It has been said that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This statement rings true in the context of estate planning. A disorganized estate plan is ripe for expensive litigation that will deplete the assets of the estate. A Last Will and Testament is usually the cornerstone of an estate plan but can be disputed by disappointed beneficiaries.
According to Statistics Canada, the "sandwich generation" now includes more than two million Canadians -- or 28 per cent of all caregivers in Canada -- with the majority being women between 35 and 44 years old. This number is only expected to rise as Canada's population ages and the older generation is no longer capable of caring for themselves. That leaves us with a generation stuck with caring for their late-leaving adult children and their ailing parents at the same time. How do they cope?
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.
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.
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.
Those in the market for snowbird condominiums or other properties south of the border need to buy what it is they can afford and can make them happy, without their estate plans at the forefront of their mind. However, it's important not to be naïve in these cross-border property purchases, in order to ensure assets pass on in a meaningful way.
The use of joint accounts is an exercise in the balance of convenience and control. We are frequently advising our clients that, despite the added convenience and tax-saving advantages associated with joint accounts, adding another person to an account substantially reduces your control over that account.
On an individual's death, a new taxpayer is created. The estate trustee is responsible for tax on income earned by the individual up to the date of death. All too often, an estate trustee will begin administering the deceased's assets, only to realize that the deceased had failed to properly file and pay taxes during the later years of his or her life.
When a person is an executor of another's estate, it is a lot of hard work. The task often puts the individual in an unpleasant position of conflict. In order to remunerate these individuals for the risks and efforts that they have undertaken, attorneys, executors and trustees may claim compensation for their work out of the assets which they administer.
Because of the importance of powers of attorney to the rights and quality of life of an individual who has become incapable, it is absolutely essential that they be kept up-to-date. A careful review of your powers of attorney should be undertaken every three to five years or after any material life events, such as a marriage or a change in health conditions.
Any approach to dealing with an emotionally charged asset such as the family cottage may lead to disagreements. By taking appropriate steps, communicating with one another, finding creative solutions, and by working together as a family, the cottage can continue to be the source of cherished memories for future generations.