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Creating a Digital Legacy

Most of what we do these days is online. From social media to e-mail to banking, it is important not to overlook our digital assets when creating a will.

What is a digital legacy?

To put it simply, a digital legacy is a collection of the electronic data someone leaves behind when they die. In the digital age, we spend more time online and store more information digitally rather than physically. Because of this, it is becoming more common to leave behind a digital legacy for loved ones to remember you by. Some people choose to curate their digital legacy and entrust it to an executor. Others give full control over all assets to an executor. Many people do both.

What should I include in my digital legacy?

It can be easy to forget what you might need to include when working on such a sensitive document. So, we have compiled a list of some of the key components you should consider.

  1. Usernames and Passwords

Usernames and passwords are important for an executor to know so they can access your devices, social media, banking accounts, cloud storage, and other important online services. Social media accounts can be fully shut down or turned into memorial pages. Memorial pages let friends and families look at photos and memories and even leave messages. Create a list of all your accounts and update them whenever there is a change.

2. Photos and Videos

Photos and videos are some of the most cherished belongings we use to remember our loved ones. Giving access to these files lets your memory get passed down through generations. If you plan to curate a collection of photos and videos, remember to keep adding any new ones you feel are worth sharing. Make sure you back up your files on an external hard drive as to not lose the data.

3. Written Documents

If you are a writer, your stories are a way to keep your memory alive. If you are a baker, your recipes can be enjoyed for years to come. If you love giving advice, your wisdom can be passed down through generations. Including written documents in your digital legacy can give loved ones a great way to remember you and pass on your knowledge.

4. E-mails and Text Messages

Many people include written letters in their will. With digital correspondence being much more common and frequent, you can share so many wonderful and sentimental memories. These can be as detailed as a profound conversation between family members or as simple as a joke between friends.

5. Official documents

Including official documents such as birth certificates, medical information, and professional documents is important, as physical copies can be easily misplaced or destroyed. Entrust your executor with these documents so they can be kept safe, and include those you think are meaningful to others in your curated digital legacy.

When creating your digital legacy, you should make sure the executor you appoint is tech-savvy. Create an open and honest dialogue with your family around how you wish your digital assets to be handled, and continue to revise your files to keep the information up-to-date.

If you would like to book a consultation to create your digital legacy, please contact our office at 902-539-2425.

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Interpreting Your Motor Vehicle Insurance Policy

Nova Scotia uses standard form motor vehicle insurance policies. Each policy generally has four sections: A, B, C, and D.

SECTION A

Section A is third party liability insurance. This covers you or anyone driving your vehicle with your permission for any liability for loss or damages that occur as a result. In Nova Scotia, an insured driver is required by s.125 (1) of the Insurance Act to carry a minimum of $500,000.00 in third party liability insurance. Many people carry between $1,000.000.00 – $2,000,000.00 in coverage, and the cost to increase these limits is usually quite reasonable. In the event you are found liable for a claim which exceeds your Section A policy limit, you will be  personally liable to pay any remaining balance after your insurer’s limit has been exhausted.

SECTION B

Section B is your accident benefits coverage. Benefits are paid regardless of who is at fault for the accident. To be eligible for Section B benefits, an injured person must provide the insurance company with notice of the accident within 30 days and file a proof of claim within 90 days.  Section B insurance covers things such as medical treatments, loss of employment income, and other expenses in certain circumstances. For example:

  • Section B will cover medical expenses up to $50,000.00 or for 4 years, whichever comes first.  
  • Section B will cover 80% of your net income loss up to a maximum of $250.00 per week if you were employed for 6 months out of the previous 12 months before the accident or are seasonally employed, and you are unable to perform the essential duties of your job for more than 7 days as a result, and your loss of income occurs within 30 days of the accident. After two years, you must be unable to do any job to continue receiving Section B loss of income benefits.
  • Section B will cover Housekeeping Expenses up to a maximum of $100.00 per week for 17 weeks if you are a principal unpaid housekeeper and are unable to perform the duties of a housekeeper.
  • Section B also provides limited death benefits as a result of the death of the head of the household, the spouse of the head of the household, or a dependant, as well as some funeral expenses.  

SECTION C

Section C is coverage for damage to your own vehicle. Section C insurance is not mandatory. The majority of policies require a deductible for any damages paid out under this section. Section C covers repairs to your vehicle or its actual cash value if the vehicle is rendered a total constructive loss. It may also provide coverage for fire or theft of the insured vehicle.

SECTION D

Section D is uninsured or unidentified driver coverage. If you suffer damages as a result of an unidentified or uninsured driver, and you have coverage on your own vehicle or are the spouse or dependant of someone in your household who has insurance, you can seek recovery through Section D. This is only available if you cannot bring a third-party claim. While the minimum amount of coverage required in Nova Scotia is $500,000.00, if you are injured in another jurisdiction, your insurer is not obligated to pay more than the minimum amount of coverage required in that jurisdiction. As an insured driver, you are not considered “at fault” for making a Section D claim.

SEF 44 COVERAGE

In Nova Scotia, an insured driver also has the option of purchasing what is known as Standard Endorsement Form 44 [“SEF 44”] coverage, also known as a Family Protection Endorsement. If you or any member of your family are injured in a motor vehicle accident due to the fault of another driver and your damages are more than the other driver’s Section A coverage, your SEF 44 coverage will cover the difference up to your policy limit. Also, if you are injured by an unidentified or uninsured driver and your damages are more than the minimum Section D limits, your SEF 44 coverage will cover the difference. Usually, SEF 44 coverage is automatically added to your motor vehicle insurance policy if you carry more than the minimum required coverage of $500,000.00, but you should check with your broker to be sure.


Sampson McPhee has prepared this publication to provide legal information of a general nature. It is not intended to provide legal advice. If you have any questions or concerns one of our lawyers will be happy to assist you. You can reach us by calling 902 539 2425.

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COVID-19 Regulatory Initiatives

All Nova Scotia businesses are required to follow the Health Protection Act Order issued by the Medical Officer of Health. The Health Protection Act Order can be viewed here. The following sectors are subject to additional business and service restrictions, which can be viewed here. Those sectors include: 

  • Childcare and education;
  • Disability support programs;
  • Healthcare and continuing care;
  • Personal and wellness services; 
  • Recreation services;
  • Religious services;
  • Restaurants, bars and casinos; and 
  • Veterinarians.

Businesses that were previously ordered to close under the Health Protection Act Order are required to follow approved sector-specific plans for re-opening. The approved sector specific plans can be found here.

Regardless of whether your business was previously ordered to close under the Health Protection Order, it is important to follow government guidelines for keeping your workplace safe. Those guidelines can be found here

Bringing Employees Back to Work

  • Whether employees were temporarily laid off or working from home, we recommend that employers provide as much notice and guidance as possible in advance of their planned return to work.
  • As of March 22, 2020, Nova Scotia declared a state of emergency under the Emergency Management Act. If an employee is unable to perform their work duties because of an emergency declared under the Emergency Management Act, Nova Scotia’s Labour Standards Code provides that the employee is entitled to an unpaid leave of absence for as long as the emergency continues or prevents the employee from performing their duties. Reasons employees may be unable to perform their work duties due to Covid-19 include unavailability of childcare, self-isolation requirements or the need to care for a relative who has Covid-19. 
  • Employers should work with employees as necessary to accommodate a safe return to the workplace for all. Employers should be cognizant of the protected grounds under Nova Scotia’s Human Rights Act. Where an employee is unable to return to work or feels unsafe returning to work due to circumstances falling under one of these grounds, a duty to accommodate to the point of undue hardship may arise on the employer’s part. Protected grounds which may be of particular relevance during the Covid-19 include:
    • age;
    • family status;
    • physical or mental disability; and
    • irrational fear of contracting an illness or disease.

Information Relevant to Local Industries

  • Anyone entering Nova Scotia must self-isolate for 14 days when they arrive. Where a person is entering the province to board a fishing vessel, where possible, they may self-isolate on the fishing vessel for 14 consecutive days. If a person chooses to self-isolate on a fishing vessel, that person can’t leave the boat for any reason until the end of those 14 days, including to get supplies. The boat can dock and have supplies delivered.
  • Persons working in the transportation sector, whose work involves transporting goods or people across Nova Scotia’s border, including, truck drivers, and crew, maintenance and operational workers on planes, trains or marine vessels, and who are in good health are exempt from the 14 day self-isolation requirement. 
  • Nova Scotia is allowing temporary foreign workers to enter the province. They are required to self-isolate for 14 days. Where possible, temporary foreign workers should self-isolate onsite at their place of work. 

For more information regarding regulations and policies that may affect you and your business, please do not hesitate to reach out to us directly at 902-539-2425 or mail@sampsonmcphee.com

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Sampson McPhee Announces Two New Partners

Sydney, NS – Sampson McPhee Lawyers are pleased to announce the naming of Liam Gillis and Tyler MacLennan to their partnership. On January 1, 2020, Gillis and MacLennan will join the three present partners, Robert Sampson Q.C., Harvey McPhee Q.C. and Elsbeth Cassidy.

“Liam and Tyler have proven to be exceptional lawyers and are well respected by their clients and our community at large,” says Robert Sampson, Founding Partner, Sampson McPhee.

“Liam and Tyler continue to impress with their ability to handle complicated cases, as well as their passion for helping the communities they serve, here in Cape Breton. On behalf of our entire team, we want to congratulate our two new partners on their achievements and welcome
them to our partnership team!”

Both Gillis and MacLennan joined Sampson McPhee in 2015, after receiving their Juris Doctor from the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University. Gillis’s practice focuses primarily on civil litigation and personal injury, as well as labour, employment, and property law. MacLennan’s practice focuses on corporate and commercial law, including corporate restructuring, shareholder disputes, contracts and tax planning.

“It’s an honour to be named a partner at Sampson McPhee. This announcement speaks to the firm’s commitment to attracting and retaining fresh talent, as well as the firm’s continued growth. I am grateful for the opportunity to build my career at home in Cape Breton,” says Gillis.
MacLennan adds: “Both Liam and I look forward to continuing to provide the utmost professionalism and quality service to our clients and to expand on our contributions to the practice of law as a whole.”

For over 35 years, Sampson McPhee has provided innovative and practical solutions, timely and efficient service and a breadth and depth of knowledge and experience in all areas of the law to a diverse client base. As Cape Breton Island’s largest law firm, they provide services of the highest calibre in every area of law, a goal to which the members of the firm are committed to at every level.


Media Contact:
Robert Sampson Q.C.
Founding Partner, Sampson McPhee Law Firm
902-565-9781

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Including Your Whole Family in Your Will

HOW TO WRITE A WILL THAT INCLUDES YOUR WHOLE FAMILY

Cape Breton families are growing increasingly complex. As of the 2016 Census, of the 12,960 families with at least one child under the age of 24 in Cape Breton, only 6,295 (48.6%) were intact families. 1,125 Cape Breton families with at least one child under the age of 24 were stepfamilies. 

Complex families can make the distribution of your estate…well…complex. However, if you have a stepfamily and want to ensure your whole family receives something from your estate, the most important step you can take is having a will prepared. In Nova Scotia, if you die intestate (without a will), the Intestate Succession Act governs the distribution of your estate. The Intestate Succession Act does not provide for step relations. Therefore, if you want your step relatives to receive anything from your estate, you will need to prepare a will. 

When it comes to preparing your will, here are some additional considerations for complex families:

Choosing an Executor: If you are concerned about tension and conflict between your family members following your death, you should carefully consider who you choose to be the executor of your will. In some situations it may be wise to choose a neutral third party as opposed to a family member. 

Mutual Wills: Some spouses with blended families choose to execute mutual wills. Spouses frequently create “mirror” wills, leaving everything to their spouse, and in the event their spouse predeceases them, to their children. However, you may want assurance that in the event you predecease your spouse, your children will still benefit from your estate. A mutual will includes a clear clause whereby the spouses agree that following the death of one spouse, the surviving spouse is prohibited from revoking or changing their will. 

Life Interests: Providing a spouse with a life interest is another option that may be attractive if you are trying to balance the interests of your spouse and your children in a blended family. A life interest enables the testator to leave an asset, for example a home or shareholdings, to their spouse, for the remainder of the spouse’s life, and then, on the spouse’s death, to their children. In some cases, a life interest to your spouse may be a better fit than leaving an asset for your spouse and children to share, which can lead to conflicts and even the forced sale of the asset. 

Sampson McPhee has prepared this publication to provide legal information of a general nature. It is not intended to provide legal advice. If you have any questions or concerns one of our lawyers will be happy to assist you. You can reach us by calling 902 539 2425.

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