Every year, thousands of consumers create their own wills, powers of attorney, and other estate planning documents using kits which are available either on the internet or in retail locations. With a more sophisticated population and increasing numbers of people on the internet, there has been a proliferation of products available in recent years.
The challenge we face is, in the context of this unprecedented shift of multi-generational wealth, the trust industry -- those charged with stewarding this process -- has largely lost the public's confidence. Now more than ever, our aging population needs dedicated independent trust companies that are focused on helping families through difficult points in their lives, but we need to put the trust back in the industry.
People have always sought out new and innovative ways to reduce or avoid taxes. In estate planning, some of the more traditional methods have included designating a beneficiary directly in an insurance policy or naming a joint account holder with a right of survivorship. Multiple wills are another effective technique and as a result, have become increasingly popular over the last decade.
One of the more commonly used estate planning tools to avoid or reduce Estate Administration Tax is joint ownership or a joint bank account. When two people own an asset jointly, and one owner dies, the remaining joint owner takes ownership of the entire asset by right of survivorship, thus causing the asset to pass entirely outside of the estate of the deceased person.
Removing an estate trustee from office can be an onerous task. It requires the involvement of a court, even if it is not contested. This can be costly, time-consuming, and disruptive to the administration of an estate and to the beneficiaries. It is best to avoid this process altogether by picking the right person for the job at the planning stage.
The deceased Mr. Spence left his entire estate of $400,000 to his daughter Donna. He cut his daughter Verolin out of his will, reputedly because of racial bias. Madam Justice Gilmore ruled that this offended public policy, and was therefore rendered void. Once there is no will, the law decrees that each child of the deceased receives an equal share of the estate.
An advisable way to approach extracting issues of capacity with an elderly individual is through delicate conversation. It is important to avoid offending clients who may be uncomfortable, but it can be crucial to proper estate planning. Sometimes, apparent symptoms of incapacity can in fact result from cultural differences between client and lawyer.
Being the executor of a loved one's estate can be a very difficult task. With an estate plan in place and by taking a few basic steps to prepare, you can reduce the stress and loss of estate value considerably. Estate planning involves tough questions that ultimately give you and your loved ones peace of mind.
When appointing an attorney for property or personal care, it may be wise to request that they obtain legal advice with respect to its use to the grantor's benefit, when effective. Legal advice may come at a cost, but that expense is miniscule in comparison to litigation that may be caused by the misuse or abuse of a power of attorney, including a contested application to pass accounts.
One major difficulty in establishing the validity or invalidity of a will is that it is impossible to consult the testator to verify what his or her intentions were at the time that a will was executed. This often means that evidence such as solicitor's records or medical documentation must instead be relied upon to determine the issues of testamentary capacity and undue influence.
Disinheritance is a profound element of an estate plan. It can be triggered by a single, specific event, or result from the lifelong flaws of a relationship. For example, a parent may decide to remove one child as a residuary beneficiary under his or her will because of a heated dispute and subsequent estrangement.
In our most recent blog entry, we discussed the issue of second (or later) marriages from the perspective of clients who are seeking assistance in formulating an estate plan. We now move on to consider this issue from the perspective of lawyers who may be called upon by such individuals to draft wills and provide advice with respect to other aspects of estate planning.
In the past three decades, the proportion of divorced Canadian adults has more than doubled. One consequence of the increasing divorce rate is that more individuals are entering into a subsequent marriage, after beginning a family with a previous spouse. For estate planning, second marriages represent a challenge.
When setting up an estate plan, it is essential that a drafting solicitor takes the time to work through family dynamics and related challenges to prepare a comprehensive and sound estate plan for the family. The next step of executing the will leads to the question of what should then be done with the original signed document.