stittsville will lawyer

Did you know that November is ‘Make A Will’ Month?

stittsville will lawyer
Every capable adult 18 years and older should have a Will!

The Ontario Bar Association has deemed November to be ‘Make a Will’ month. What a fitting way to encourage the roughly half of Canadians who don’t have Wills to see to their estate planning.

My affairs are so simple, I don’t think I really need a Will.

Many are surprised to learn that every capable adult over the age of 18 should have a valid, up-to-date Will. Even if a person has very few assets, most people do have something, whether it be some household goods or digital assets such as a Facebook or Instagram account. Also, everyone is required to file an income tax return every year and the year of death is no exception.

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I know I can appoint someone in my Will to have custody of my minor child but I’ve heard the matter will have to go to court…What does the court look at when awarding custody?

will estate stittsville lawyerMost new parents that we meet with are aware that they can name someone in their Will to have custody of their minor children should they die. More often than not, it is this critical appointment that is the driving force behind their estate planning. It is usually the most difficult decision they have to make. What many of these new parents are surprised to learn, however, is that any such appointment is only valid for 90 days.

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I’ve heard the Public Guardian will act as a guardian of property…how does that happen?

will estate lawyer stittsvilleThe Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (‘PGT’) is under the umbrella of Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General. One of the mandates of the PGT is the protection of individuals who have been found to be mentally incapable of managing their property. In such instances, the PGT may become a person’s statutory guardian of property.

Why is it called a ‘statutory’ guardian of property?

The role is called a ‘statutory’ guardian as it is created pursuant to a written law or ‘statute’. In Ontario, that statute is the Substitute Decisions Act (‘SDA’). The statute sets out how substitute decisions makers are appointed, including how the PGT becomes the statutory guardian of property of an incapable person.

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I’m executor of my brother’s estate….how do I deal with all of his digital assets?

stittsville wills estates lawyer
Unfortunately for executors, there is not much guidance to be gleaned from the law when it comes to dealing with a deceased’s digital assets. Quite simply, the law has not kept up with the rapid pace of technology in relation to what an executor should or should not do with a person’s digital assets upon their death.
That being said, drawing upon what the law does say with respect to how an executor is required to deal with the deceased’s assets and what we know about digital assets in general, here are the steps an executor should take with respect to the deceased’s digital assets:

Steps for Dealing with a Deceased’s Digital Assets

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“My common law spouse and I don’t have Wills. I don’t think that’s a big problem as I’m sure I would still get something if my spouse died. Right?”

What if my common law spouse dies without a Will?

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Living common law? Proper planning is essential.

When someone dies without a Will, their estate is distributed according to Ontario’s intestacy laws as set out in the Succession Law Reform Act (SLRA).  The deceased’s estate would consist of those assets that were solely owned by the deceased at the date of their death plus those assets that were payable to their estate such as life insurance or RRSP’s. Generally speaking, assets held jointly with a spouse and assets payable to a named beneficiary would not form part of the estate.
Under Ontario’s intestacy laws, only a legally married spouse is given the right to receive a share of a deceased spouse’s estate. So, in other words, a common law spouse does not have an automatic right to receive any of the estate of their deceased common law spouse.

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estate planning lawyer stittsville

Changes to the Principal Residence Exemption

estate planning lawyer stittsville
Do the changes to the principal residence exemption affect you?

The Senators in the playoffs, temperatures in the twenties, and tulips beginning to bloom…we think it is safe to say that spring has finally and truly arrived in Ottawa (although our friends to the west who have yet to put away their snow shovels may not agree). Another sure sign of spring is the bustling spring real estate market. This brings to mind changes to the principal residence exemption which were announced by the federal government last fall.
Generally speaking, when a capital property such as a home or cottage is sold, an individual is taxed on the increase (or ‘gain’) in the value of the property. The gain is calculated from the date it was acquired by the individual to the date it was sold. However, if the property disposed of qualifies as the individual’s principal residence, he or she can take advantage of the principal residence exemption to reduce or eliminate any taxes owing on the capital gain.

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Elder Abuse: Where to go for Help

wills lawyer stittsvilleGenerally speaking, elder abuse is any act that harms or threatens to harm someone who is 65 or older. Elder abuse can include physical, financial, emotional and sexual assault as well as neglect in the care of a senior. The results of a recent study on elder abuse are staggering:

  • In 2015, more than 750,000 Canadian seniors were the victims of some form of abuse;
  • Psychological abuse is the type most often committed with financial abuse as the second highest form of abuse;
  • 37% of financial abuse against seniors is perpetrated by a child or grandchild with only 10% committed by a stranger;
  • In most kinds of elder abuse, the perpetrator is more often a spouse, child or grandchild.

Given our aging demographics, it is expected that elder abuse will increase over the next few decades.

Is elder abuse a crime?

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