Estate Planning

How This Radical Court Ruling Invalidated a Father's Racial Bias

Peter Spiro | Posted 02.13.2015 | Canada Politics
Peter Spiro

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.

How Lawyers Should Approach Issues of Mental Capacity

Suzana Popovic-Montag | Posted 01.24.2015 | Canada Business
Suzana Popovic-Montag

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.

Estate Planning Will Give Your Loved Ones Peace of Mind

Andrew Sheppard | Posted 10.06.2014 | Canada Business
Andrew Sheppard

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 a Spouse Dies Mid-Divorce

Suzana Popovic-Montag | Posted 09.23.2014 | Canada Business
Suzana Popovic-Montag

One scenario commonly encountered is the situation in which an individual dies while negotiating a separation agreement with their spouse, or in the midst of divorce proceedings. While a divorce order will void specific bequests to a spouse, merely initiating negotiations or proceedings may not.

How To Properly Appoint an Attorney For Property or Personal Care

Suzana Popovic-Montag | Posted 08.24.2014 | Canada
Suzana Popovic-Montag

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.

Do You Know How To Prove the Validity of a Will?

Suzana Popovic-Montag | Posted 07.06.2014 | Canada Business
Suzana Popovic-Montag

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.

How to Smooth the Wealth Transfer From Parents to Children

Leanne Kotchonoski | Posted 07.01.2014 | Canada Business
Leanne Kotchonoski

A successful estate distribution is one in which the family receives as much (and the taxman as little) as possible and the family is still able get together for the holidays without too much drama. Take steps to make this outcome likely by initiating a family discussion today.

Where Are Your Children Going to Go?

Tim Paziuk | Posted 06.28.2014 | Canada Business
Tim Paziuk

Where are your children going to go? I hope that everyone who has children has taken the time to get a will. If you do have a will I hope you've mad...

What Happens When You Disinherit Someone From Your Will

Suzana Popovic-Montag | Posted 06.09.2014 | Canada Business
Suzana Popovic-Montag

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.

Estate Planning: Advice for Those in Second Marriages

Suzana Popovic-Montag | Posted 05.04.2014 | Canada Business
Suzana Popovic-Montag

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.

Estate Planning After Your Second Marriage

Suzana Popovic-Montag | Posted 04.22.2014 | Canada Business
Suzana Popovic-Montag

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.

Estate Planning: Hold on to the Original Will

Suzana Popovic-Montag | Posted 04.06.2014 | Canada Business
Suzana Popovic-Montag

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.

"Someday" Isn't Soon Enough When It Comes to Estate Planning

Suzana Popovic-Montag | Posted 03.26.2014 | Canada Business
Suzana Popovic-Montag

After the death of a family member, it becomes much more difficult to manage relationships, especially when it is the family matriarch or patriarch, the "glue" that has held the family together, who passes away. Sometimes an individual will plan on creating an estate plan "someday." Neglecting the need for an estate plan can result in unmanaged family dysfunction, which is likely to lead to disputes that end up in court.

How Making a Will Can Save Your Family From Fighting

Suzana Popovic-Montag | Posted 03.10.2014 | Canada Business
Suzana Popovic-Montag

Family dysfunction is a universal phenomenon. Estate litigation is unlike other civil lawsuits in that there is much more than money at stake. Family relationships can deteriorate to the point where the recovery of the family unit is no longer an option. Estate planning can go a long way to help manage family relationships.

Make 2014 the Year You Commit to Getting Financially Fit and Healthy

Jane Blaufus | Posted 02.28.2014 | Canada Living
Jane Blaufus

This New Year as you make your resolutions, commit to making one that will get you healthy and fit -- financially. While setting personal resolutions have become second nature, the New Year should also be the time each of us sits down with family. Talk about what your financial goals are in 2014 and what you need to have in place to ensure that your family is protected and aware.

Estate Planning: Finding Heirs of the Deceased

Suzana Popovic-Montag | Posted 02.03.2014 | Canada Business
Suzana Popovic-Montag

After an estate trustee has had an opportunity to locate the testator's final will, he or she must locate all heirs of the deceased. An estate trustee has a duty to locate the beneficiaries of an estate and to inform them of their entitlement pursuant to the deceased's will or intestacy. Often, this is a simple task. Often it is not.

The Tax Burden of Estate Planning

Suzana Popovic-Montag | Posted 01.23.2014 | Canada Business
Suzana Popovic-Montag

In our most recent blog entry, we discussed the role of an estate trustee in determining the assets and liabilities of the estate. An important next step in the administration is to satisfy the tax burden of the estate, while ensuring compliance with the ongoing duty to account.

If You're Going to Hide Your Assets, Leave a Map

Suzana Popovic-Montag | Posted 11.06.2013 | Canada Business
Suzana Popovic-Montag

If an estate trustee is able to discover where the deceased stored important records, this is a great start to information-gathering. Difficulties can arise where the deceased has hidden assets away for safekeeping and failed to make these assets more accessible prior to death.

Your Estate Planning Should Include Pets

Suzana Popovic-Montag | Posted 11.17.2013 | Canada Business
Suzana Popovic-Montag

It is particularly important to give consideration to your living assets -- your pets. If these faithful companions survive their owners, their future care will be dependent upon the last expressed wishes of their masters.

September: Life Insurance Awareness Month

Jane Blaufus | Posted 11.04.2013 | Canada Living
Jane Blaufus

This weekend a piece of Ontario history burned to the ground with the overnight loss of the St. Jacob's farmer's market. Ironically, my husband and I ...

Make a Plan for Your Digital Estate, Too

Suzana Popovic-Montag | Posted 10.27.2013 | Canada Business
Suzana Popovic-Montag

Individuals are now leaving behind a multitude of digital content when they die, including information stored within social media profiles, emails, blogs, and media files, that can be passed on through a digital estate plan. Digital estate planning is becoming both more relevant and accessible.

The Three Documents Everyone Needs: Part II -- Powers of Attorney

Paul Taylor | Posted 10.26.2013 | Canada Business
Paul Taylor

There are two types of Powers of Attorney -- a Power of Attorney for Property, which is a document that gives another person the right to manage your affairs, and a Power of Attorney for Personal Care, which is a document that gives another person the right to make health care and other personal care decisions when you are incapable.

The Three Documents Everyone Needs, Part I: Wills

Paul Taylor | Posted 08.20.2013 | Canada
Paul Taylor

As a lawyer who practises primarily in estate planning and administration, I get to know all kinds of people. I learn about their families, their priorities, their jobs, and their lives. Most of these conversations start with clients telling me that their situation is simple, though they all reveal that our lives are anything but. Creating a legal document that respects these complexities is no easy task, but here are some tips to help you plan ahead.

Financial Abuse of Seniors Is on the Rise in Canada

Suzana Popovic-Montag | Posted 10.13.2013 | Canada Business
Suzana Popovic-Montag

One clear result of the trend towards an aging population is the increasing incidence of certain types of claims regarding elder abuse. An especially worrying trend is the increasing prevalence of the financial abuse of seniors, a specific subset and the most common form of elder abuse in Canada.

Avoiding Conflict Over a Family Will

Suzana Popovic-Montag | Posted 09.29.2013 | Canada Business
Suzana Popovic-Montag

Since leaving estate affairs out of order is the most frequently cited spark igniting family conflict over a will's validity, it is of paramount importance for practitioners to advise clients to consider a family conference in order to facilitate proper communication between beneficiaries.