Tag: lawyers

30 Jan

Miracle alert – Even legal services can change

Suzana Popovic-Montag Estate & Trust, Estate Planning, Uncategorized Tags: , , 0 Comments

Kudos to Lawyers & Lattes – a community law office and café in North Toronto – for breaking down barriers and daring to serve clients in a different way.

Lawyers & Lattes is a fully functioning storefront café – but also offers a full range of flat-rate legal services, from incorporations, to wills, to real estate transactions. You can drop in or schedule an appointment. Their website is worth a peek.

What Lawyers & Lattes has done is flip the focus from “what’s best for us” to “what’s best for clients.” It sounds easy, but our way of doing things is sometimes so ingrained that it can be difficult to truly see things from a different perspective.

The power – and danger – of the status quo

For service providers, a chosen method of serving clients is often based on the status quo, using a process and a “client experience” that’s been in place for decades. For example, it took decades for Ontario’s government-run wine and liquor retailer (the LCBO) to open true “stores” that let you view and handle bottles yourself. As late as the 1970s, many stores still required you to fill out paper slips and take them to a counter where a worker would fetch the bottle for you. It seems ludicrous today, but few questioned it in the 1960s.

And innovating today doesn’t guarantee success forever. While department stores like Eaton’s and Sears were true innovators in customer service at the turn of the 20th century, they were dinosaurs by the turn of the 21st century and eaten up by “innovate or die” companies like Amazon.

Get outside of your zone

You may have a seen this diagram before – I think it sums up a worthy goal for all of us.

It’s not easy – leaving your “comfort zone” is, by definition, “uncomfortable.” But the results can be worth it. Lawyers & Lattes is a small example of what can result. So, next time you’re at a crossroads, ask yourself how you can do things differently, and how you can do them better. You might be surprised at that magic it creates.

Thanks for reading … Have a great day,

Suzana Popovic-Montag

10 Oct

The great estate – 5 ways to make it happen

Suzana Popovic-Montag Beneficiary Designations, Estate & Trust, Estate Planning, Power of Attorney, Trustees, Wills Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

As estate litigators, we’ve seen a lot of bad estates and bad estate situations. The good news is because we know the bad, we can advise clients on how to avoid it and make their estate a great one. No uncertainty, no delays, no conflicts, no nasty tax surprises.

If you want to make your estate a great one, here are five essential elements that can make it happen.

  1. You’ve provided a clear path to the documentation

Ideally, your executor needs the original copy of your will – as do courts to ensure a smooth probate process. So, don’t make your will (and any other estate documents) hard to locate. Whether it’s stored at your lawyer’s office, or registered with the court, or stored in a filing cabinet at home, make sure that you and your loved ones remember where your will is and know how to access it. We discuss this issue in more detail here.

  1. Your estate assets are easy to identify

Don’t assume your family and your executor know what you own. Many of us scatter our assets and accounts more than we realize. Make a list of all bank and investment accounts, insurance policies, major assets, and any virtual assets of value and keep this list with your will or ensure your named executor has a copy.

  1. Your executor is trustworthy and can access the help they need

When choosing an executor, trust is essential as the person selected must be capable of acting impartially on behalf of your estate – regardless of their personal feelings about your estate and the beneficiaries.

While your executor doesn’t need to be an accountant or lawyer or investment advisor, they do need to be able to hire the expertise that your estate might require. In other words, they need to know what they don’t know, and have the common sense to seek out the tax, accounting, and legal expertise that may be needed.

This article provides a great “quick list” of things to consider when choosing an executor.

  1. Everyone knows what’s in your will – in advance

It is dangerous to assume that your intended beneficiaries know what is in your will and have no questions or concerns. Talking today about your intentions and your family members’ expectations lets you address any contentious issues while you’re alive – and avoid potential conflicts after you’re gone.

Even the most well-intentioned gifts – a charitable bequest, the china cabinet to a niece, the vintage hockey cards to a grandson – can lead to questions, hurt feelings and potential conflicts.

Don’t let it happen. Make sure that everyone who might be touched by your will at death knows exactly what’s in it.

  1. Tax planning in place – if needed

You’re deemed to have disposed of your capital assets at their fair market value when you die. This means your estate is liable for capital gains taxes on assets that have increased in value during your lifetime. Your executors may be forced to sell estate assets to pay for the tax liability – and a forced sale may mean the assets are sold for less than their fair value.

There are many strategies available to help cover an estate’s tax liability, from the use of trusts to the purchase of life insurance. Make sure you’ve considered whether tax planning is needed for your estate, and put a strategy in place if needed.

Thanks for reading … Have a great day!
Suzana Popovic-Montag

26 Jul

Who is the Ontario Children’s Lawyer?

Doreen So Continuing Legal Education, Estate & Trust, General Interest, Guardianship, Litigation Tags: , , , , , , , 0 Comments

The Ontario Court of Appeal recently considered the issue of whether the litigation files of the Office of the Children’s Lawyer are subject to a freedom of information access request in Ontario (Children’s Lawyer) v. Ontario (Information and Privacy Commissioner), 2018 ONCA 599.  This appeal arose from a father’s request for the production of the Children’s Lawyers’ records.  The Children’s Lawyer acted for the father’s children in the course of a custody and access dispute.  Accordingly, a portion of the Children’s Lawyer’s records were privileged.

Justice Bennotto, in writing for a unanimous panel, found that the issue turned on whether the records are “in the custody or under the control” of the Ministry of the Attorney General for Ontario (“MAG“) for the purposes of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. F. 31.

The answer was no.

 

The Children’s Lawyer’s records are not in the custody or under the control of MAG because she operates separately and distinctly from MAG and,

“[68]     [she] is an independent statutory office holder appointed by Cabinet through the Lieutenant Governor. She derives her independent powers, duties and responsibilities through statute, common law and orders of the court.

[…]

[72]      To allow a disgruntled parent to obtain confidential records belonging to the child would undermine the Children’s Lawyer’s promise of confidentiality, inhibit the information she could obtain and sabotage her in the exercise of her duties. This would, in turn, impact proceedings before the court by depriving it of the child’s voice and cause damage to the child who would no longer be meaningfully represented. Finally, disclosure to a parent could cause further trauma and stress to the child, who may have divided loyalties, exposing the child to retribution and making the child the problem in the litigation.”

For those practising in the estates and trusts context, it is important to note that the role of the Children’s Lawyer is different in family law.

In civil matters that implicate a minor’s financial interest in property, the Children’s Lawyer acts as the minor’s litigation guardian and she is represented by the lawyers of her choice.  In custody and access disputes, the Children’s Lawyer acts, at the request of the court, as the minor’s lawyer.

Bonus answer: the current Children’s Lawyer is Marian Jacko.

Thanks for reading this week!

Doreen So

10 May

Hull on Estates #466 – Safe Practices for Will Drafting and Estate Administration Lawyers

Hull & Hull LLP Hull on Estate and Succession Planning, Hull on Estates, In the News, PODCASTS / TRANSCRIBED, Show Notes, Show Notes, Uncategorized Tags: , , , , , , 1 Comment

This week on Hull on Estates, Natalia Angelini and Doreen So discuss Deborah Petch’s paper, “Safe Practices: Reducing the ‘Risky Business’ Factor”, which was presented at The Six-Minute Estates Lawyer OBA conference on May 3, 2016”.

Should you have any questions, please email us at webmaster@hullandhull.com or leave a comment on our blog.

Click here for more information on Natalia Angelini.

Click here for more information on Doreen So.

26 Apr

Conflicts of Interest and the Bright Line Rule

Nick Esterbauer Ethical Issues, Litigation Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

The Law Society of Upper Canada recently released an e-Bulletin that outlines recent amendments to our Rules of Professional Conduct with respect to conflicts of interest.

Like the changes made to the Rules of Professional Conduct in late 2014, some of which dealt exclusively with practice involving wills and estates, these amendments are in part based on the Model Code of Professional Conduct, which was created by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada in 2011 to assist in implementing consistent professional standards throughout the country in light of increased lawyer mobility from province to province.

photo-1429051781835-9f2c0a9df6e4

The new conflict of interest rules expand upon the changes implemented to reflect the terms of the Model Code, and introduce a reference to the 2013 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Canadian National Railway Co. v. McKercher LLP.  This decision and the commentary added under Rules 3.4-1 and 3.4-2 refer to a “bright line rule”.  While its scope in respect of conflicts of interest is suggested to be limited, the bright line rule can apply to unrelated work done by a lawyer for two clients if the advancement of one client’s interests are adverse to the immediate legal interests of another client.  Even a “substantial risk of impairment” of the representation of a current client is noted to give rise to a conflict.  In cases where there is actual impairment (rather than the mere risk of same), client consent to act in light of the conflict does not allow a lawyer to act.

The Report of Convocation with respect to these amendments indicates that the Rules of Professional Conduct were amended to provide lawyers in Ontario with further guidance in recognizing and dealing with conflicts of interest through the additional commentary.  While the amendments to the rules themselves are relatively minor, all lawyers, including estate practitioners, should make themselves familiar with them and review the relevant commentary when faced with situations of potential conflict.

Further changes to the Model Code of Professional Conduct have now also been proposed to address obligations of a lawyer who leaves one law firm to work elsewhere.  Only time will tell whether these proposed amendments to the Model Code ultimately make it into our Law Society’s Rules of Professional Conduct.

Thank you for reading.

Nick Esterbauer

17 Sep

Hull on Estates #348 – Notices of Objection

Hull & Hull LLP Hull on Estates, Podcasts, Show Notes, Show Notes Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Listen to: Hull on Estates Episode #348 – Notices of Objection

Today on Hull on Estates, Jonathon Kappy and Josh Eisen discuss the issue of standing to object to a will and motions to have notices of objection removed.

If you have any questions, please email us at hull.lawyers@gmail.com or leave a comment on our blog page.

Click here for more information about Jonathon Kappy.

Click here for more information about Josh Eisen.

11 Sep

Hull on Estates #347 – Application or Action?

Hull & Hull LLP Hull on Estates, Podcasts, Show Notes, Show Notes Tags: , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Listen to: Hull on Estates Episode #347 – Application or Action?

Today on Hull on Estates, Moira Visoiu and Jonathon Kappy discuss when an application should be converted to an action.

If you have any questions, please email us at hull.lawyers@gmail.com or leave a comment on our blog page.

Click here for more information on Moira Visoiu.

Click here for more information on Jonathon Kappy.

26 Jun

Hull on Estates #337 – Bankrupt Estates

Hull & Hull LLP Hull on Estates, Podcasts, Show Notes, Show Notes Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Listen to: Hull on Estates Episode #337 – Bankrupt Estates

Today on Hull on Estates, Holly LeValliant and Natalia Angelini discuss what happens to a home held in joint-tenancy when, after death, the deceased individual’s estate is pushed into bankruptcy.

If you have any questions, please email us at hull.lawyers@gmail.com or leave a comment on our blog page.

Click here for more information on Holly LeValliant.

Click here for more information on Natalia Angelini.

14 May

Hull on Estates #332 – Passing of Accounts

Hull & Hull LLP Hull on Estates, Passing of Accounts, Podcasts, Show Notes, Show Notes Tags: , , , , , , 0 Comments

Listen to: Hull on Estates Episode #332 – Passing of Accounts 

Today on Hull on Estates, David Smith and Jonathon Kappy discuss procedural nuances on a passing of accounts application. If you have any questions, please e-mail us at hull.lawyers@gmail.com or leave a comment on our blog page.

Click here for more information on David Smith.

 

Click here for more information on Jonathon Kappy

 

10 Apr

Hull on Estates #327 – Tips for Young Advocates

Hull & Hull LLP Hull on Estates, Podcasts, Show Notes, Show Notes Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Listen to: Hull on Estates #327 – Tips for Young Advocates

Today on Hull on Estates, Paul Trudelle and Jonathon Kappy discuss a recent article in the March 2013 issue of The Advocates’ Journal titled “Judges’ Tips for Young Advocates” by Gillian Kerr.

If you have any questions, please e-mail us at hull.lawyers@gmail.com or leave a comment on our blog page.

Click here for more information on Paul Trudelle.

Click here for more information on Jonathon Kappy.

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