Understandably, many of our clients wish to avoid probate. To explore how this might be done, if at all possible, it is essential to review the ownership of all assets, beneficiary designations, family relationships, tax implications as well as relationships among family members and the goals of the client. Only then can we recommend what steps should or should not be taken to avoid probate. Avoiding probate is usually possible when one spouse dies leaving a surviving spouse. For example, probate is not generally required if the spouses own assets jointly or where an asset, such as life insurance, is payable to the surviving spouse by way of a beneficiary designation.
In this five-part blog, I will discuss what probate is and how probate fees are calculated, which assets are subject to probate and which are not, when it makes sense to avoid probate and how to accomplish that, and when avoiding probate may not be the best strategy and why.
If I become seriously ill and incapable of making medical treatment and other personal care decisions for myself, I understand that the person that I have named as my attorney for personal care has authority to make such decisions for me (subject to any conditions in the document which appointed the person). If I later recover enough to make those decisions on my own, how do I take back decision-making power? In other words, how do I “turn off'” or stop my attorney for personal care from making decisions that I am now able to make myself. I live in Ontario, Canada.
If you have been named as an attorney for property and are about to begin acting or are already acting in that capacity, it is important to be aware of the wide range of responsibilities that you are taking on. Below is a list of ten essential things that you should know. Although not an exhaustive list, it includes ten points that many are not aware of.
The facts in this blog have been changed to preserve client confidentiality; however, both the real and fictitious facts illustrate the same tax and estate planning issues that arise in such situations and the importance of addressing them with clients and documenting that you have done so.
In the summer of 2006, our office began the process of going paperless. We are glad we took the plunge and have been pleased with the many benefits of having done so. In the hopes of inspiring others to go paperless, here are what we consider the top ten reasons to go paperless.
After speaking recently at the 4th Annual Solo and Small Firm Conference (May 6-7, 2009, Toronto), I have received emails asking for more information, especially on the topic of ‘going paperless’ in a small law office. In responding to those email queries, it occurred to me that my answers might be helpful to others. This is the first of what may be several blogs in which I share my answers. This one is about my thoughts on backups. For the office that goes paperless, reliable, frequent backups are critical as there is no paper copy available.
Attorneys for property take note! A recent court decision, Re Schaefers, has provided some guidance as to when the court will remove an acting attorney for property. Generally, the court will not interfere with the choice of an attorney who has been named in a valid Power of Attorney signed by a capable person (the ‘donor’); however, there are times when a court finds that it must intervene. This was one such case. Throughout this blog, where I refer to ‘attorney’ I mean the substitute-decision maker named in a document called a Power of Attorney. In this blog, an attorney does not mean a lawyer.
Just back from Toronto where I co-chaired (with Dan Pinnington) the 4th Annual Solo and Small Firm Conference and Expo (May 7, 2009) which was a great success. The conference was sold out! Throughout the day, there were many enthusiastic and very positive comments from attendees. It was great to see the results of months of planning and preparation. Lots of great, practical ideas were shared. Attendees were extremely engaged with speakers and with each other. The fact that we were all together for the day made for great networking opportunities (continental breakfast, buffet lunch and cocktail reception at the end of the day meant that no one had to leave to get food elsewhere).