Estate plans that are tailored to your personal and financial needs. We understand the legal and tax issues, but also the emotional and complex family dynamics that are often associated with this process. Illness, incapacity and death can be difficult to discuss. We guide you with clarity and compassion – with empathy – throughout your estate planning journey.
What is Estate Planning?
As your wealth increases and as your family grows, the complexities of your estate plan also increase. Estate planning involves anticipating and planning for the transfer of assets (e.g. property and money) when a person dies, as well as a variety of other important considerations such as:
Wills, trusts and powers of attorney are among the most important documents a person makes in their lifetime. They have a massive effects on a family and on ones finances.
What is an Estate?
An Estate is the property and assets that a person owns or has a legal interest in. The term is often used to describe the assets and liabilities left by a person after death.
What is a Will?
A will, formally known as a last will and testament, is a document in writing, that declares how a person wishes their assets to be distributed after death. You are not legally required to prepare a will. However, if you don't have a will, the laws in your province or jurisdiction will determine how your estate is divided, which may not be what you want. Your Will is the easiest and most effective way to tell others how you want your property and possessions – your estate – to be distributed when you die.
Even if you don't have much money or property, it's still a good idea to have a Will so you can name a trustee for you estate and guardian for your children, to protect your children and make it clear who you want making decisions after you die. In addition, there are many opportunities for income and probate tax planning that are simply not available to you if you do not have a Will.
Why make a Will?
Your Will is the easiest and most effective way to tell others how you want your property and possessions – your estate – to be distributed. Even if you don't have much money or property, it's still a good idea to have a Will so you can name an executor and guardian for your children, to protect your children and make it clear who you want making decisions after you die.
In addition, there are many opportunities for income and probate tax planning that are simply not available to you if you do not have a Will.
What is a Trust?
A Trust is like a funnel with restrictions, created to hold property or assets for the benefit of a particular person called the beneficiary. It is managed by a person called a trustee, who has an obligation to deal with the property for the beneficiary of the trust, as per the terms of the trust. There are many different kinds of trusts.
What is a Testamentary trust?
A testamentary trust is a trust or estate that is generally created on and as result of the death of the person. The terms of the trust are established by the Will or by a court order. If the assets are not distributed to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the Will, the testamentary trust may become an inter vivos trust.
What is an Inter vivos trust?
An inter vivos trust is a trust that is not a testamentary trust. There are many different types of inter vivos trusts. Some examples include:
Do I need more than one Will?
Otherwise known as “Multiple Wills”, “A Corporate Will”, “A Secondary Will” or a “Private Will” - Tthe use of multiple Wills is an effective estate planning strategy available to Ontario business owners and professionals to save and, sometimes, completely avoid estate administration tax on death. If you own property in another jurisdiction, it is advisable consult a local lawyer about having a Will cover your interests in that jurisdiction.
Do I need an estate plan for my business?
Business succession planning is the process of determining how you will transfer your business ownership and make the transition out of the owner/manager role. Whether you no longer want to run your business or you want to sell it to fund your retirement, without a transition plan, your business may suffer. We help implement a succession plan to facilitate the profitable transition of your business.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the right to make decisions on your behalf.
Are there different kinds of Powers of Attorney?
Yes. In Ontario there are different kinds of Power of Attorney:
Choosing your attorney for personal care
Choosing your attorney for property
What is a ‘good’ estate plan?
A well executed estate plan takes into consideration tax, probate and insurance, as well as family dynamics. It arranges your financial affairs to avoid ambiguity, unnecessary taxes, and litigation. It acts to safeguards your assets so that they will be transfer tax-efficiently to beneficiaries.
Estate planning is complicated for those with property in multiple jurisdictions or with blended families. We have experience dealing with dual domiciles, blended families and assets in multiple locations.
What is Disability Estate Planning?
Where a family member has a disability structuring a trust (Henson Trust) allows an individual with a disability to receive income from an inheritance while continuing to receive ODSP benefits. The essential elements of a Henson trust are: (i) that the trustee must have absolute discretion, (ii) that the assets of the trust do not vest in the beneficiary, and (iii) that there is a gift-over following the death of the beneficiary. Certain limitation apply as to how much inheritance they can receive while still maintaining government benefits.
We have experience with disability related estate planning issues, guardianship issues, as well as ODSP applications and appeals.
Do I need a lawyer to make a Will?
Legally you can make a Will on your own and you do not need to obtain legal advice, but because a Will and other estate planning documents are formal legal documents with specific requirements in order to be valid, it is a good idea to have your Will prepared by a lawyer. Using an online “Will kit” can set the stage for a potentially expensive and problematic estate disputes. Saving money on a Will in the short term, may add expense and complexity to your estate in the long run. The classic example given is, "would you operate on yourself?" If you do wish to proceed on your own, I refer you to the formalities laid out in the Succession Law Reform Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. S.26.
We can help you prepare your Will and Power of Attorney documents so that they will be valid under the laws of Ontario, Canada. Our estate planning process is user friendly, reliable and thorough. Allow us to take you on your estate planning journey.
We can help you prepare your Will and Power of Attorney documents so that they will be valid under the laws of Ontario, Canada.
Contact us to discuss your case and obtain personalized legal advice relevant to you.
The general information on this page is not applicable to any specific case and is intended for information purposes only. It is not a substitute for legal advice and may not be relied on as such. Readers are expressly advised to consult with a qualified lawyer for advice regarding their specific circumstances and entitlements under Ontario law.