and capable, to prepare for the unexpected. Capable means able to understand decisions about your property and financial affairs and able to make important decisions about these things. If something like an accident should happen which limits your ability to manage your finances and property or to get around, the power of attorney can be used to help you with decisions about your property and finances.
- If you do not make an enduring power of attorney and you become incapable to take care of your finances and property, someone may need to apply to court to ask to be named as your representative to handle your finances and property. This is a court process under a law called the Adult Capacity and Decision-Making Act. The process is expensive and takes time. The representative might not be the person or people that you would have chosen to take care of your affairs. The court would decide what powers your representative would have and what decisions they could make on your behalf. A power of attorney is more cost effective than a court order, and you can choose who you want to take care of your finances and property, and what powers they will have.
Powers of attorney for persons registered under the Indian Act who ordinarily live on reserve
The federal Indian Act has rules for making powers of attorney that apply to persons registered under the Indian Act who ordinarily live 'on reserve'. The Indian Act does not apply if you have status under the Indian Act and live off-reserve, or if you do not have status under the Indian Act and live on-reserve. Provincial laws apply instead.
If you have status under the Indian Act and ordinarily live on a reserve, you can get information about powers of attorney from:
- Indigenous Services Canada online canada.ca/en/indigenous-services-canada.html, under ‘Treaty annuities, estates and trusts’, then 'Estate Services for First Nations'
- the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq (CMM) has a Mi’kmaw Wills and Estates series which includes:
- Book One: How to Write a Will
- Book Two: How to Settle an Estate
- Book Three: How to Write a Power of Attorney and Personal Directive
- Mi’kmaq Wills and Estates & Matrimonial Real Property
Go to cmmns.com/program/wills-estates/ for more information.
- a lawyer who works in the area of wills and estates law, and who knows about Aboriginal law and the rules that apply to power of attorney for persons registered under the Indian Act who ordinarily live on reserve or on Crown lands.
Do I need power of attorney if I have a will?
Yes. A power of attorney is different from a will. Power of attorney only applies while you are alive. A will applies only after you die—it says what happens to your money and things after you die, and gives your executor authority to look after your estate. Even if your estate is small there are final matters to deal with when you die, such as filing final tax returns, paying final bills, and closing your bank accounts. See the page on Making a Will for more information.
Does power of attorney cover health and other personal care decisions?
Power of attorney does not usually tell others how to make health or other personal care decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself.
Health and other personal care decisions are usually covered in a separate legal document called a personal directive that allows you to give someone you trust authority to make health or other personal care decisions for you if you cannot make those decisions yourself. A personal directive covers personal care decisions such as medical treatment, where you want to live, activities that are important to you, and who you want to visit you. A personal directive allows you to name someone called a delegate to help make these types of decisions for you. You may also give instructions for the delegate to follow when they make personal care decisions. Go here to learn about personal directives.
What is an enduring power of attorney?
An enduring power of attorney is a type of power of attorney. With an enduring power of attorney your attorney's power continues, or endures, after you can no longer make your own property and financial decisions. This is called losing capacity. An enduring power of attorney document must clearly state that the attorney's authority continues after the donor loses capacity. If it does not state that, the attorney's power ends if you lose capacity. For example, an enduring power of attorney may say something like the following:
This enduring power of attorney becomes effective immediately and may be exercised during any period of legal incapacity I may suffer. It is an enduring power of attorney within the meaning of the Powers of Attorney Act.
An enduring power of attorney makes sure your attorney can act and make decisions if you lose capacity to manage your property and finances. It is the most common type of power of attorney in Nova Scotia, because it allows you to plan for the future. It gives you peace of mind knowing that you have appointed someone you trust to manage your finances and property if you cannot.
When does an enduring power of attorney take effect?
You can choose when your enduring power of attorney takes effect. In other words, you say in your power of attorney when your attorney is allowed to start acting for you.
You have two choices:
1) Takes effect as soon as it is signed and witnessed
Your attorney's power may take effect right away on the date your enduring power of attorney is signed and witnessed, and your attorney can start acting any time after that. Your attorney will be able to continue to act if you are no longer capable of managing your property and finances.
Most enduring powers of attorney in Nova Scotia take effect right away, but may not be used right away. Your attorney may not need to act for you unless you ask them to, or until you lose capacity to managing your own affairs. If the document takes effect right away when it is signed, generally no capacity assessment would be needed in order for your attorney to start to act. Your attorney would not have to go through a formal process to prove to third parties, such as banks, that the power of attorney has come into effect. That makes it even more important to choose someone you trust to be your attorney.
If you are not comfortable allowing your attorney to determine when to start using the power of attorney to help you, there are ways to add more protection:
- you can ask if your lawyer will keep the original document for you (called ‘holding it in trust’) and only release it when it is clear that it is necessary, or
- you can keep the original enduring power of attorney in a safe place, tell your attorney where it is, but only allow the attorney to access it when it is needed.
Talk with a lawyer about other ways to prevent abuse of your power of attorney, and see 'Monitors and other ways to prevent misuse of power of attorney' below.
2) Takes effect only if you lose capacity
Some enduring powers of attorney come into effect only when the donor is no longer capable of managing their own finances and property. This type of power of attorney is called a “springing” power of attorney because it springs into effect only when there is proof the donor has lost capacity. In that case your attorney's power would start only if you lose capacity. These are much less common, as in some cases it is difficult for a capacity assessor to confirm that the donor is completely incapable of making their own property and financial decisions. It is best to see a lawyer if you want to do this type of springing enduring power of attorney.
You can state in your power of attorney who you want to assess your capacity to make property and financial decisions. Usually you would choose a professionally qualified capacity assessor, but you can name anyone else you wish, including your attorney.
If your power of attorney does not say who you want to do the capacity assessment or if that person cannot do it, a formal capacity assessment may be done by an approved health professional, including a medical doctor or registered psychologist. Some nurse practitioners or registered nurses, occupational therapists, and social workers may also do capacity assessments if they have completed specific training developed by the Nova Scotia Public Trustee’s Office.
What is a springing or contingent power of attorney?
Unless the power of attorney says differently, a power of attorney comes into effect as soon as it is signed and witnessed. Your attorney can start acting at any time after that.
However, a springing power of attorney is a special power of attorney document that says the triggering event that will make it come into effect. For example, the triggering event could be if the donor loses capacity to make their own property and financial decisions. Another example is if a business owner needs someone else to run their business for a short time because they are going to be travelling or in hospital.
Springing powers of attorney are also sometimes called a contingent power of attorney because they only take effect when a particular triggering contingency (event) happens.
Springing or contingent powers of attorney are much less common than powers of attorney that come into effect as soon as they are signed. It is best to get legal advice from an estate planning lawyer if you want the type of power of attorney that comes into effect only when some triggering event happens.
What happens if I lose capacity and I don't have an enduring power of attorney?
If you do not have an enduring power of attorney and you lose capacity to take care of your finances and property, someone may need to apply to court to ask to be named as your representative to handle your affairs under a law called the Adult Capacity and Decision-Making Act. The court process is expensive and takes time. The person or people who apply to court to be your representative might not be who you would have chosen to take care of your affairs. The court would decide what powers your representative would get and what types of decisions they could make on your behalf.
If no one you know is able and willing to act as a representative, the Nova Scotia Public Trustee may step in to manage your financial affairs. Go to the Public Trustee website at novascotia.ca/just/pto for more information.
You can get more information about adult representation on the Nova Scotia Public Trustee’s website under “Adult Capacity and Decision-making Act”, or go to the Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia's page on Adult Representation.
Should I have an ordinary power of attorney or an enduring one?
The kind of power of attorney document you have depends on your needs. Every situation is different, so you should speak with a lawyer about what is best for you.
An ordinary power of attorney gives someone authority to take specific action for you at specific times. For example, people in the military may allow someone to handle their banking while they work outside of Canada.
Enduring powers of attorney are much more common as they allow you to plan for the future and have someone you trust to act for you when you cannot act for yourself.
If you want the person named in your power of attorney to be able to act if you lose capacity, then you will need an enduring power of attorney.
If you already have an ordinary power of attorney, talk with your lawyer about whether you should replace it with an enduring power of attorney.
MAKING A POWER OF ATTORNEY
Who can make a power of attorney?
You can make a power of attorney if:
- you are age 19 or older (an adult), and
- you are capable of understanding the nature and effects of making a power of attorney.
The law says all adults are capable of making a power of attorney, unless there is clear evidence to show they are not.
You are capable of making a power of attorney if you understand and appreciate all of the following:
- What property you own and the value. You must also have a basic idea of what things are valuable and what things are not.
- Your legal obligations to people who depend on you for financial support—your dependants. Examples are your spouse and any children under 19.
- That your attorney will be able to do almost everything that you can do with your property and finances, unless you say something different in your power of attorney document to limit their power.
- That if your attorney does not do a good job your property could lose value. You might lose money.
- That your attorney could abuse the powers you give them. Your attorney might not do what is best for you.
- That you can cancel (revoke) your power of attorney at any time if you are able to understand what it means to do that. If you have lost capacity you cannot revoke the power of attorney.
You must understand all of the above six things at the time when you sign the power of attorney document.
Sometimes a person may need help to communicate and explain their wishes. The way you communicate does not tell people whether you are capable. You may need support or help from a family member, friend, translator, interpreter, or technology to tell people about your wishes. Communicating in different ways does not mean that you cannot understand what it means to make a power of attorney.
You should make your power of attorney while you are in good health so that no one questions whether you had capacity to make one. Whether you are capable of making a power of attorney can be questioned:
- if your ability to think clearly is affected by illness (including dementia or Alzheimer’s), pain, or drugs (prescription or otherwise)
- if you feel threatened or pressured to write a power of attorney by someone who may be trying to force you to make one. Power of attorney must be made without pressure or influence by anyone, including people you might rely on to help you financially, for housing, or for personal needs and health care.
This is not a complete list. But it gives you an idea about the types of challenges that may be made to the validity of a power of attorney. And, more than one of these issues may apply to any situation.
Even if you have some trouble understanding information or lack some decision-making ability, you might still be able to make a power of attorney under the right circumstances and with the information explained in a way that you are able to understand. A health problem that affects your thinking may matter, but it is not the only issue that matters. For example, someone in the early stages of Alzheimer's who has a bit of trouble with thinking and reasoning might still be capable of making a power of attorney. Whether you are capable of making a power of attorney is a legal question, not a medical one. But if you have a medical issue that affects your ability to think clearly, you should get help from a lawyer who does estate planning and who has experience working with people who have some decision-making, reasoning or memory problems. The lawyer may require input from your doctor or a capacity assessor to determine if you have capacity to make a power of attorney before going ahead. Don't be offended if this happens. It is better to have a capacity assessment to make sure the document you make is valid and won't be challenged.
It is also very important to get help from a lawyer if you feel pressured or threatened by someone who may be insisting that you do one.
If you make a power of attorney and it is not clear if you were capable when you signed it, people might refuse to let your attorney act or make decisions for you. Also, somebody could challenge your power of attorney in court.
Other legal requirements to make a valid power of attorney
Your power of attorney must:
- be in writing
- be dated
- be witnessed by two independent adults
- be signed by you and your two witnesses at the same time
Remember—you must be a capable adult at the time you sign the document.
In writing: Your power of attorney must be a written document. A video or audio power of attorney is not valid.
Signed and Dated: You, the donor, must sign your power of attorney. It must also be dated.
If you are able to read the power of attorney document but cannot sign your name on it because of a physical disability for example, you may sign by making your mark, like an “X" or other symbol, on the signature line. A witness should sign a sworn statement saying that you made the mark in the presence of the two witnesses. The statement should be attached to your power of attorney. This statement is called an affidavit of execution.
If you can read the power of attorney but cannot sign your name or make your mark, someone else may sign the power of attorney for you. In that case the person who signs:
- must be at least 19 years old
- must be with you when they sign the document on your behalf. You must direct them to sign for you
- cannot be your attorney
- cannot be your attorney's spouse, registered domestic partner, or common-law partner
- cannot be your attorney's child.
If you cannot read the document someone must read the whole document out loud to you and your witnesses before you and your witnesses sign it or before you make your mark. A witness must sign an affidavit of execution saying that someone read the document to you and that you understood it before you signed it or made your mark on it.
Witnessed: A power of attorney must be witnessed and signed by two people who are at least 19 years old.
Your witnesses cannot be:
- your attorney
- your attorney's spouse, registered domestic partner, or common-law partner
- your attorney's child.
Your witnesses must both be with you when you sign the document and must then also sign the document in front of you. Your witnesses do not need to know what is in your power of attorney.
Other things that are a good idea to do:
The following are not legal requirements but are a good idea:
- Number each page. This helps make sure pages are not replaced or removed.
- Initial each page. Both you and your witnesses should do this.
- Affidavit of Execution. Have one of your witnesses swear an affidavit of execution.
What is an affidavit of execution?
An affidavit of execution is a sworn witness statement confirming that they saw you sign the power of attorney (or that another person signed on your behalf if you were unable to sign), and that you were at least 19 years old (an adult) when you made the power of attorney. The witness signs the affidavit of execution in front of a Commissioner of Oaths or a notary public.
An affidavit of execution can be made any time after you sign your power of attorney. It is best to do it right after the power of attorney is signed.
A Commissioner of Oaths or a notary public must confirm that the affidavit of execution is true. All lawyers are Commissioners of Oaths. You can also find Notaries Public and Commissioners of Oaths in the Yellow Pages, or go here for for ways to find one.
People often do an affidavit of execution for a power of attorney, even though the law does not say you must do one for the power of attorney to be used in all situations. But for example if you want your attorney to buy or sell land for you the Land Registration Office will need an affidavit of execution.
Does the attorney have to sign the document?
No. The attorney does not have to sign the power of attorney. But when the attorney is using the power of attorney they will have to sign documents at each bank, trust company, and credit union where you have an account that the attorney will use. Each institution will also have its own forms for you or your attorney to fill out. You will usually need a special form from your bank if you want your attorney to access your bank account(s). Contact your bank to find out what they need.
Note: When the attorney is acting for you and signs documents on your behalf they sign their own name, not your name. The attorney should include that they are acting as power of attorney.
Two examples of how an attorney would sign on your behalf are below:
Signed: John Smith, duly appointed attorney for Jane Smith, or
Signed: John Smith (power of attorney for Jane Smith).
Do I need a lawyer to write a power of attorney?
The law does not say that a lawyer must write your power of attorney. But it is wise to at least speak to a lawyer about it. You can write your power of attorney yourself. You can fill in a blank form; you can buy one from a store; or you may find one online. Check to make sure any form you use follows the requirements of Nova Scotia's powers of attorney legislation.
A power of attorney is an important legal document and it must be worded carefully to make sure that it says what you want. If a lawyer makes a mistake, the lawyer's liability insurance may cover the situation.
Among other things a lawyer can:
- make sure the power of attorney is clear about how much authority you give to your attorney,
- make sure that your power of attorney covers all the steps needed to do what you want done,
- make sure the power of attorney meets all the legal requirements,
- inform you about the best clauses to provide for unexpected events,
- inform you about options for wording the power of attorney,
- inform you about steps you can take now to make it easier for your attorney to deal with your affairs later,
- inform you about steps you can take to help prevent misuse of your power of attorney,
- answer any questions you might have,
- help you understand better how power of attorney works when you lose capacity and what the attorney will be doing for you,
- provide proof that you had legal capacity when you made your power of attorney,
- provide proof that you made your power of attorney by your own free choice, and free of undue influence
- act as one of your witnesses when you sign your power of attorney
- in some cases, keep your power of attorney for you and release it only when you need your attorney to act for you.
If you decide to write your own power of attorney, ask a lawyer to look it over. Ask them to make sure that it meets all the legal requirements and allows your attorney to do what you want.
Always get a lawyer's help:
- if you do not understand the information you need to make a power of attorney
- if you cannot identify and weigh your options and understand the effect your choices may have
- if you have a health problem that affects your thinking, reasoning, decision-making or memory
- if you feel pressured to do a power of attorney because someone is insisting that you do one
- if you want a specific power of attorney for a limited purpose such as to sign a deed to your home. There is no standard form for a specific power of attorney because the wording will depend on what powers you want to give your attorney. The document must be written carefully to meet your needs
- if you want to give the attorney a fee for doing the work, especially when the attorney is not a family member.
How much will it cost?
A power of attorney form from an office supply store costs a few dollars, or you may be able to find one online. Banks do not charge a separate fee for their power of attorney forms.
The cost for lawyers’ fees will depend on your needs, how long it takes to draft the power of attorney, and the number of times the lawyer meets with you. You should ask the lawyer about their fees. Most lawyers charge a flat fee for doing a power of attorney and will often offer a flat fee package deal that would include doing your power of attorney, will, personal directive, and perhaps a child guardianship document if you have minor children. Go here for ways to find a lawyer.
- Your attorney may have out-of-pocket expenses (called disbursements), such as for postage and telephone.
- If the attorney you appoint in the power of attorney document is also your lawyer and you ask them to do legal work like buying property, they may charge for doing that work.
- The Public Trustee and trust companies charge fees for acting as your attorney. Fees are based on the value of your estate and your income.
A friend or relative is not entitled to a fee unless there is an agreement between the two of you for payment. In that case, you must include the terms of payment in the power of attorney document. If you do not they will not be entitled to a fee. Often a family member or a friend acts as an attorney without payment.
CHOOSING YOUR ATTORNEY
Who can be my attorney?
Your attorney must be:
- age 19 or older, and
- able to understand what it means to act as an attorney under a power of attorney document and the responsibilities involved.
The best attorney is a capable adult you know well and trust.
Here are some things to think about when you are choosing an attorney:
- Your spouse or partner, a family member, or a close friend may be able to do a good job. Many people choose their spouse or partner.
- Think about choosing someone who knows about money, banking and business affairs. You can also state in your power of attorney that your attorney can get help from a financial expert if they need it, and the cost is paid out of your money. The attorney must be able to keep good records and report to a monitor when requested or to a family member no more than once a year.
- Your attorney for finances and property and your decision-maker for personal care (your ‘delegate’) may not be the same person. If so, will your attorney be able to work well with your personal care decision-maker to make decisions that overlap on money and personal care issues?
- Does your attorney get along with your close family and friends? Could there be conflicts?
- Will your attorney be available when you need them to act on your behalf?
- Does your attorney live in Nova Scotia or in Canada? It is best to name an attorney who lives in Nova Scotia, or at least in Canada. Naming a non-resident of Canada can cause legal and tax problems, so talk with a lawyer if you want to do that.
If you do not wish to or can't name a family member or friend as your attorney, you may name a trust company, a professional advisor (lawyer, accountant, sometimes an investment advisor), or the Nova Scotia Public Trustee. You should talk with them first. They do not have to accept this role and some professional advisors cannot or simply won't. You must check first with the Nova Scotia Public Trustee if you want them to act as your attorney.
Who can't be my attorney?
The law says your attorney cannot be:
- anyone who is going through a bankruptcy process (called an "undischarged bankrupt"). The law says it is still okay to choose them if they tell you in writing about the bankruptcy, and while you have capacity you agree in writing that you still want them to be your attorney.
TIP: be careful about choosing an attorney who has had trouble managing money. There might be a greater risk that you will lose money and property.
- anyone who has been convicted of an offence involving dishonesty, like fraud, theft, or forgery. The law says it is still okay to choose them:
- if they have a pardon (record suspension) for that conviction; or
- if they tell you in writing about the conviction, and while you have capacity you agree in writing that you still want them to act as your attorney.
TIP: be careful about choosing an attorney who has a conviction involving dishonesty. There might be a greater risk that the attorney will misuse the power of attorney.
- anyone who is paid to provide health care or support services to you. This restriction doesn't apply if your paid caregiver is your spouse, child, sibling, or parent.
It is best to name an attorney who lives in Nova Scotia, or at least in Canada. Talk with a lawyer if you want to name a non-resident of Canada as your attorney, as this can cause legal and tax complications.
Other than those restrictions, you can choose any trusted, capable adult as your attorney.
Can I name more than one attorney?
You can choose to name more than one attorney. Be careful about doing this. While there may be some good reasons to name more than one attorney, it can also lead to conflicts, costs and delays if your attorneys disagree. Be certain there is no possibility of conflict between your attorneys before you name more than one. If attorneys disagree they might have to go to court to settle the dispute.
Tip: If you name multiple attorneys it is a good idea to have a "tie-breaker" clause in your power of attorney document to say how you want your attorneys to resolve disputes.
If you choose to name more than one attorney you can say in your power of attorney how you want them to make decisions. You might say you want them to make decisions jointly or separately:
- Jointly means that your attorneys make decisions together. If you don't say anything in your power of attorney about how your joint attorneys should make decisions, the law says they must act by majority. That means the decision of the majority of your joint attorneys will be the final one. You can choose to say in your power of attorney that your joint attorneys must make decisions by unanimous agreement, instead of by majority. Be careful about doing that. If your attorneys cannot unanimously agree about a decision, there is no simple legal procedure to resolve the dispute. If one of the attorneys resigns the remaining attorney can continue to act. Otherwise in most cases someone may need to apply to court.
Your remaining attorneys can continue to act if one or more of your joint attorneys:
- gives up the job (resigns) by giving proper notice
- loses capacity
- will not act or is unable to act
- cannot be found despite doing reasonable things to try to find them.
- Separately. The law calls this "severally". Acting separately means that each of your attorneys can make decisions for you on their own. One attorney would not have to contact any of the others and hear their opinion before making a decision or acting, unless you say in your power of attorney document that they must do that.
Name at least one back-up attorney
If at all possible name at least one alternate attorney. An alternate attorney is sometimes also called a ‘back-up’ or ‘contingent’ attorney. Your alternate attorney can take over if your original attorney or attorneys cannot or will not act from the start or becomes unable to act part way through. The alternate attorney will have the same powers as the original attorney(s). If you do not name an alternate attorney and your original attorney(s) cannot or will not act, your power of attorney will be cancelled and someone may need to apply to court to be named as your representative.
Talk with your chosen attorney(s) about the job
Talk with the person or people you want to be your attorney(s) before you name them. Ask if they are willing to do this for you. They can say no to the job. Make sure that they want the job and have the time and the ability to carry out the duties. Looking after someone else's property and finances can be difficult and it takes time. Sometimes it includes responsibilities that last for years. If they say no, you must appoint someone else.
It is a good idea to talk with your attorney about:
- your attorney’s legal duties and responsibilities. See the section on “Your Attorney’s Role” below
- how and how often you expect them to communicate with you or with others you choose
- your instructions, values, wishes, beliefs, and attitudes about money and your financial goals. This will help guide your attorney to make decisions for you
- your plans for what you want to happen with the things you own when you die.
YOUR ATTORNEY'S ROLE
Who makes decisions and how are they made?
If you give someone your power of attorney:
- you can still make your own decisions and manage your own finances and property, until you become unable to do so
- your attorney can’t override decisions you make while you’re capable of making them yourself. Your attorney must consult with you and follow your instructions
- you can revoke (cancel) your power of attorney at any time, as long as you are still capable
What if I do not have capacity to make my own decisions?
If you have an enduring power of attorney and lose capacity, your attorney must involve you in decisions about your finances and property whenever it is reasonable to do that.
Your attorney must follow these steps to make decisions:
- Follow the most recent, relevant instructions you gave when you had capacity, if any
- If you did not give your attorney instructions, your attorney must follow your current wishes, if your wishes are reasonable
- If your wishes are not reasonable or your attorney can't determine what they are, your attorney must decide as they believe you would have. Your attorney must take your beliefs and values into account when they do this
- If your attorney doesn't know what decision you would have made, your attorney must decide based on what they believe is in your best interests.
How much power can I give my attorney?
You choose what your attorney can and can't do on your behalf. Your attorney can only do what you give them authority to do. You list their powers in your power of attorney document.
You can give your attorney general powers or specific powers.
You can give your attorney broad powers over all areas of your property and finances. They would be able to do almost anything that you can do with your finances and property. With general authority an attorney would commonly be able to do things like pay your bills, manage your banking and investments, do your taxes, and buy and sell property.
You can limit what your attorney can do to a single decision, specific task or tasks, or to a specific time period.
A specific power of attorney is most often used when you can't manage your financial and property matters for a short period of time. A common example is if you need someone to sell a piece of land for you or to deal with your banking and bills for you while you are travelling. It is important that a specific power of attorney include all steps involved in the work you want done. For example, a power of attorney to buy a piece of land should include the power to sign all the needed documents and it may be time-limited for a few weeks or months.
A note about buying and selling land with a power of attorney
If you want your attorney to deal with land, your power of attorney must be recorded at the Land Registration Office where the land is located before the sale or purchase takes place. The power of attorney must be signed under seal and have an affidavit of execution. If you are working with a lawyer they will register the necessary documents.
You can find phone numbers for Land Registration Offices in the government pages of the phone book under Land Registration or visit www.novascotia.ca for locations. There is a fee to record documents. Contact staff at the Land Registration Office for information on current fees for recording documents.
Land transactions done with a power of attorney are not valid until the power is registered.
There are always some things your attorney cannot do
Your attorney cannot:
- Make a will for you
- Change or cancel (revoke) your will
- Make a new power of attorney for you
- Change a beneficiary designation on your assets, unless the court orders this or the document specifically authorizes changes
- Vote in an election for you
- Make an affidavit (sworn document) for you.
Do I have to pay my attorney?
Paying your attorney a fee for their work
Professionals such as trust companies, lawyers, or the Nova Scotia Public Trustee's Office charge fees for acting as your attorney. Fees are based on the value of your estate and your income. A friend or relative is not entitled to a fee unless there is an agreement between the two of you for payment. In that case, you must include the terms of payment in the power of attorney document. If you do not they will not be entitled to a fee. Often a family member or a friend acts as an attorney without payment.
Re-paying your attorney's expenses
Your attorney is allowed to pay themselves for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses they have for properly doing their job as your attorney, unless you say something different in your power of attorney. This is called reimbursement. Examples of expenses are taxis, government fees and court fees.
Your attorney's legal duties and responsibilities to you
Your attorney must be loyal to you
This includes all of the following duties:
- following and staying within the power you give them in the power of attorney document
- acting in good faith
- acting only in your best interests
- acting only for your benefit, unless you give informed consent for them to act to benefit someone else
- taking good care as they make decisions for you
- using reasonable care and skill
- avoiding conflicts of interest
- not making secret profits
- not profiting personally from what they do for you, or from your property, unless your power of attorney says they will be compensated for helping you.
Your attorney must involve you in decisions whenever it is reasonable to do that
Your attorney should consult with you and ask you what you want. You have a right to ask questions and to be kept informed. Remember that as long as you have capacity you can continue to manage your own finances and property and make your own decisions even when you've given someone power of attorney.
If you do not have capacity to make your own decisions, your attorney must be guided by what they know of you and by your instructions, values, wishes, beliefs, and attitudes about money. See the section "Who makes decisions and how are they made?" for more about how your attorney must make decisions.
Your attorney must give notice when they begin to act for you
When your attorney starts acting for you, your attorney must notify all of the following, in writing:
- you (the donor), and
- your monitor, if you name one in your power of attorney (See 'Monitors and Other Ways to Prevent Misuse of a POA' for more information about monitors), and
- anyone else you list in your power of attorney who you want to get notice.
If no one on the above list is capable of getting the notice, or if you don't list anyone in your power of attorney who you want notified, your attorney must notify your immediate family members and your delegate(s) under a personal directive, if you have one. Your immediate family members are your spouse, registered domestic partner or common law partner, adult child, adult sibling, or parent. You can say something different in your power of attorney if these are not the people you want your attorney to notify when they start acting for you.
Your attorney must stop acting if you lose capacity but later regain it
If you have an enduring power of attorney and are found to lack capacity to make your own decisions, but you later regain your ability to make decisions, your attorney must stop acting.
Your attorney must keep a record of what they do for you
Your attorney must keep current, detailed and accurate records of what they do for you as an attorney.
In certain situations your attorney may be required to provide a complete record of all transactions they made for you, including a statement of the things you own and what they are worth (assets) and what you owe (liabilities), and how that financial picture may have changed over the period they are reporting on. This is called giving an 'accounting'.
Financial records your attorney should keep include:
- a current list of what you own and what you owe, with known values or sensible estimates
- all bank records (account statements, withdrawals and deposit slips for all transactions, cancelled cheques, online records)
- all income tax information (notices of assessments, T4 and T5 slips, other supporting documents)
- all receipts for purchases they make when acting for you, such as parking, taxis, and, if applicable, any payments made to the attorney
- all invoices received and paid on your behalf
- other important letters and papers (examples are deeds, leases, notices from landlords and employers, insurance information).
Your attorney should always be ready to explain and account for what they do on your behalf. You can require your attorney to give you an accounting at any time. You can also require your attorney to give an accounting to others you choose, including a monitor. See the section 'Monitors and Other Ways to Prevent Misuse of a POA' for more about ways you can make sure your attorney is accountable for what they do and does not misuse the powers you give them.
Your attorney should not mix their money and property with yours
Your attorney must keep their own bank and investment accounts separate from your account(s). Your attorney should never mix their own accounts or property with yours unless that was already done with your knowledge and agreement before you lost capacity.
Your attorney should respect your estate plan whenever it is reasonable to do that
Your attorney must not dispose of assets your attorney knows are part of your estate plan, unless they need to do that in order to carry out their duties to you.
Your estate plan is your plan for what you want to happen with the things you own when you die. Your estate plan could include your will, consideration of jointly owned assets, designation of beneficiaries on life insurance, registered plans (examples: RRSPs, TFSAs, RRIFs), and trusts.
For example, if you tell the attorney what specific gifts you've listed in your will or have as part of your estate plan, your attorney should not sell or give that property away, unless they must do that to make sure your needs are met. Meeting your needs comes first.
Your attorney must not use your money to give gifts
Your attorney can give gifts using your money or property only if your power of attorney says they can.
If you say in your power of attorney that your attorney can give gifts, your attorney must still be careful. Your well-being comes first. Before giving a gift your attorney must make sure there will still be enough money to meet your personal and health care needs and to meet your legal obligations. Your attorney would not want to sell any item you have gifted in your will. For this reason think about giving your attorney a copy of your will.
Your attorney must not give their power to someone else
Your attorney must not give or 'delegate' the authority you give them to someone else. However, this restriction does not apply if you say in your power of attorney that your attorney is allowed to delegate their power to someone else.
MONITORS AND OTHER WAYS TO PREVENT OR STOP MISUSE OF POWER OF ATTORNEY
Basics about the risk of abuse
Power of attorney generally gives your attorney the power to do almost anything you can do with your finances and property. Government, banks or other third parties will rely on what's in your written power of attorney document. They will not usually contact you first to see if you approve of what the attorney is doing.
Most people who are named in a power of attorney are honest and act reasonably. They try to do a good job and help you as they said they would and live up to their obligations.
There is a risk though that the attorney could misuse or abuse that power because they believe that they know what is best for you, or they want to get money or property for themselves.
This section talks about some things you can do to help prevent or stop misuse of your power of attorney.
Name a monitor
You have the option of naming someone to review and watch over your attorney's activities and decision-making. This person is called a monitor.
A monitor can help protect your well-being and finances if your attorney misuses their authority.
A monitor may:
- visit you and communicate with you at any reasonable time
- check in with the attorney to make sure your attorney is taking good care in managing your finances and property, including asking your attorney for records of what the attorney has done on your behalf
- if you lose capacity, require that your attorney give the monitor information, records or a detailed accounting of what the attorney has done on your behalf
- apply to court to deal with any problems related to the power of attorney.
You can say in your power of attorney if there are other things you want your monitor to be able to do in overseeing your attorney.
If your monitor believes your attorney is misusing the power of attorney, the monitor must tell you and any other attorneys named in your power of attorney.
If you choose to name a monitor in your power of attorney:
- pick a capable, responsible adult you trust,
- talk with them about it first to make sure they are prepared to do it.
Your monitor cannot be your attorney or attorneys. Other than that you can choose any trusted adult to be your monitor, including someone who lives outside Canada.
Other ways to prevent misuse of a power of attorney
Here are some other things you can do help stop someone from abusing your power of attorney:
- Choose carefully. Choose an attorney you can trust who will involve you in decisions when reasonable to do that, keep you informed, and respect your instructions and wishes.
- Continue to pay attention to your financial and property affairs. Ask your attorney questions. Get regular statements and updates. Do not give up all control to that person.
- Require your attorney to give you, or someone else if you lose capacity (a monitor), regular updates on how they are managing your affairs.
- If you have a lot of savings, property, or investments, think about appointing a professional such as a lawyer or a trust company to act on your behalf. Talk with your banker or financial advisor about it. Look carefully into the costs before you make a decision.
- Think about choosing more than one attorney to act jointly. It is not likely that both will be dishonest or negligent. It is best to talk with a lawyer if you want to name two or more attorneys to act jointly.
- Give a specific rather than a general power of attorney. For example, if you need your attorney to deal with just one asset, such as a bank account, give them power to do only that. However, a general power of attorney is usually more practical and useful.
- Check your bank statements and cancelled cheques carefully. You can put a limit on the amount that your attorney can withdraw from your accounts. If the attorney wants to withdraw more than that amount, then you would have to tell your bank that you agree.
- Tell your banks, financial institutions, and investment advisor to tell you about any transactions over a set limit.
- Make a list of the things you own: your property, valuable jewellery and artwork, savings, furnishings, and investments. Keep it up to date. Give a copy to your attorney, and to at least one other person you trust (such as a monitor if you name one)
- If you have investments, arrange for your investment advisor to keep you informed about all dealings. You can also give your investment advisor the name of a Trusted Contact Person (TCP). A TCP is someone you trust who knows you well, has nothing to gain financially from you, and is not your attorney. Your investment advisor can contact your TCP if they see signs that you may be a victim of financial abuse. A TCP does not have power over your finances and does not have access to your financial information or accounts. Talk with your investment advisor or contact the Nova Scotia Securities Commission for more information about naming a TCP.
- Read the Government of Canada’s publication Powers of Attorney and Joint Bank Accounts, for more information that can help you consider and manage the risks.
- Have a lawyer who does estate planning write your power of attorney. A lawyer can inform you about steps you can take to protect yourself, and advise you about what to include in your power of attorney document to increase your protection from any abuse.
What can I do if my attorney misuses the power of attorney?
Below is a list of some things you can do if your attorney misuses the power of attorney. What you do will depend on your situation.
Talk with a lawyer or someone else you trust
At the very least, talk over your concerns with a lawyer or with someone else you trust. Get support to help you review your options and to decide what steps you want to take.
Get an accounting
Ask your attorney to give you the records detailing how they have managed your finances and property (give you an accounting). Your attorney has a legal duty to do this when you ask. Review the records or ask someone who knows about finances to review them with you. If your attorney does not give you the records you need or if the records are worrying, talk with a lawyer about ways to solve the problem. If needed you, or others on your behalf, can go to court to ask the court to order your attorney to give an accounting.
If you have an enduring power of attorney and later lose capacity, your attorney can be required to account to the following about how the attorney is managing your finances and property:
- to your monitor, if you named one, at reasonable intervals
- to your immediate family member(s), no more than once a year. This applies if you did not name a monitor, if your monitor is your attorney's spouse or partner, or if your monitor is not available or not able to ask for an accounting
- to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia and/or to the Nova Scotia Public Trustee. The court can order the attorney to account to the Public Trustee, to another person, or to the court.
Who can't get an accounting? The law says that if you and your spouse or partner separate and are ending your relationship, your spouse or partner would not be entitled to get an accounting from your attorney. You can say in your power of attorney if there is anyone else you would not want to be able to get an accounting.
Change or end your power of attorney
You can end (revoke) your attorney's authority under your power of attorney and use your back-up attorney. If you did not name a back-up attorney, you can make a new power of attorney. See the section on Changing or Ending a Power of Attorney for information on doing that.
If you no longer have capacity to change or cancel your power of attorney someone else may need to apply to court on your behalf to deal with the situation.
Go to court
You can apply to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. A lawyer can help you with that. You can go to court without a lawyer if you cannot pay one. It is a good idea to get some advice from a lawyer if you can, even if you cannot pay a lawyer for full representation.
Your monitor (if you named one), the Public Trustee, or any of the following people (called interested persons) may also apply to court if they have concerns:
- your spouse or partner
- your adult child, grandchild or great-grandchild
- your parent
- your adult sibling
- your adult niece or nephew
- anyone else listed in your power of attorney
- your delegate in your personal directive
- a representative of a care home where you live
- after you die, the executor or administrator (personal representative) of your estate.
If the court thinks it is appropriate, the court can:
- require your attorney to give records to the court or to another person
- require your attorney to go to court to explain why they have not met their responsibilities to you or have not followed a court order
- change the terms of the power of attorney or remove the attorney and appoint someone else to manage your affairs. There are special rules for doing these things
- end the power of attorney
- find the attorney responsible (liable) for breaching the attorney's duties to you, and require them to pay money to you or your estate, or give back property
- make any other order it thinks is appropriate.
What your financial institution can do
A financial institution is a bank, credit union, loan or trust company, investment advisor or dealer, insurer, insurance agent or broker.
Your financial institution may:
- refuse to follow your attorney's instructions,
- suspend or limit money withdrawals or transfers from your accounts.
If your financial institution does these things without your involvement they must notify you, your monitor and any other attorneys.
If you've named a Trusted Contact Person for your investments, your investment advisor may also notify your Trusted Contact Person.
Put a fraud alert on your credit report
Credit reporting agencies collect information about a person’s credit and payment history—the person's credit report. The two main credit reporting agencies in Canada are Equifax and TransUnion. It is important to check your credit report if you are or may be a victim of fraud—such as if your attorney has misused your power of attorney. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has information about how to get your free Credit Report.
You can also place a fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert is a 'red flag' notice on your credit report that alerts creditors you are or may be a victim of fraud, including identity theft. Contact Equifax and TransUnion for more information.
Talk with the police
It is a criminal offence to misuse a power of attorney. If your attorney is using your property or money for their own benefit or for someone else's benefit without your consent, you should talk with a lawyer and the police.
CHANGING OR ENDING A POWER OF ATTORNEY
Can I change my power of attorney?
You can change your power of attorney if you are capable of understanding what it means to do that and the effects of changing it. This is called varying your power of attorney.
However, it is best to make a new power of attorney rather than change your existing one. A power of attorney that has changes can cause confusion. It is just as easy to make a new one because the legal requirements for making a valid change are the same as the requirements for making a power of attorney (see Making a Power of Attorney).
If you do change your power of attorney you must tell your attorney or attorneys in writing about the change. You should also do the following:
- Write to anyone who has been relying on your power of attorney. Tell them that you have changed your power of attorney, and what the change is. Keep copies of these letters.
- Ask everyone who has a copy of the previous power of attorney document to return it to you. Banks and some other organizations may need to keep a copy of the document for their files.
- Contact the Land Registration Office to find out if the power of attorney is registered there. If so, your changed or new power of attorney document will need to be registered to replace the old one.
How does a power of attorney end?
A power of attorney can end in any one of the ways listed below.
You revoke it in writing
You can end your power of attorney at any time if you are capable of understanding what it means to do that and the effects of ending it. This is called revoking your power of attorney.
To revoke your power of attorney you must tell your attorney or attorneys in writing. This is called giving notice of revocation. The written notice of revocation must be dated, and you must sign it. It is a good idea to have your notice of revocation witnessed by at least one independent adult who is with you when you sign it, and who signs it too.
If you revoke your power of attorney, you should also do the following:
- Write to all the people and businesses who are dealing with or have dealt with the attorney. Anyone who deals with the attorney will think the power of attorney is valid unless they are told it is not. Tell them that the power of attorney has been cancelled. You can give them a copy of your notice of revocation if you wish. Keep copies of these letters.
- Ask everyone who has a copy of the power of attorney document to return it to you. Banks and some other organizations may need to keep a copy of the document for their files.
- Contact the Land Registration Office to find out if the power of attorney is registered there. You do not need to make changes at the Land Registry if the power of attorney was for a specific time period that has ended or for a task that has been completed.
You make a new power of attorney
A new power of attorney ends (revokes) any prior power of attorney you made unless you say something different in your new power of attorney. An existing power of attorney and a new power of attorney must not conflict and should deal with separate matters.
Sometimes financial institutions may provide a power of attorney form that gives a specific power of attorney over funds held by that institution only. If you sign a bank form power of attorney it may revoke a general power of attorney you already have. Unless you need your attorney to deal only with that bank on your behalf, instead you may want to do a single general power of attorney document that covers everything (ideally done with a lawyer's help), to avoid confusion and disputes.
If you have assets or property outside Canada you may need a separate power of attorney that is made based on the law in that country, made by a lawyer or other legal professional in that country, and that can be used to deal with your finances and property there. If that is your situation you should also see a lawyer in Nova Scotia to make sure a power of attorney you have or make elsewhere does not revoke or conflict with a Nova Scotia power of attorney by mistake.
Written notice by the attorney
Your attorney can tell you in writing that they no longer want to act as attorney. This is called resigning.
If you are capable of understanding what it means for your attorney to resign, your attorney should give their written resignation to:
- you, and
- your monitor, if you named one, and
- any other attorneys named in your power of attorney.
If your attorney resigns and you did not appoint any other attorneys or a back-up attorney in your power of attorney, you should write to the bank and others and tell them that the power of attorney has been cancelled. Keep a copy of these letters. Ask your attorney to return the power of attorney document to you.
If you are not capable of understanding what it means for your attorney to resign, your attorney may give their written resignation to the following, in order of priority:
- your monitor, if you named one, and to any other attorneys named in your power of attorney
- your immediate family members and personal care delegate, only if you don't have a monitor or other attorneys or they aren't available to be notified,
- the first available of your grandparents, grandchildren, aunts or uncles, nieces or nephews, or other relatives, only if no immediate family members are available,
- the Public Trustee, as a last resort.
Loss of capacity
If you cannot make important decisions for yourself—you lose capacity —your power of attorney ends automatically unless it is an enduring power of attorney.
If your attorney loses capacity and you have not named a joint attorney or back-up attorney, your power of attorney ends automatically. This is the case whether it is an ordinary or enduring power of attorney.
When the Public Trustee is acting for someone who loses capacity, the Public Trustee will continue to act for that person.
If you become bankrupt, your power of attorney ends and a licensed insolvency trustee takes over all your financial affairs. A licensed insolvency trustee is a professional who manages the affairs of a bankrupt person.
If your attorney becomes bankrupt they can still act for you if they tell you in writing about the bankruptcy, and while you have capacity you agree in writing that you still want them to be your attorney. Otherwise, your back-up attorney takes over and acts on your behalf, and your power of attorney document remains in effect. If there is no back-up attorney your power of attorney ends.
Time or task
A power of attorney can be for a specific time or task. When the time or task is complete, the power of attorney ends. For example, you might give someone specific power of attorney to sell a house. The attorney’s authority under that document would end when the house is sold.
In another example, you might give a general power of attorney while you are away on vacation. The attorney’s authority under that document ends when you return.
If a specific power of attorney allows the attorney to act over time, the power continues until it is cancelled in one of the ways listed above.
A general power of attorney may continue indefinitely or it may be for a specific time.
If the court thinks it is appropriate, the court can end an attorney's authority or end a power of attorney. The attorney, a monitor, the Public Trustee, your attorney or another interested person would need to apply to court to ask for that to happen. A judge would hear the facts and decide what should happen.
When you die, the power of attorney ends and your attorney must stop acting.
If the attorney dies, the power of attorney ends unless you have named a joint attorney or back-up attorney.
If the Public Trustee is acting for a person who dies without a will naming an executor, they will continue to act until a court appoints someone to administer the estate.
OTHER FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Do powers of attorney have to be registered in Nova Scotia?
A power of attorney only has to be registered when it gives authority to deal with land. Then it must be registered at the Land Registration Office where the land is located.
Otherwise there is no registry for powers of attorney in Nova Scotia.
Is a power of attorney made outside Nova Scotia valid here?
If you have a valid power of attorney or similar document from outside Nova Scotia that gives someone power to deal with your finances and property for you it is a valid power of attorney in Nova Scotia. You do not need to make a Nova Scotia power of attorney.
If you are not sure or if you have questions, ask a Nova Scotia lawyer to look at your document to see if it meets the requirements of the law here.
Is a power of attorney made in Nova Scotia valid outside Nova Scotia?
If your attorney may need to use the power of attorney outside Nova Scotia, check with a lawyer to see if you should write another power of attorney for that place. If you have assets or property outside Canada you may need a separate power of attorney that is made based on the law in that country, made by a lawyer or other legal professional in that country, and that can be used to deal with your finances and property there. Canadian powers of attorney may also need to be authenticated for use outside Canada, depending on the legal requirements of the particular place. Contact Nova Scotia's Department of Justice, Authentication Services or Global Affairs Canada, Authentication Services if a power of attorney needs to be authenticated for use outside Canada.
I made a power of attorney before July 5, 2022. Do I need to replace it?
The law in Nova Scotia on powers of attorney changed on July 5, 2022. If you made a valid power of attorney before that date it is still valid under the new law. You don't need to make a new power of attorney just because the law has changed. You can make a new one if you wish though. It is a good idea to review your power of attorney and your whole estate plan whenever you have big changes in your life, and at least every few years.
Where should I keep my power of attorney?
You should put your power of attorney document in a safe place. A fire-proof location like a fire-proof lock box or safe is the best place. Make sure you tell your attorney where the document is stored so that they can find it if it is needed.
If you want your attorney to start using the power immediately, give it to them. Or give it to them and tell them when they should start acting. Keep a copy for yourself in a safe place. Give a copy to your bank, credit union or trust company, and to any other parties that your attorney will deal with for you. Keep a list of the businesses and people who have copies of your power of attorney in case you have to make any changes or want to revoke it.
If you have a power of attorney that may not be used for a while, perhaps never, do one of these things:
- Put it in a safe place that your attorney can access quickly, if they need to, and tell them where it is.
- Leave it with another person you trust, such as your lawyer, and give clear instructions about when to release it. Remember, though, that this person could die or move away.
- Give it to your attorney to keep in a safe place until it is needed.
If you only have one signed original of the power of attorney document, do not put your power of attorney in a safety deposit box that is in your name only, as your attorney may not be able to get access to it quickly. If you have another original or a notarized copy you can leave one in a safety deposit box. Think about adding the attorney’s name to the safety deposit box as well for ease of access.
It may be many years before your power of attorney is needed, if it ever is needed. As time passes, keep track of where you are keeping your power of attorney. Tell the people in your life who need to know about your power of attorney where to get it when and if it is needed.
Where can I get more information on power of attorney?
- Contact a lawyer who for legal advice. It is a good idea to speak with a lawyer who focuses on estate planning and if possible a lawyer who has a Trust and Estate Practitioner or “TEP” designation. Here are some ways to find a lawyer.
- Contact the Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia for legal information.
Last reviewed: March 2023
Reviewed for legal accuracy by: Erin O'Brien Edmonds, KC, TEP
Some content adapted, with permission, from Public Legal Education Association of Canada members.
Personal Directives (Health care treatment and consent)
It is a good idea to think ahead about who you would want to make health and other personal care decisions for you if you could not make these decisions yourself. Anyone could lose this ability, even for a short time.
A personal directive lets you choose someone to make health and other personal care decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself. You can set out your instructions, wishes, values and beliefs about personal care in the future.
If you think ahead about what kinds of care you might want, you have a better chance of getting that care. You can also make it easier for the people who make those decisions for you.
Advance planning is important for all stages of life. Personal directives help to make sure the decisions you would want are made when you cannot make them yourself, even for a short time. They are also intended for permanent incapacity, such as a brain injury where you may live in the community for many years with assistance. They are also intended for use at the end of your life. A personal directive helps you get the level of comfort and care you want.
The information on this page can help you start to answer some of your questions about personal directives, health and other personal care decision-making.
Making your personal directive is part of being ready for the future. Two other documents are also important: your will and your enduring power of attorney. See the sections on Wills and Powers of Attorney for information about those documents.
Make your Personal Directive now
Nova Scotians can now make a personal directive from home using our free Personal Directive App which produces a finished document that is legally binding.
Our short pdf Personal Directive brochure (951 KB) gives basic information about personal directives, and how to get help using the app or with the hard copy form.
Make your Personal Directive online
- Try our free online Personal Directive App to make your personal directive. The app is web-based, not a downloadable app.
Read the Personal Directives Reflections Guide first to help you get ready to use the app.
Personal Directives Reflections Guide to help you with the app
Make your Personal Directive with hard copy forms
- Download: pdf My Personal Directive - Hard Copy Version (116 KB) and
- Download: pdf Instructions for Completing the Hard Copy version of a Personal Directive (134 KB)
If you have questions or need help using the online app or reviewing the hard copy form
We have trained community volunteers (seniors’ navigators) who are available to provide help by telephone with using the app or reviewing the hard copy form. A seniors’ navigator can be reached:
- via the online matching platform https://navigator.legalinfo.org/
- by e-mail: [email protected]
- phone: 902-454-2198.
You can also watch this 30 minute video that helps guide you through the online app:
Important Words to know
Capacity – The ability to understand information that is relevant to making a personal care or medical decision and the ability to understand the consequences of a decision or lack of a decision.
Consent – To agree or give permission to a personal care or medical treatment decision.
Delegate – Someone who you authorize to make personal care or medical treatment decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself.
Informed consent means that you have received all information necessary to make your decision, including your medical diagnosis, available forms of treatment, and available options to relieve suffering.
Representative – A court may appoint a representative to make personal care or medical decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself and you have not appointed a delegate.
What are personal care decisions?
Personal care decisions are decisions about what a person will eat or drink, where they will live, what they will wear, what activities they will do, and what support they will need to live. It also includes what health care treatment they get, such as tests, procedures, or services to keep them healthy.
What are health care decisions?
Health care is any examination, procedure, service, or treatment that is done for a health-related purpose, including a therapeutic, preventative, palliative, or diagnostic purpose. It includes a course of health care or a care plan.
What is a personal directive?
A personal directive is a legal document that lets you name another person to make personal care decisions for you when you cannot do that for yourself. This person is called a delegate. You may hear them referred to as a delegate, proxy, substitute decision maker, surrogate, or statutory decision maker. In your personal directive you can set out your instructions, wishes, values and beliefs about personal care in the future.
Your personal directive will be used only when you cannot make your own personal care decisions. For example, if you were in a coma. That is called “losing capacity.”
Your personal directive must be in writing, and you must sign it. A person who is not your delegate or their spouse must witness your signature.
A personal directive is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and those who care about you. It can help to make sure that you get the care you want. It can help the people who care about you by letting them know what kinds of care you want. Writing things down helps make sure what you want is clear to everyone.
The people who will most likely make your personal care decisions when you cannot are the people who care most about you—your family and friends. But family members may not know what care you want. A personal directive helps address this problem. As well, if family members disagree about care choices, having your wishes written down can let health care workers care for you as you want to be cared for.
You should make a personal directive while you can still make decisions for yourself. You cannot know how and when illness or an accident will take away your ability to make personal care decisions for yourself.
Who makes health and other personal care decisions for me if I cannot?
Everyone in Nova Scotia has the right to make decisions for themselves about health and other personal care, as long as they have the capacity to do so. Capacity is the ability to understand information that you need to make a personal care or medical decision. It is also the ability to understand what can happen as a result of making a decision or not making a decision.
You can prepare for a time when you may not be able to make health or other personal care decisions for yourself by writing a personal directive while you are well. In your personal directive you may name a delegate to make personal care decisions for you. Your personal directive will be used only when you cannot make your own personal care decisions.
If you have not named a delegate to make health care decisions for you, your health care provider will ask a "statutory decision maker" to make certain personal care decisions for you. A statutory decision maker is someone chosen under the law rather than someone you choose. To find a statutory decision maker, your health care provider will start at the top of the list below and work their way down until they find someone who can fill this role:
- spouse (including legally married, common law, registered domestic partner)
- person who stands in the place of a parent to you,
- brother or sister,
- aunt or uncle,
- niece or nephew, and then
- other relatives.
A statutory decision maker must be an adult who has been in personal contact with you over the past year and who is willing to make decisions on your behalf. They would have the power to make many decisions for you, including accepting an offer to place you in a continuing care home or to receive home care services.
There is another way that someone could be named to make health or other personal care decisions for you when you cannot do it. A relative or friend can apply to court to be named as your representative. The court might allow them to give consent to health care for you when you do not have a valid personal directive. Before naming a representative, a judge must find that you are not able to consent and that the best thing for you is to have a representative. For more information, see the information about Adult Capacity and Decision-making.
In very unusual cases there is no delegate, representative, or other person who can make a decision for you. In these cases the Nova Scotia Public Trustee may be asked to do so, and might agree to take on this task. The Public Trustee is a government office that manages the affairs of some people who cannot do it for themselves. Contact the Nova Scotia Public Trustee for more information, or see the Public Trustee's website at www.novascotia.ca/just/pto.
Naming someone to make personal care decisions for you
A personal directive lets you name someone you trust, your delegate, to make health and other personal care decisions for you.
You may name any person to be your delegate who is:
- 19 years of age or older (unless they are your spouse) and
- able to make important decisions.
Your delegate does not have to be related to you.
The law allows you to name more than one person to act as delegates for you. But in most cases it is best to name only one delegate. If you name more than one delegate, you must clearly give each delegate authority for different matters. This makes sure that only one person can make decisions in any area and avoids conflicts between decision-makers. For example, you can name your spouse to make all health care decisions for you and name your sister to make all decisions about continuing care home placement. You cannot name your spouse and sister to both make all health and other personal care decisions for you.
You can also name a person or people who you do not want to be asked to make health and other personal care decisions for you.
Talk with your delegate about your wishes for your health and other personal care. Here are a few questions to think about in choosing a delegate:
- Do I trust this person to make health and other personal care decisions for me?
- Will this person respect my values and beliefs and act on my instructions and wishes, not on their own?
- Does this person know me well enough to make decisions for me?
- Can this person communicate clearly?
- Can this person make difficult decisions in stressful situations?
- Will this person speak for me if I cannot make health and other personal care decisions for myself?
You may also name another delegate who can make decisions about your personal care if your delegate cannot act for any reason, even for a short time. This person is called an alternate delegate. For example, your delegate could be travelling in another country or unavailable for some other reason. In that case, your alternate delegate could make decisions for you. Your delegate could make decisions for you once they returned to the country or they could be reached. You may also name more alternate delegates to make decisions in case your first alternate cannot. An alternate delegate must be at least 19 years old (unless they are your spouse) and able to make important decisions.
The people giving you health care would need to respect any instructions in your personal directive if they could not reach your delegate or alternate delegate.
You can choose not to name a delegate in your personal directive. You can just leave a statement of your instructions, wishes, beliefs, and values about your personal care, directions on who to consult about your care or who to notify about your circumstances.
But what if you do not name a delegate and do not leave instructions or wishes that are clear and related to a decision that must be made? Your care providers will turn to a statutory decision maker to make certain personal care decisions for you. See the list of who can be a statutory decision maker above under the question: "Who makes health and other personal care decisions for me if I cannot?"
Your personal directive could include instructions for your care, directions on who to consult about your care or who to notify about your circumstances, and how a delegate may be compensated for taking on this role.
Your delegate must follow any instructions or wishes you may have written in your personal directive. However, they can also consider any conversations with you since you wrote your personal directive. If the delegate believes that certain medical advances or technologies would have changed your instructions if you had known about them, they should think about this when making decisions about your care.
If you do not leave any instructions or wishes, your delegate must make decisions according to the values and beliefs written in your personal directive. If you do not leave any instructions, wishes, values, or beliefs in your personal directive, your delegate must make decisions according to what they believe would be your instructions, wishes, values, or beliefs. If they cannot do that, they must make decisions according to what they believe to be your best interests.
Do you want to give your delegate power to choose a replacement delegate?
In your personal directive you may allow your delegates to give their responsibilities for your personal care decisions to someone else. This is called sub-delegating their authority to another person. That person will have all the power your delegates give them. Your delegates may sub-delegate only if you say in your personal directive that they may do so.
How specific should my health care instructions be?
Your directive should be clear and detailed. Include the types of treatments you would agree to and those you would not agree to. Try to avoid broad statements that might reduce the options available for your treatment. For example, if you say you do not want to be given any medication, you might be ruling out a simple treatment that could ease your pain or help you overcome minor ailments during your illness.
Think about what you want your health care providers, delegate or statutory decision-maker to do, and in what situations. Think about what comfort measures or comfort care you would want—for example, drugs for managing pain, oxygen for shortness of breath.
Write down your values and beliefs in your personal directive as a way to assist in interpreting instructions and to help your delegate.
There are some resources at the bottom of this page under "Where can I find more information" that will help you to think about and express your instructions, wishes, values and beliefs in your personal directive.
Are there people you want your delegate to talk with when making personal care decisions?
You can say in your personal directive that your delegate must talk with other people when making personal care decisions for you. You can do this by naming the people your delegate should talk with. Instructing your delegate to talk with other people when making care decisions for you can help in two ways.
First, people who knew you when you could make decisions may know about your instructions, values, beliefs, and wishes.
Second, family members who have not been named as delegates may take comfort in being asked about personal care decisions.
Paying delegates to make decisions
Nova Scotia law says that delegates cannot be paid to make decisions for you unless you say in your personal directive that you want to pay them. You must also say in what cases you want to pay your delegates; this is called the “terms.”
Repaying your delegates' expenses
If you want your delegate to be repaid for any out-of-pocket expenses (costs they pay for, like parking) they must pay while acting as your delegate, you should say that in your personal directive. Even if you do not say so in your personal directive, your delegates can be repaid for reasonable costs while acting as your delegates. However, the law is not completely clear about this. To be sure that your delegates can be repaid for their reasonable out-of-pocket costs, you should say so in your personal directive.
Involving people in your capacity assessment
Your personal directive takes effect only when you can no longer make personal care decisions for yourself. This is called “losing capacity.”
You have capacity when you can:
- understand information you need to make a personal care decision, and
- appreciate what could happen if you make or do not make a decision.
To decide if you have capacity, a health care professional will assess (or test) your ability to make decisions. This might include talking with people who know you well.
In your personal directive you may wish to name people for the health care provider to talk to when they assess your capacity. The people you name may be able to give information that helps the person who is assessing your capacity. It also helps the people who care about you to feel included in your care.
You may also wish to give instructions about who must be told when you lose capacity to make personal care decisions. You can also say who must not be told.
Do I need a lawyer to prepare a personal directive?
You don’t have to talk to a lawyer when you write your personal directive, but it is a good idea. Your lawyer can make sure that your directive meets all the legal requirements and says clearly what you want it to say. Lawyers charge a fee based on the amount you want them to do, and how complex the work is. You should discuss fees with the lawyer before you decide to hire them.
If possible, speak with your health care providers to be sure you have full information about your own health when writing your directive. This will help you understand what lies ahead so you can write about the medical care you want or do not want. Your health care provider can explain the different ways to treat medical conditions and can give the best instructions for your needs. Without medical advice, your instructions might not give the results you want.
What should I do if a hospital or care facility asks me to sign a standard personal directive form?
Some health care and residential care facilities use standard personal directives when patients or residents are admitted. These directives may include instructions that you would not want. For example, they might include a do-not-resuscitate order.
You do not have to sign this standard form. Also, a hospital or health care facility in Nova Scotia cannot refuse to treat you or admit you just because you refuse to sign their directive. The Personal Directives Act says it is against the law for these facilities to demand a personal directive.
If you get a standard form, review it with your health care provider (your doctor or nurse) before you decide whether to sign it. You might also show it to a lawyer. Do not sign a standard directive form if it would not give you the health care results you want. Instead, talk with your family about your health care wishes. You may want to write your own personal directive if you don’t already have one.
Many facilities will ask you if you have a personal directive. If you have one, give the facility a copy for its files.
Where should I keep my personal directive?
- Keep your signed and witnessed original personal directive in a safe place. Tell your delegate or close family members where it is. Make sure they can reach it easily. You may want to keep it in a marked folder in a place such as top of the fridge, kitchen cupboard, or a desk so it can be found quickly in an emergency. It is a good idea to keep it in a firesafe box.
- Give a copy to your delegate(s) if you named any.
- Give copies to other trusted, close family members and friends.
- Give a copy to your doctor if you have one, and to other people who will be caring for you.
- If you are going into a hospital or a continuing care home, take a copy with you.
- If you are traveling, take a copy with you. Many provinces and territories and US states will honour your wishes. Some will follow the rules in place in their province or territory or state.
Do not put your directive in a safe deposit box that is in your name only. If you do, your delegate may not be able to get to it when it is needed. Although people who have been given copies of your directive may not need the original, your delegate should be able to get the original directive if needed.
For example, you could be in hospital and staff might not be able to find the copy you provided. A health care provider who does not know you might need to see the original. Keep a list of people who have copies of your personal directive with the original. Some people like to put their delegate’s contact information in the document.
How often should I review my personal directive?
You should look at your personal directive from time to time. Update your personal directive when you make important life changes, like a common law relationship, marriage, remarriage, separation or divorce.
In fact, it’s a good idea to look at it again each time you experience one of the "5 Ds":
- a new decade of life
- the death of a loved one
- a divorce or separation
- a new diagnosis or
- a significant decline in health.
Ask yourself if it still reflects your instructions, wishes, beliefs, and values. Think about your delegate, if you have named one: are they still the person you want to make decisions for you? Are they still willing and able to make decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself? Update it if your delegate or alternate dies or becomes unable to make important decisions.
Medical treatments change regularly as research improves them. You might want to mention new treatment methods and technology. If you have a specific illness or condition, review your directive more frequently to make sure you keep up to date on treatments.
Organizations that deal with diseases (like cancer, AIDS, or Alzheimer’s disease) have good information about new treatments and care. They can also give you support and help you and your family cope with the illness.
You can ask your doctor, medical specialist or health care provider for more information, or you can go online. If you get information online, check to be sure that it comes from a reliable source.
You can make a new personal directive or change your personal directive any time you want, as long as you have capacity. Make any changes in writing. Add the date you changed your directive, and have witnesses sign the document to show they know that you made the changes. Your witnesses should not be your delegate or delegate's spouse.
If you make a new personal directive or simply make changes, destroy all the old copies. Give copies of your new or updated personal directive to the people who already had a copy—your delegates, family members and health care providers. Ask them to destroy the old copies.
How can I cancel a personal directive?
You can revoke, or cancel, your personal directive at any time, as long as you have capacity. You can declare your intention to cancel your personal directive in writing, and have it signed and witnessed. You can also destroy all copies of the old directive and write a new directive if you want to.
Tell your doctor, hospital, or health care facility that you revoked (cancelled) your personal directive. Get back any copies you gave them. They need to know that you have changed your mind, whether or not you make a new directive. You should also tell your delegate and your family members.
You do not have to write a new directive to cancel the old one. If you decide to make a new directive, then include in it a paragraph that ends (revokes) the old directive. Give a copy of your new directive to your delegates, doctor, and family members.
Your personal directive will be used to guide personal care decisions only when you cannot make those decisions yourself. That is called “losing capacity.”
Your personal directive can no longer be used when:
- you have capacity again
- you die
- you cancel the personal directive
- a court decides it is no longer in effect.
Will my personal directive be valid outside Nova Scotia?
There are legal requirements for directives to be valid in Nova Scotia. The law about directives is not the same outside the province. If you are outside Nova Scotia and you cannot consent, your directive might not be followed. It would have to meet the requirements in the province or country you are visiting.
Before travelling, review your directive and get advice from your lawyer. That will help to make sure that your directive will be followed if you cannot consent to treatment while travelling. If you plan to live outside Nova Scotia for some time, you may want to write another directive that will be valid where you are living.
Where can I find more information?
Make your Personal Directive online: (Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia) If you wish you can make your personal directive for free online at legalinfo.org/forms/personal-directive. Or you can download instructions for writing a personal directive, and a personal directive form, at www.legalinfo.org/wills-and-estates-law/health-care. Read the Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia's Personal Directives Reflection Guide before you start.
Have questions about writing your Personal Directive?
Email: [email protected]
Call: (902) 454-2198 and leave a message.
Nova Scotia Department of Justice, Personal Directives, including sample forms and answers to common questions: www.novascotia.ca/just/pda/
Government of Canada website about medical assistance in dying: www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/medical-assistance-dying.html
Advance Care Planning Canada: Free resources and tools on advance care planning to help you create your individualized plan — advancecareplanning.ca/
End-of-life care in Nova Scotia: call 8-1-1 to speak to a registered nurse or go to www.811.novascotia.ca
Medical assistance in dying in Nova Scotia: you can speak with your primary care provider or a specialist, or contact the Nova Scotia Health MAID Access and Resource Team at 902-491-5892 (Halifax area) or toll free at 1-833-903-6243, or visit www.nshealth.ca/about-us/medical-assistance-dying
Dying with Dignity Canada: www.dyingwithdignity.ca
Caregiving Benefits and Leave: Contact Service Canada at 1-800-206-7218 for information about Employment Insurance Caregiver benefits to help you take time away from work to provide care or support to a critically ill or injured person or someone needing end-of-life care.
Nova Scotia Caregiving Benefits and Leave: contact Nova Scotia Labour Standards at 1-888-315-0110 for information about unpaid leaves from work under Nova Scotia's Labour Standards Code, including Critically Ill Adult and Child Care Leaves, Compassionate Care Leave.
Nova Scotia Hospice Palliative Care Association: nshpca.ca
Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association: chpca.ca/
Health Law Institute, Dalhousie University: End of Life Law and Policy in Canada - http://eol.law.dal.ca/
Legislation: Personal Directives Act, Nova Scotia (https://nslegislature.ca/sites/default/files/legc/statutes/persdir.htm)
Regulations: Personal Directives Regulations, NS Reg 31/2010 (https://novascotia.ca/just/regulations/regs/pdpersdir.htm)
A lawyer in private practice who focuses on estate planning work, including wills, powers of attorney, and personal directives. Go here for information about ways to find a lawyer.
Last reviewed: March 2022
Investor Rights and Protection
The Investor Rights and Protection Guide provides education and awareness to help you manage the risks and pitfalls of investing.
Why should you be interested in investing? When you work, you exchange your time for money and you earn what is called “active income.” We all get paid different amounts for our work, but we all have a limited amount of time to earn money by working. You can work harder and longer to make more money but, at some point, you run out of time. Investing is how you earn money without trading in more of your time by working. Instead of working for all of your money, you let some of your money work for you. It still takes time, but it happens while you are busy living life. You are earning “passive income” by investing.
Videos about Estate Planning
Personal Directive, Power of Attorney and Will: Introduction
Why you need a Personal Directive: Introduction
Plan Ahead: Making a Personal Directive and using the free Personal Directive App (30 minutes)
Why you need a Power of Attorney
Why you need a Will