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Donna Neff's Law Blog

How Much Can the Trustee of a Henson Trust be Paid?

September 25th, 2014
adult child disability henson trust

Can the trustee of my Henson Trust be paid?

You may already know that at our law office in Stittsville (near Ottawa), we specialize in estates and trusts. As a result, we often meet people who are beneficiaries or trustees of a Henson Trust and who want to understand how it works.

A Henson Trust is a special type of trust that holds the money and assets meant for a beneficiary with a disability.  A properly-drafted Henson Trust allows the beneficiary to be left an inheritance indirectly without affecting their benefits under the Ontario Disability Support Program (‘ODSP’). If an ODSP beneficiary receives an inheritance directly, ODSP benefits could be reduced or eliminated …  not usually what anyone wants unless the inheritance is a very large amount.

The trust is looked after by a trustee … a person or trust company appointed to manage or administer the Henson Trust assets. Sometimes clients want to know if the trustee can get paid and, if so, how much. Read the rest of this entry »


Three of the Biggest Mistakes Executors Make

September 19th, 2014

Acting as an executor is a big job. And one that comes with a lot of responsibility. Perhaps not surprisingly then, there is a lot of room for error and mistakes are sometimes made.

As we specialize in estates at our law office in Stittsville (Ottawa), we meet with a lot of executors and have first-hand knowledge of the mistakes that executors often make. Unfortunately, mistakes can be costly, both to the estate and to the executor.

Here are what I consider to be three of the biggest mistakes made by executors: Read the rest of this entry »


Top Three Tips for Choosing a Lawyer

September 11th, 2014
choose lawyer estates

How do I know which lawyer is best for me?


As we specialize in estates, from estate planning to getting probate and guardianship orders to administering estates, we see the good, the bad and the ugly of estates work. Mistakes are made, sometimes by the lawyer who drafted the Will, sometimes by the executor or guardian and often these mistakes translate into big losses for the estate.

Not long ago in our law office in Stittsville (Ottawa), we were casually talking amongst ourselves about the biggest mistake that an executor can make. One of our team members jokingly replied ‘hiring the wrong lawyer’. Read the rest of this entry »


My wife and I own our home together….That means it will just go directly to her on my death, right?

September 4th, 2014
estate planning real property spouse

How you own your property affects your estate planning.

I get asked this question a lot at my law office in Stittsville (Ottawa). People often assume that because they own their home together with their spouse, the property will simply pass to their spouse upon their death. This may or may not be true.

On the other hand, others believe they can always deal with their share of a property in their Will. This may or may not be true. Read the rest of this entry »


The Biggest Estate Planning Mistakes People Make Following Separation

August 28th, 2014
estate planning separation

Avoid these mistakes…..Review your estate planning following separation.

Going through a separation is unquestionably difficult. There are often financial difficulties, emotional upheavals, and myriad issues which must be dealt with. Things are even more complicated when children are involved.

Time and time again I speak with people who have made the mistake of not reviewing their estate planning following a separation. In a time of difficulty, it is understandable that things, even important things, may get overlooked. Unfortunately, the consequences of overlooking one’s estate planning following separation can be dreadful. Read the rest of this entry »


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 »