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Donna Neff's Law Blog

What Is Probate?

April 17th, 2014

One question I get asked time and time again is ‘What is probate?’. Most people are familiar with probate fees but many aren’t really sure what probate is and when it is needed. Read the rest of this entry »


I’m selling my house…When will I get the money from the sale?

April 10th, 2014

The arrival of spring also marks the busiest time of year for the real estate market. Selling your home can be confusing, especially if this is your first time or you’re the executor of an estate and need to sell the deceased’s home.

One question that sellers want to know is how quickly they will get the money after the sale is completed.

proceeds from sale of house

When will I get the money from the sale of my house?

In most cases, the net sale proceeds (after payment of the real estate commission, legal fees, taxes, any mortgage, and so on) will be deposited in your bank account on the next business day.  In a few cases, the funds may be available for deposit late on the day of closing but this is not usually possible.

Sometimes, there is a problem on the day of closing and funds are not available right away.  For example, Read the rest of this entry »


Making Decisions Under a Power of Attorney

March 27th, 2014

Siblings often don’t get along, even at the best of times. Add the stress and emotion that accompany having to take care of an aging parent and relations can get even more strained.

estate planning powers of attorney

Acting under a Power  of Attorney? Keep the lines of communication open!

I recently met with Ottawa residents and siblings Derrick and Sherry (not their real names). Their mother had recently had a massive heart attack and suffered some brain injury as a result. As their mother had granted them a Power of Attorney for Personal Care, Derrick and Sherry had to decide where she should live as she was currently incapable of making this decision for herself. She had also appointed them as her Attorneys for Property.

Derrick and Sherry often disagreed on many things including where their mother should live.  Read the rest of this entry »


Roll-over of RESP to RDSP

March 13th, 2014

An exciting change to RDSPs is set to take effect sometime this year. Earnings in an RESP will be eligible to

resp roll-over to rdsp

Earnings in an RESP will be eligible to roll-over to an RDSP tax-free.

be rolled-over to an RDSP on a tax-free basis if the plans share a common beneficiary. There will be certain conditions that have to be met before the roll-over can occur. Read the rest of this entry »


How Being Thorough Can Save Money

March 5th, 2014

Estate Planning is a process that involves work by both the lawyer and the client. I recently met with Carl and Sue at my law office in Stittsville (Ottawa). During our meeting, they said how surprised they were at the amount of paperwork they were asked to bring to the first meeting.

I explained to Carl and Sue that there are very important reasons for thoroughly reviewing what they own and how they own it.  I commented that clients often feel the way Carl and Sue do but after hearing just one example, they’re usually convinced that it is important to do.   Here is one example.

If clients own real property, it can be owned as ‘joint tenants with rights of survivorship’ (JTWROS) or as ‘tenants in common’ (TIC). If owned as JTWROS,  when one owner dies, title to the property passes to the surviving joint owner without going through the estate of the deceased owner. In other words, probate fees are not payable on that real property.couple planner lawyer advisor

Read the rest of this entry »


My bank told me to sign the bank’s Power of Attorney form. That’s okay, right?

February 27th, 2014

Early in the new year, I met with Grace* to review her estate planning. She signed a new Will and Power of Attorney for Property (POA) naming her daughter, Julie,* as her executor and her attorney in the new documents.

Grace called me last week to let me know she had gone to her bank to give them the new POA document. She is getting older and, although her mind is still sharp, she likes the idea of Julie being able to manage her money for her. However the bank would not accept the POA because Grace had only an unsigned copy and hadn’t brought the original with her. The bank’s staff, trying to be “helpful,” offered to have Grace sign the bank’s POA form. However, they did not explain to her the problems that doing so could create.
couple meeting lawyer advisor planner
Read the rest of this entry »


Pitfalls to the ‘Cookie Cutter’ Approach to Estate Planning

February 20th, 2014

Just as no two people are alike, no two Wills should be exactly alike. Everyone’s situation is unique as are everyone’s estate planning goals. A one-size-fits-all or ‘cookie cutter’ approach is not appropriate for estate planning.

no cookie cutter estate planning

Avoid the ‘cookie cutter’ approach to estate planning!

Here are some of the common pitfalls that we have seen with type of approach. Read the rest of this entry »


What happens if someone appoints a person as their Estate Trustee (Executor) and that person refuses to do the job after the person has died?

February 13th, 2014
executor estate trustee

What if the executor I’ve named in my Will doesn’t want to act when the time comes?

The answer depends on what is in the deceased’s will.  If an alternate Estate Trustee (ET) is named who is willing and able to take on the job, the first named ET needs to sign a Renunciation and then the second-named ET can proceed.

If the first named ET refuses to sign the Renunciation, an application can be made to Court requesting that the first named ET either accept or refuse the appointment.

If the deceased’s will does not name an alternate and the first (and only) named ET renounces, an application can be made asking the Court to appoint someone such as a beneficiary named in the will or a creditor of the estate.  Various conditions must be met.

If you would like to discuss the appointment of executors in your Will, make an appointment to meet with one of our lawyers at our Ottawa office. Being an executor comes with a lot of responsibility and care must be taken to ensure you pick the right person for the job.





Reproduction of this blog is only permitted with written authorization by the author. If you have questions or if you would like more information, please call us at 613 836-9915. This blog is not intended to be legal advice but contains general information.  Please consult a lawyer or other professional to determine how the information in this blog might apply to you.


Estate Planning for Second Marriages

February 6th, 2014
estate planning second marriage

Careful estate planning a must for second marriages.

If you are in (or about to enter into) a second marriage, you will need to give some careful thought and attention to your estate planning. The most challenging question you’ll likely face is:  How do I make sure that my children from my first marriage inherit from me while making sure my second spouse is well taken care of?  If you do not have children but your spouse does, are you OK with all of your estate going to your spouse’s children or should your family, friends or favourite charities get what you’ve worked hard to accumulate? There is rarely an easy answer. Read the rest of this entry »


Do I Really Need a Will and Powers of Attorney?

January 30th, 2014
will power of attorney

My affairs are simple. Do I really need to do any estate planning?

When people find out that I specialize in estate planning, they often ask whether everyone needs a Will and Powers of Attorney. My answer is always a resounding ‘yes’.

Wikipedia describes ‘estate planning’ as the “process of anticipating and arranging for the disposal of an estate during your life. [It] typically attempts to eliminate uncertainties over the administration of a probate and maximize the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses.” Read the rest of this entry »