Lawyers are entrusted with the responsibility of assisting clients to plan for death and incapacity with skill, wisdom, and a commitment to excellence. These standards, like those established for other practice areas, serve as guiding principles to assist lawyers in the exercise of their professional judgment.

Navigating the legal landscape in Nova Scotia presents lawyers with two undeniable certainties: death and taxes. However, today a third certainty emerges – the absence of a ‘simple will.’ Lawyers need to be knowledgeable about the complexities in planning for a client’s death, including the tax implications embedded within clients’ estate plans and also any arrangements clients have entered into in the often ill-considered quest for probate avoidance. 

Crafting wills in Nova Scotia is no longer a mere documentation process; it is a strategic consideration of tax implications and potential pitfalls associated with will substitutes and probate alternatives. Lawyers must be well-versed in guiding their clients through this nuanced journey, offering informed counsel and ensuring that the estate plan for each client is both comprehensive and resilient.

Moreover, true preparedness encompasses the foresight to navigate potential challenges related to mental incapacity. Lawyers are now integral architects of holistic estate plans and should guide clients through planning for possible incapacity. 

Constituted in 2019, the formal mandate of the Professional Standards (Wills, Powers of Attorney and Personal Directives) Committee as approved by Council of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society is as follows:

The Professional Standards (Wills, Powers of Attorney and Personal Directives) Committee supports Council in the governance of the Society by developing professional standards for the practice of wills, powers of attorney and personal directives (collectively referred to as “Wills”). Included, though in the Committee’s discretion, is the development of standards in the related practice areas of estates and trusts.

These Standards and their featured resources are intended to be an articulation of the existing statutory and regulatory obligations for lawyers and to provide some guidance with respect to “how” a Standard might be met, taking into account the variances in practice around the province. Each proposed new Standard is first introduced to Council by the Professional Standards (Wills, Powers of Attorney and Personal Directives) Committee and then communicated to the membership for review and consultation. After that process is complete, it is brought back to Council for approval and finally made fully available to lawyers through this website.