March 5th, 2014
Estate Planning is a process that involves work by both the lawyer and the client. I recently met with Carl and Sue at my law office in Stittsville (Ottawa). During our meeting, they said how surprised they were at the amount of paperwork they were asked to bring to the first meeting.
I explained to Carl and Sue that there are very important reasons for thoroughly reviewing what they own and how they own it. I commented that clients often feel the way Carl and Sue do but after hearing just one example, they’re usually convinced that it is important to do. Here is one example.
If clients own real property, it can be owned as ‘joint tenants with rights of survivorship’ (JTWROS) or as ‘tenants in common’ (TIC). If owned as JTWROS, when one owner dies, title to the property passes to the surviving joint owner without going through the estate of the deceased owner. In other words, probate fees are not payable on that real property.
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February 27th, 2014
Early in the new year, I met with Grace* to review her estate planning. She signed a new Will and Power of Attorney for Property (POA) naming her daughter, Julie,* as her executor and her attorney in the new documents.
Grace called me last week to let me know she had gone to her bank to give them the new POA document. She is getting older and, although her mind is still sharp, she likes the idea of Julie being able to manage her money for her. However the bank would not accept the POA because Grace had only an unsigned copy and hadn’t brought the original with her. The bank’s staff, trying to be “helpful,” offered to have Grace sign the bank’s POA form. However, they did not explain to her the problems that doing so could create.
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February 20th, 2014
Just as no two people are alike, no two Wills should be exactly alike. Everyone’s situation is unique as are everyone’s estate planning goals. A one-size-fits-all or ‘cookie cutter’ approach is not appropriate for estate planning.
Avoid the ‘cookie cutter’ approach to estate planning!
Here are some of the common pitfalls that we have seen with type of approach. Read the rest of this entry »
February 13th, 2014
What if the executor I’ve named in my Will doesn’t want to act when the time comes?
The answer depends on what is in the deceased’s will. If an alternate Estate Trustee (ET) is named who is willing and able to take on the job, the first named ET needs to sign a Renunciation and then the second-named ET can proceed.
If the first named ET refuses to sign the Renunciation, an application can be made to Court requesting that the first named ET either accept or refuse the appointment.
If the deceased’s will does not name an alternate and the first (and only) named ET renounces, an application can be made asking the Court to appoint someone such as a beneficiary named in the will or a creditor of the estate. Various conditions must be met.
If you would like to discuss the appointment of executors in your Will, make an appointment to meet with one of our lawyers at our Ottawa office. Being an executor comes with a lot of responsibility and care must be taken to ensure you pick the right person for the job.
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February 6th, 2014
Careful estate planning a must for second marriages.
If you are in (or about to enter into) a second marriage, you will need to give some careful thought and attention to your estate planning. The most challenging question you’ll likely face is: How do I make sure that my children from my first marriage inherit from me while making sure my second spouse is well taken care of? If you do not have children but your spouse does, are you OK with all of your estate going to your spouse’s children or should your family, friends or favourite charities get what you’ve worked hard to accumulate? There is rarely an easy answer. Read the rest of this entry »
January 30th, 2014
My affairs are simple. Do I really need to do any estate planning?
When people find out that I specialize in estate planning, they often ask whether everyone needs a Will and Powers of Attorney. My answer is always a resounding ‘yes’.
Wikipedia describes ‘estate planning’ as the “process of anticipating and arranging for the disposal of an estate during your life. [It] typically attempts to eliminate uncertainties over the administration of a probate and maximize the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses.” Read the rest of this entry »
January 16th, 2014
My mother recently passed away and I am her executor. How do I pay her outstanding bills?
Not long ago, I met with Ralph at my law office in Stittsville near Ottawa. Ralph had recently lost his mother. In her Will she had named Ralph as the executor and he wanted to discuss his duties and responsibilities. Among the many things we talked about was how to access his mother’s cash and pay her bills. Read the rest of this entry »
January 9th, 2014
My child has an RDSP. How should I deal with this in my Will?
If you want to leave something for a loved one with a disability, extra careful planning is really important. Just before the holidays I met with a couple at my Otttawa/Stittsville law office. I’ve changed the names to ensure confidentiality. John and Leigh’s six year old son, Mark, is diagnosed with high functioning autism. He is a happy-go-lucky kid who is in a grade 1 regular class. Although Mark has lots of challenges when it comes to social skills and independence, having a part-time educational assistant is a big help.
Because of Mark’s disability, John and Leigh were successful in getting the disability tax credit (DTC) for Mark. However, Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) only approved Mark’s DTC eligibility up to 2019 when he will have to re-apply and meet CRA requirements.
John and Leigh mentioned they were going to open a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) for Mark. They wondered if their Wills needed to mention the RDSP. Read the rest of this entry »
December 27th, 2013
Is the house mine?
Before the holidays, I met with a woman who had lost her husband to cancer in the fall. I’ll call her Joan. She needed some information regarding his estate and her duties as executor. Most of their assets were held jointly or Joan had been named as beneficiary. So settling his estate was fairly simple. However, there were still a few things to care of. One was the title to their home. Read the rest of this entry »
December 20th, 2013
From all of us at Neff Law Office Professional Corporation to you and yours, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season. We hope 2014 brings you much happiness and prosperity.