ottawa kanata estate lawyer

I’ve heard of probate, but what does it actually mean?

ottawa kanata estate lawyerMost of us know that every capable adult should have a Will. However, for obvious reasons, it is something that often gets put on the backburner as it can be difficult for some to think about. The death of a celebrity passing away without a Will often serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of making sure our own estate planning is done and up-to-date. Recently, it is the unfortunate passing of Prince that comes to mind. It has been reported that he died without a Will leaving behind a $150 million dollar estate.
Along with careful consideration of our loved ones, estate planning generally involves a discussion about probate fees and how to avoid them. In order to have this discussion, it is important to have a basic understanding of what the process of getting probate and calculating probate fees means in Ontario.

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kanata estate planning lawyer

It’s Moving Week For Us….And an Executor’s To-Do List

kanata estate planning lawyerOur big moving week here at Neff Lafreniere Estate Law has finally arrived. We couldn’t be more excited. Beginning May 1, we will work out of our new space at 120 Iber Road, Suite 107. This is just a few blocks away from our current location. Although our address will change, all of our other contact information will remain the same.
Our predecessor law firm, Neff Law Office, moved to our current location in the Stittsville/Kanata area of Ottawa in 2001. Since that time, we have made countless fond memories of time spent meeting with clients and building our knowledge and experience in the areas of wills and estates. We can’t wait to continue this tradition in our new space.
Of course with every move comes a ‘to-do’ list which seems to be a mile long and growing by the minute. Notifying service providers, ordering new office equipment, deciding what to take and what to leave behind are just some of the many tasks to be checked off the list.
As we go through our to-do list, we are reminded that the executors (also called estate trustees) that we meet with are faced with an equally daunting to-do list as they begin their duties as an executor.

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wills ottawa estate planning

EIR FAQs: The Basics

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.

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I’ve got probate……Now what?

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?

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estate ottawa lawyer

EIRs and Audits: What You Need To Know

estate ottawa lawyer
What if my Estate Information Return is audited?

The New Year brought with it some big changes for Ontario executors or estate trustees. At my law office in the Kanata-Stittsville area of Ottawa, there has been plenty of discussion about the new Estate Information Return (EIR) and the potential for an executor to be faced with an audit.  Executors have always been responsible for ensuring the right amount of probate tax, now referred to as estate administration tax or EAT, is paid.  The primary purpose of filing the new EIR filing is to ensure that all assets have been properly reported, valued and the applicable EAT has been calculated and paid.  With the new rules in place, executors need to be prepared for an audit if their EIR is selected for review. Here’s what you need to know.

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My father just passed away. He has bills that need to be paid. What should I do?


This is one of the questions I am most frequently asked at my law office in the Kanata-Stittsville area of Ottawa. Generally, the individual has been named as executor in the Will of the deceased but does not yet have access to the deceased’s bank account.
The first thing I remind the executor (‘estate trustee’) is that if they were acting as the deceased’s Power of Attorney for Property, their authority as Attorney ended on death. So, the Power of Attorney for Property cannot be used to pay the deceased’s bills.
It may be possible to have the deceased’s bills paid in a couple of other ways:

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estate planning ottawa law

Help! My Will divides my estate among my ‘issue per stirpes’ but what does that mean?

estate planning ottawa lawIf you have asked this question, don’t worry, you are not alone. At my law office in the Kanata-Stittsville area of Ottawa, we often get asked this question. Most of our estate planning clients and the executors or estate trustees we work with have not heard the term “issue per stirpes” before. It likely goes without saying that the language of legal documents is unfamiliar to most people and can be difficult to understand.
“Per stirpes” is a latin term meaning “by roots” or “by branch”. “Issue” refers to everyone down the family tree starting from a particular person.  So my “issue” would include my children, my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren and so on.  It would not include my parents, siblings, nieces or nephews. 

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wills ottawa estate planning

Executor FAQs

At my law office in the Kanata-Stittsville area of Ottawa, we focus on the areas of wills, estates and trusts. Because of this, I have the opportunity to meet with a lot of executors. Here are a few of the questions I often get asked bywills ottawa estate planning executors:

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joint assets estate planning

Are Joint Bank Accounts Really Joint?

joint assets estate planningYou may be surprised to learn that the answer is ‘not always’. This is especially the case when the joint owners of a bank or investment account are a parent and an adult child.
At my law office in the Kanata-Stittsville area of Ottawa, I met with Sharon. Her widowed mother had recently passed away after a brief illness. Her mother’s Will divided the estate equally between Sharon and her brother, Bill.
Unfortunately, a point of contention had arisen between the siblings. At issue were two bank accounts held jointly by Sharon and her mother. Bill was adamant that these two bank accounts should be treated as part of their mother’s estate. Sharon, on the other hand, claimed that because the bank accounts were held jointly, they automatically belonged to Sharon after their mother’s death.

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