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Donna Neff's Law Blog

The Essential 101 Guide to Probate

August 14th, 2014
probate estate trustee

What does ‘getting’ probate actually mean?

We all know about probate fees. Those pesky fees that must be paid to the government when we die.

But what does it mean when an executor has to ‘get’ probate. What does this mean exactly? For many, the process of probate is mysterious. This can cause anxiety and frustration for beneficiaries who are anxiously awaiting information and want to know when they will get their inheritance. Read the rest of this entry »


Who Gets the Cottage?

August 7th, 2014

cottage lake canoe smlLast week I met with Ray and Gail (not their real names) to discuss their estate planning. A recent family discussion with their two daughters over what to do with the family cottage had prompted them to come and see me. Ray and Gail still enjoyed their summers at the cottage and weren’t sure if they were ready to give up ownership. Both daughters were interested in keeping the cottage in the family but one travelled a lot with her job so wasn’t sure if ownership made sense for her. The family wasn’t sure what to do.

Read the rest of this entry »


Estate Planning for Second Marriages: No Easy Answers

July 24th, 2014
estate planning second marriage

Careful estate planning a must for second marriages.

Many of the clients that I meet at my law office in Stittsville (Ottawa) are in second marriages. This nearly always adds an extra degree of complexity to their estate planning, especially if one or both have children from prior relationships.

The question they ask me is:  “How do I make sure that my children get something from me but ensure my spouse isn’t left destitute?” Read the rest of this entry »


My loved one died without a Will…What will happen to their estate?

July 10th, 2014
Inheritance from an estate

My loved one died without a Will and I’m acting as executor….how do I know who gets what?

As soon as people find out that I work in the area of wills and estates, they invariably want to know what happens to the assets in a person’s estate if the person dies without a Will. Dying without a Will is known as dying ‘intestate’. At our law office in Stittsville (Ottawa), we often meet with clients who have applied or who intend to apply to be named as Estate Trustee Without a Will so that they can take care of the estate of a person that died without a Will. One of the many things we can help with is determining how and when to distribute the deceased’s estate … basically who gets what and when. Read the rest of this entry »


I’m moving out of Ontario…Do I need a new Will?

June 26th, 2014

Have Your Current Will and Powers of Attorney Reviewed

Should I do a new Will after I move?

Should I do a new Will after I move?

I recently received an email from a client with a question that I am often asked. I had recently met with Steve (not his real name) at my law office in Stittsville near Ottawa regarding his role as executor of his mother’s estate.  Steve will be moving away from Ottawa at the end of the summer and he wondered if he should sign a new Will and Powers of Attorney after he gets settled in. Read the rest of this entry »


Unavailable on the Day of Closing?…Sign a Limited Power of Attorney of Property

June 19th, 2014
power of attorney for property transfer day of closing

I have to go out of town on the day my real estate deal closes…What should I do?

It’s almost summer and the real estate market is definitely in full swing. Some properties that sold earlier this Spring have closing dates very soon including one of our clients, Raymond (not his real name).

I met with Raymond last March about his dad’s estate. He is the executor (also called an estate trustee) in his dad’s Will.

Raymond had some questions about executor compensation and passing his accounts. He also had just sold his dad’s house and an issue had come up. When negotiating the purchase date, Raymond forgot that he would be out east for his daughter’s wedding on the day of closing. Read the rest of this entry »


Calculating Executor Compensation

June 5th, 2014
executors and executor compensation

Did you know that an executor can receive executor compensation?

At our law firm in Stittsville (Ottawa), we focus on wills, estates, trusts and related work.  Because of this focus, we work with a lot of people who have been appointed as the executor (also called an ‘estate trustee’) of an estate.

As executors quickly find out, acting as an executor can be a big job. Some executors are surprised to learn that an executor can be paid for the estate administration work that the executor does.   Read the rest of this entry »


My brother passed away and he didn’t leave a Will…How do I become his executor and do I need an executor’s bond?

May 29th, 2014
intestate estate executor bond

The executor of an intestate estate must be appointed by a judge.

I recently met with Jill (not her real name) at my law office in Stittsville (Ottawa). Jill’s brother recently passed away. Although they had talked about it many times, her brother had never gotten around to doing a Will. In the law, we say that he died ‘intestate’. Jill was prepared to act as his executor but wasn’t sure of the process. Someone had also told her she would need something called an ‘executor’s bond’ but she wasn’t sure what that was. Read the rest of this entry »


The Trustee of my Henson Trust won’t provide me with any information…Is there anything I can do about it?

May 22nd, 2014
henson trust remove trustee

How can I get information about my Henson Trust from the trustee?

At our law office in Stittsville (near Ottawa), we have talked with clients who are beneficiaries of a Henson Trust. Most often, a parent or other relative has included a Henson Trust in his or her Will to help the trust beneficiary who has a disability.  Receiving an inheritance by way of a properly-drafted Henson Trust can mean the trust beneficiary’s benefits under the Ontario Disability Support Program (‘ODSP’) won’t be affected. A Henson Trust can also be set up in a separate document. Read the rest of this entry »


Executors Dealing With a Foreign Will And Foreign Assets

May 8th, 2014

I recently received an email from Jim who had some questions about his uncle’s estate and probate fees. Jim lived in India. Jim’s uncle, who was also a resident of India, had recently passed away leaving a Will.  Jim was named as executor (or Estate Trustee with a Will). His uncle had been a frequent visitor to Canada and had invested in a couple of Canadian GICs. Jim wasn’t sure what authority he needed to cash out the GICs.  He was also wondering about probate fees. He was hoping there was a way to avoid paying probate fees (or
in Ontario, ‘estate administration tax’) on the GICs. Read the rest of this entry »