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Donna Neff's Law Blog

Will estate administration tax (probate tax) have to be paid on my children’s (or grandchildren’s) RESP?

June 18th, 2015

resp probate estate planningWith the end of the school year quickly approaching, it seemed like a good time to consider this question. At our law office in Ottawa, we are asked this question time and time again by the executors we work with and by our estate planning clients. Many are surprised at the answer.

A Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) is often opened by a parent or grandparent, the subscriber, to save for the post-secondary education of a child or grandchild. Many subscribers mistakenly assume that upon their death the RESP will be treated like other registered assets, such as TFSAs and RRSPs, which pass directly to the beneficiary that they have named. Read the rest of this entry »


EIRs and Audits: What You Need To Know

June 12th, 2015
estate ottawa lawyer

What if my Estate Information Return is audited?

The New Year brought with it some big changes for Ontario executors or estate trustees. At my law office in the Kanata-Stittsville area of Ottawa, there has been plenty of discussion about the new Estate Information Return (EIR) and the potential for an executor to be faced with an audit.  Executors have always been responsible for ensuring the right amount of probate tax, now referred to as estate administration tax or EAT, is paid.  The primary purpose of filing the new EIR filing is to ensure that all assets have been properly reported, valued and the applicable EAT has been calculated and paid.  With the new rules in place, executors need to be prepared for an audit if their EIR is selected for review. Here’s what you need to know.

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How to Solve the Second Marriage Problem

June 9th, 2015

estate planning ottawaWhat is the second marriage problem?  If a couple marry or live common law a second or even a third time, how do each of them ensure that children from a previous marriage or relationship inherit but the second spouse isn’t left destitute or worse yet when the first spouse dies.

Dr. Samuel Johnson famously remarked that remarrying was “the triumph of hope over experience.”  Whether marrying again or ‘living together’ in a subsequent relationship, at the beginning hope is usually high that this one will last forever.  That’s the ideal time to talk about the problem … “How do we take care of each other if one of us dies and yet ensure that our own children inherit from us?”.

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I signed my Will a few years ago but have since divorced … Is my Will still valid?

May 28th, 2015

estate planning separation

I’m asked this question quite frequently at my law office in the Kanata-Stittsville area of Ottawa. The answer is yes, under Ontario law, but with one qualifier. If the testator (the person who signed the Will) is legally divorced from his or her spouse when the testator passes away, any Will signed before the divorce is still valid but would be read as if the testator’s spouse had died first. All other provisions of the Will would still be effective. However, if the testator’s circumstances have changed since the Will was signed, the Will’s remaining provisions may no longer reflect the testator’s goals. Read the rest of this entry »


My father just passed away. He has bills that need to be paid. What should I do?

May 14th, 2015

This is one of the questions I am most frequently asked at my law office in the Kanata-Stittsville area of Ottawa. Generally, the individual has been named as executor in the Will of the deceased but does not yet have access to the deceased’s bank account.

The first thing I remind the executor (‘estate trustee’) is that if they were acting as the deceased’s Power of Attorney for Property, their authority as Attorney ended on death. So, the Power of Attorney for Property cannot be used to pay the deceased’s bills.

It may be possible to have the deceased’s bills paid in a couple of other ways: Read the rest of this entry »


Good News Regarding RDSPs

May 7th, 2015

registered diability support plan deadline

Budget 2015 included an exciting extension for individuals with a disability and their families with respect to registered disability support plans (RDSPs).  Budget 2012 had previously introduced a temporary measure to help those with a disability open an RDSP if the person with a disability did not have the ability to enter into a contract and did not have a legal representative such as a guardian or Power of Attorney for Property. In such cases, certain qualifying family members, including a parent or a spouse, can become the RDSP holder. This temporary measure was originally put into place until December 31, 2016. However, this deadline has been extended to December 31, 2018. Read the rest of this entry »


Help! My Will divides my estate among my ‘issue per stirpes’ but what does that mean?

April 30th, 2015

estate planning ottawa lawIf you have asked this question, don’t worry, you are not alone. At my law office in the Kanata-Stittsville area of Ottawa, we often get asked this question. Most of our estate planning clients and the executors or estate trustees we work with have not heard the term “issue per stirpes” before. It likely goes without saying that the language of legal documents is unfamiliar to most people and can be difficult to understand.

“Per stirpes” is a latin term meaning “by roots” or “by branch”. “Issue” refers to everyone down the family tree starting from a particular person.  So my “issue” would include my children, my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren and so on.  It would not include my parents, siblings, nieces or nephews.  Read the rest of this entry »


Tax Rules Are Changing … Are testamentary trusts (including Henson trusts) still worth doing?

April 23rd, 2015

estate administration how longFor many reasons, the answer could still be ‘yes’ despite the Canadian government’s decision to tax almost all testamentary trusts at a higher rate.

What is a testamentary trust?

A testamentary trust is one that arises as a result of a death. A testamentary trust, including a Henson trust, can be included in a will or in a separate document. Read the rest of this entry »


Top Three Tips for Trustees of Henson Trusts

April 16th, 2015

adult child disability henson trustAt my law office in the Kanata-Stittsville area of Ottawa, some of the individuals that I meet are acting as the trustee of a Henson trust.  If I were asked what are the top three tips you share with trustees to make the job go as smoothly as possible, here are my answers: Read the rest of this entry »


Executor FAQs

April 2nd, 2015

At my law office in the Kanata-Stittsville area of Ottawa, we focus on the areas of wills, estates and trusts. Because of this, I have the opportunity to meet with a lot of executors. Here are a few of the questions I often get asked bywills ottawa estate planning executors: Read the rest of this entry »