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gift cottage estate planning

I own a cottage and a vacant lot next door to it….Can I leave the cottage to my daughter and the vacant lot to my son?

gift cottage estate planningIn short, the answer is maybe, maybe not.

The governing legislation for land use in Ontario is the Planning Act. It describes how land uses may be controlled and who has the authority to impose regulations on land use. It also deals with ‘abutting’ or adjacent parcels of land.

One of the critical issues that needs to be explored is whether the cottage and the vacant lot are in fact two separate parcels of land which can be dealt with separately or whether they ‘merged’ into one parcel of land at some point in time. Two abutting parcels of land may merge into one parcel for the purposes of the Planning Act when they come to be owned by the same person (or entity). There are, however, many instances when the parcels will not in fact merge, for example, when a consent to sever the two parcels was previously obtained from the appropriate governing body.

If this issue is not explored and you gift your cottage to your daughter and the abutting vacant lot to your son in your Will and those two parcels have in fact merged, the unfortunate result is that your estate planning goals will not be met. If those parcels have merged, your son and daughter would equally share the merged parcel. This may not be the result you intended.

The law on the issue of whether or not abutting properties have merged is not the same across Canada. If you own abutting properties in another province, you will need to seek the advice of a lawyer who specializes in real estate law in that province to confirm the title to the properties and specifically whether they have merged.

Is it time for you to revisit your estate planning? Call 613.836.9915 or email to schedule an appointment to meet with me to discuss your estate planning goals. We focus exclusively in the area of Wills, Estates and Trusts and will put our expertise to work for you. We will review your unique situation and discuss the options available to you to make sure your specific wishes can be fulfilled.

Reproduction of this blog is permitted if the author is credited.  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.

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