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Donna Neff's Law Blog

Special Announcement

November 12th, 2015

This week I am delighted to share some exciting news with you. Beginning December 1, 2015, I will be working with Chantal Lafrenière under the new firm of Neff Lafreniere Estate Law Professional Corporation.

estate law ottawa

Chantal Lafrenière and Donna Neff

Let me take a moment to briefly introduce Chantal. She obtained a Bachelor of Social Science degree as well as a law degree from the University of Ottawa and was called to the Bar in 2004. Since then, she has worn many hats. She will use the experiences she gained through consulting, starting and running a successful business, and practicing in the areas of wills and estates to better serve our clients.  Chantal is bilingual and happy to communicate with clients in both English and French. Read the rest of this entry »


EIR FAQs: The Basics

November 6th, 2015

wills ottawa estate planningFiling an Estate Information Return has recently been added to an executor’s already long list of duties and responsibilities. The executors (also called estate trustees) I meet with at my law office in the Kanata-Stittsville area of Ottawa have lots of questions about this. Below I will explore the basics of the EIR by answering some of the questions executors have asked me. Read the rest of this entry »


I’ve got probate……Now what?

October 26th, 2015

What exactly is probate?

estate executor probate stittsville lawyer‘Getting probate’ is actually the process of legally establishing the validity of a Will.  In other words, the Court is asked to confirm that the Will before the Court is the Last Will of the deceased and to confirm the appointment of an executor (now officially called an estate trustee). When an executor ‘gets’ probate, what they are actually getting is a certificate issued by the Court called a Certificate of Estate Trustee with a Will. This is the authority that an executor or estate trustee needs to administer the deceased’s estate.

If the deceased did not leave a Will, someone must apply to Court for a Certificate of Estate Trustee without a Will (instead of ‘with a Will’). In this case, the process is to have the Court confirm the appointment of an Estate Trustee without a Will. The estate is distributed according to Ontario’s intestacy laws. Dying intestate means dying without a Will.

Now that I have the Certificate of Estate Trustee, what should I do first? Read the rest of this entry »


Estate Planning FAQs

September 25th, 2015

will power of attorney stittsville At our law firm, we focus exclusively in the areas of Wills, Estates and Trusts. As a result, I have the opportunity to work with a lot of individuals and couples on their estate planning at our office in the Kanata-Stittsville area of Ottawa. Below are some of the questions that I have been asked by estate planning clients as well as estate trustees or executors and beneficiaries.


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Estate Planning For Your ‘Home Sweet Home’

September 18th, 2015

estate planning real property spouse

Recent statistics reveal that Ottawa continues to enjoy a healthy real estate market. Home sales in August were up 6.6% over last August. For most of us, our home is our most valuable asset.  Makes sense that it should be carefully considered when doing estate planning. This is particularly true for couples.

Many of the couples I meet with at my law office in the Kanata-Stittsville area of Ottawa are not aware that there are essentially two ways a couple might hold title to their home. Each has very different consequences upon the death of an owner: Read the rest of this entry »


Dealing With The Family Cottage In Your Will

September 10th, 2015

cottage will ottawa lawyerMy last blogpost explored some ways for dealing with the family cottage. Some options for transferring the cottage to the next generation can be accomplished while you are alive. But perhaps you would prefer to continue owning and controlling the family cottage during your lifetime and let the family have it after your death.  If that’s the case, you can deal with it in your Will.

There are several ways to deal with a family cottage in a Will.  Deciding which one is best for you and your family will depend upon your estate planning goals and the wishes of other family members. Here are a few possible ways the cottage could be dealt with:


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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 »


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 »


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.

Read the rest of this entry »


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 »