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Donna Neff's Law Blog

Estate Planning For The Family Cottage

August 27th, 2015

wills estates cottage ottawa

Oh, those lazy days of summer spent at the family cottage. It’s the stuff fond summer memories are made of. However because of those strong emotional ties that many of us have to our family cottage, estate planning around the cottage can present a challenge.

What options are there when considering what to do with the family cottage?  Should it be passed to the next generation or sold and the money shared?  If the plan is to ensure the family cottage remains in the family, some ways to accomplish this could include: Read the rest of this entry »

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Top Three Tips To Be Prepared For A Passing of Accounts

August 13th, 2015

estates lawyer Ottawa guardian of propertyLast week’s blogpost explored two questions I am often asked by individuals who have been appointed guardian of property for an incapable person: (1) what is a ‘passing of accounts’?; and, (2) how does the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT) get involved?

Here are my top three tips to help a guardian of property be fully prepared for a passing of accounts which is the process of having a court review and approve what the guardian has done with an incapable person’s assets. Read the rest of this entry »

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Passing of Accounts and the PGT: Show Me The Money!

August 6th, 2015

guardian property passing account At my law office in the Kanata-Stittsville area of Ottawa, I frequently meet with individuals who are acting as the court-appointed guardian of property for an incapable person. Two questions often come up: (1) what is a ‘passing of accounts’?; and, (2) how does the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT) get involved?

To set the stage, I first explain that the Ontario Substitute Decisions Act (SDA) governs the appointment of substitute decision-makers which includes attorneys (acting under a power of attorney) and guardians.  The Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT) is the government office that is responsible for ensuring a guardian of property acts in compliance with the SDA.

I go on to say that when a guardian of property is appointed, the guardian is required to have the guardian’s accounts periodically reviewed by the court. This is known as a ‘passing of accounts’.  As part of the passing of accounts process, the OPGT must be provided with a copy of the accounts.

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Part 3: What if Stacy is not capable to sign a Will? What happens to her money?

July 30th, 2015

intestacy ontario estate planningIn Part 1 of this 3-part blogpost, I explored the question about whether Sandra’s daughter with a disability, Stacy, should have a Will given the few assets that she has. Last week’s blog post discussed the question of whether or not Stacy has the mental capacity to sign a Will which is referred to as having testamentary capacity. In this final part, I will explore what happens if Stacy is mentally incapable of signing a Will.

If Stacy dies without a Will, she would die “intestate”.  She would be unable to name a beneficiary to inherit whatever assets she may own at her death including what may be left in her Registered Disability Savings Plan (‘RDSP’). Read the rest of this entry »

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Part 2 of 3: My adult daughter has a disability … Can she sign a Will?

July 23rd, 2015

capacity sign will ottawa lawyerLast week, in Part 1 of this 3-part blogpost, I explored the question about whether Sandra’s daughter with a disability, Stacy, should have a Will given the very few assets that she has.

However, the more challenging question that needs to be explored is whether or not Stacy has the mental capacity to sign a Will. Read the rest of this entry »

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Part 1 of 3: My adult daughter has a disability … Should she have a Will?

July 18th, 2015

adult child disability henson trustAs our office specializes in helping individuals with a disability as well as their families, I am often asked this question. Quite recently I met with Sandra and her daughter, Stacy, at my law office in the Stittsville-Kanata area of Ottawa. Stacy had been diagnosed with autism at a young age. They wanted to know whether Stacy should sign a Will. They advised that Stacy has a Registered Disability Savings Plan (‘RDSP’) of about $65,000 and a small bank account.

I advised Sandra and Stacy that the fact that Stacy has a fairly significant RDSP which continues to grow makes it essential for her to have a Will. Read the rest of this entry »

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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 »

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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 »

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