As I was reading the Financial Post, I came across an interesting article entitled, What Will You Do With Your Estate? In this article, Jonathan Chevreau explains that there are two schools of thought when a parent is deciding how to plan their estate.
On the one hand, some parents believe in transferring the wealth that they have accumulated during their lifetime to their children. On the other hand, some parents believe in “dying broke”. Although it sounds harsh, parents from the second school of thought, often follow the belief that their “kids should stand on their own feet.”
Most of us will fall in between the two extremes; however in his article, Mr. Chevreau reviews the strategies associated with both schools of thought.
Parents who wish to maximize their estate often don’t like to leave their kids with any debts. Parents from this camp are more likely to “Commute the value of their death benefit pensions in order to maximize RRSP assets … wipe out any lien’s on their residence … give an inter-vivos gift to their children and pre-pay their funeral.”
In the other camp, parents leaning towards the “die broke” philosophy often try to maximize their assets during their lifetime by using three main techniques: pensions, annuities and reverse mortgages. The nature of all three is to maximize income for the parent and their spouse during their lifetime, while leaving little or nothing for their children.
Wherever along the spectrum you fall, it bears discussing your estate plan with your spouse, kids and a good financial planner or estate planning expert.
Rick Bickhram – Click here for more information on Rick Bickhram.
Having an open conversation with your parents about their financial matters and the importance of estate planning is never an easy task. Medical studies have indicated that people who have lived through the Great Depression prefer to keep their financial affairs to themselves. This presents a challenging task for loved ones trying to discuss with their parents financial matters and particularly who is best equipped to handle their finances if they are unable or how they expect to pay for long-term care should the need arise.
The New York Times recently published an article entitled, “Talking with Depression-Era Parents About Money”. In this article, Tara Siegel Bernard, the author, suggests the different ways that adult children could broach the topic with their parents such as:
Show and Tell: “Adult children could talk about their own estate plans – a show and tell”. This forces the parent to give thought to their children’s estate plan and opens the door for the child to ask how the parents have handled their own affairs.
Parental Duty: “Appeal to their duties as parents.”
Bring in a Pro: “Some parents may also feel more comfortable discussing their financial situation in front of a disinterested party, like a long time accountant, lawyer, or financial planner.” It appears that Ms. Bernard suggests having a disinterested party present could help the parent feel more secure, which likely would have the effect of the parent opening up about their financial matters. This sounds like a good idea; however, a word of caution, this suggestion also could lead to estate litigation, as arguments of undue influence could be advanced in the circumstances.
Timing: “Make sure you choose a good time and place to bring up the topic”. Obviously, having this sort of discussion at the family holiday party is not a good idea.
Thank you for reading and have a good day.
Rick Bickhram – Click here for more information on Rick Bickhram.
An article published in The Columbus Dispatch, an Ohio publication, shows us how vulnerable seniors can be to fraud through the purchase of financial products that are technically legal but not in their best interest.
An 83 year-old woman had her life savings placed in an annuity but was subsequently solicited to cash in her existing policy and buy a new one. The 83 year-old suffered from partial blindness as a result of diabetes, dementia and she had recently moved into a nursing home. After being convinced to purchase a new annuity, the woman died two weeks later. She received one monthly payment of $1,500 before she died.
The beneficiaries of her estate received half of what they thought they should have from the new annuity and sought to recover from the investment company. The arbitration panel of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority sided with the deceased’s estate and awarded the beneficiaries of her estate compensatory damages.
The article states that this is not an uncommon practice. In January 2008, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority fined the broker $225,000 for “making unsuitable sales of deferred variable annuities to 23 customers”.
Annuities can be great investments, but BUYER BEWARE. If there are questions about the age and health of the potential purchaser, it may not be in their best interest to purchase the annuity.
Thank you for reading,
As I am sipping on my coffee this morning, I am thinking to myself, who can commence a will challenge?
A will challenge can be commenced pursuant to 75.06(1) of the Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 75.06(1) is a procedural remedy that permits any person who appears to have a financial interest in an estate to apply for directions or move for directions in another proceeding. This begs the question, who is considered to have a financial interest in an estate? This issue was addressed in the Ontario Superior Court (Divisional Court) decision of Smith v. Vance.
In Smith, the Deceased died on October 27, 1995, leaving a will dated January 5, 1994 which named the applicants as the estate trustees. A notice of objection was filed by three individuals who were cousins of the deceased through marriage. The objection was subsequently struck by the Honourable Justice Perras during the motion for directions on the grounds that the objectors did not have a financial interest in the subject-Estate. In this hearing, the objectors appealed this decision.
The objectors asserted their financial interest in the Estate based on their close relationship with and their physical and financial assistance for the deceased. There was also an earlier destroyed will in which the objectors were named beneficiaries. Finally a letter was allegedly written by the deceased wherein she acknowledged that the objector will have an interest in her estate.
The court acknowledged that a financial interest is not defined in the Rules of Civil Procedure. In such cases, words should be taken by its natural meaning. Black’s legal dictionary defines financial interest as an interest equated with money or its equivalent. The court held that claimants must do more than simply assert an interest. They must present sufficient evidence of a genuine interest and meet a threshold test to justify inclusion as a party. The interest need not be conclusive evidence at that stage but must be evidence capable of supporting an inference that the claim is one that should be heard.
If the evidence offered by an objector is capable of supporting an inference that the claim raises a genuine issue, and thus is one that should be heard, the objector is entitled to standing and should be granted permission to be added as a party. The appeal was allowed and the order by the Honourable Justice Perras was set aside.
I hope you had fun reading today’s blog. Until tomorrow,
Listen to Accounting Under the Powers of Attorney
This week on Hull on Estates, Diane and Paul discuss accounting under the powers or attorney, the duty to account after the guarantor has passed away and the De Zorzi Estate v. Read case (2008, O.J. No. 944).
Listen to Talking About Wealth and Personal Finance.
This week on Hull on Estates Suzanna and Ian review the pullout in March 18th’s New York Times and talk about the importance of dialog before and after death.