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Estate Planning

Secure Your Legacy with Thoughtful Estate Planning

Effective estate planning is crucial for ensuring your wishes are honoured, and your assets are protected. It provides peace of mind to you and your loved ones, knowing your estate will be managed according to your desires with minimal legal hurdles or tax burdens. Proper planning significantly reduces potential estate taxes and other tax liabilities, safeguarding more of your legacy for future generations.

Tailored Estate Planning Services:

  • Wills and Living Wills: Drafting and updating wills to reflect your current circumstances and future wishes. Addressing everything from simple bequests in a DIY will to complex provisions in case you die without a will, we ensure that your intentions are clearly articulated and legally sound.

  • Trusts: Establishing various types of trusts to manage your assets, protect your legacy, and minimize tax implications. Trusts are essential tools in estate planning that can help manage your inheritance tax responsibilities and provide for your beneficiaries in a tax-efficient manner.

  • Powers of Attorney: Creating durable powers of attorney for both financial and healthcare decisions to ensure your affairs are handled if you become incapacitated. This is a fundamental aspect of any comprehensive estate plan, allowing trusted individuals to manage your affairs without the need for court intervention.

  • Estate Tax Planning: Strategizing to reduce potential estate taxes and ensure maximum benefits for your beneficiaries. We offer guidance on gifting strategies and other methods to reduce your overall tax liability.

  • Succession Planning: Advising on business succession plans to ensure smooth transitions and continued operations. This includes planning for the gifting of shares or sale of your business interests to minimize disruption and tax implications.

Your Partner for Personalized Estate Planning

Estate planning involves sensitive decisions and complex considerations. We approach each client’s needs with a deep understanding and personalized attention. Your estate plan will be comprehensive, reflecting your specific wishes while providing for your loved ones’ future. Whether it’s creating a simple will or navigating the complexities of estate taxes, our goal is to offer peace of mind through meticulous planning.

Reach out for expert and compassionate guidance in estate planning. Our team is here to help you every step of the way, ensuring that every aspect of your estate planning—whether it’s drafting wills and trusts, managing your tax liability, or planning for the unforeseen—is handled with care and expertise.

While most people appreciate the importance of having a valid will, studies have found that the majority of Canadians don’t actually have an up-to-date will.

Getting your will drawn up can require a lot of thought and consideration, consultation with multiple family members, and an appointment with a lawyer. While it can be a time-consuming processes, our Estate Law Group can assist you in preparing a will that reflects your wishes and your interests.

The reality is that if you die without a will, you are dependant on provincial laws to deal with your estate. And these laws will likely not work in your favour.

Our team has expertise in many different estate situations, and can advise you on how to create a watertight will that deals with your assets and property in a manner that works for you.

The last thing you would want to leave after your death is a legal mess for your family to clean up, so the safest bet is to have a Will created. This will ensure your estate is divided among the people you care about most.

Most elderly individuals will reach a point where they are not able to manage their own affairs. Some people will choose someone to act on your behalf in this situation, such as a Power of Attorney for Personal Care or a Power of Attorney for Property.

However, sometimes these powers of attorney have not been specified. In these cases, someone will need to apply to be a substitute decision maker; that is, a Guardian of Property or a Guardian of the Person. These are also sometimes appointed by the court. The Guardian of the Person acts for the incapable individual in regards to personal care decisions, such healthcare, home maintenance, nutrition and medical treatment. Meanwhile, the Guardian of Property acts on behalf of the incapable person in all of their financial matters. The duties are similar to that of a Power of Attorney for Property, and include managing bank accounts, dealing with pensions and other income, paying bills and maintaining/selling property.

When establishing your estate plan, there are many different ways you decide to distribute your estate. Setting up trusts is a way to specifically provide for a beneficiary or organization, and also to minimise taxation of your estate.

In essence, a trust is a way to pass ownership of property from one person to another. They can be used in estate planning to provide for children from a previous marriage, a spouse or child who is disabled, or to reduce tax on your estate. In addition, trusts are often used when someone wants to make a bequest to a charity or not-for-profit organization. The two main types of trusts are as follows:

  1. Testamentary trusts: these are created upon the death of the person who set it up. They are usually established under a will.

  2. Inter vivos trusts: also known as a “living trust”, these are created during the person’s lifetime, and come into effect immediately upon their creation. These do not form part of an estate, and so are not subject to estate administration tax (probate fees).

As you are thinking about your estate plan, you will likely consider choosing someone you trust to act on your behalf in the event you are no longer about to make decisions for yourself.

This person is called a Power of Attorney, and there are two types:

  • Power of Attorney for Personal Care will look after your personal affairs, such as healthcare and housing. This role is only “activated” when you have been assessed as being incapable of making decisions for yourself.

  • Power of Attorney for Property, on the other hand, looks after your financial matters, such as paying bills, maintain or selling your house, and managing investments. This role is usually “activated” as soon as the documents have been signed. However, you can place a restriction that it only becomes active at some future event.

Power of Attorneys provide reassurance that your personal and financial matters will be in good hands once you reach a point of no longer being able to manage them. Our team can assist you in preparing powers of attorney for both personal care and for property.

You will have worked hard all your life to accrue assets for yourself and your family, and one aspect of good estate planning is all about protecting those assets.

When someone passes away, and before the distribution of the estate, there are a number of estate costs. These include estate administration tax (probate fees) and other taxes. In addition, if you pass away with any outstanding debts, whether they be to an individual, a bank or even the Canada Revenue Office, the payment of these debts will need to come out of your estate. And these debts are prior to the distribution of your estate.

There are ways that you can protect your assets from unnecessary fees and taxes. A most basic way is to have a valid and current will, which may avoid costly legal disputes. Another is to ensure all your life insurance policies and registered plans (such as RRSPs, RIFs, TFSAs, LIFAs, etc.) have a designated named beneficiary. This means that the assets will pass directly to that individual, and will not form part of your estate. You may also consider ensuring that any property you have is jointly own with another person (such as your spouse), so that it does not form part of your estate.

Making a specific provision in your will for a bequest is a great way to provide for a charity or a specific person. A bequest is a gift of money or property, and comes from your estate. If you pass away without a will, then you will not have control over gifts of this kind.

Bequests to charities and not-for-profit associations are very common, and something that many people include in their wills. However, it’s important the charity is clearly and correctly named in the will. For example, do you want the national head office to receive the gift, or the provincial branch?

If the bequest is for a minor, you can specify at what age this person will receive the gift (for example, 18 years of age). Note that if no age is specified, and the child is a minor at the time of estate distribution, then the funds will be paid either to the parent/guardian of the child (for bequests under $10,000) or to Ontario Superior Court by the estate trustees (the balance when it is over $10,000).

Bequests and gifts are not without problems. The main issue is when there are not enough assets in the estate to pay out the bequests in full. In these cases, the bequests will be abated; meaning they will be reduced in value.

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