Tag: LLP

17 Apr

Hull on Estates #328 – Rights of Spouses

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Listen to: Hull on Estates #328 – Rights of Spouses

Today on Hull on Estates, Natalia Angelini and Moira Visoiu discuss the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision in Carrigan v. Carrigan Estate.  A link to the case can be found here.   

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 Natalia Angelini.

Click here for more information on Moira Visoiu. 

27 Mar

Hull on Estates Episode #325 – Top Cases of 2012

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 Listen to: Hull on Estates #325 – Top Cases of 2012

Today on Hull on Estates, Stuart Clark and Natalia Angelini discuss two of the most interesting cases of 2012 – Rasouli v. Sunnybrook Health Services Centre and another case dealing with proprietary estoppel.

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 Stuart Clark.

Click here for more information on Natalia Angelini.

27 Apr

OBA Trusts and Estates Section Year End Dinner

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The Ontario Bar Association (OBA), Trusts and Estates Section, year end dinner is taking place on Tuesday, May 31, 2011 at the Archeo (Distillery District), 55 Mill Street, Building 45, Toronto. The Reception begins at 5:30 p.m. with Dinner at 6:30 p.m. As Chair of the Section, I will have the pleasure of bringing the past year to a close. As well, the Section Executive for 2011/2012 year will be announced. The Section will also pay tribute to this year’s recipient of the OBA Award for Excellence in Trusts and Estates, Mary MacGregor.

The Award for Excellence was created to recognize exceptional contributions and achievements by members of the OBA to the area of trusts and estates.


26 Apr

Proposed Amendments to the Estate Administration Tax Act

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The Ontario Government’s recent Bill 173 (the Budget Bill) deals with, amongst many other things, proposed amendments to Estate Administration Tax Act, 1998 (Schedule 14).

Estate Administration Tax is applied to the value of an estate when the estate’s representative applies to the court for a certificate of appointment of estate trustee (often referred to as probate). Currently, court staff of the Ministry of the Attorney General administer the tax. Bill 173 proposes amendments to the Estate Administration Tax Act to enhance, it has been said, compliance by integrating the administration of this tax with audit and verification functions at the Ministry of Revenue, starting January 1, 2013.


01 Apr

Life was Easier Before the Digital Era…

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In the days prior to the evolution of the Internet, planning and administering an estate was relatively simple as the physical belongings of the deceased could be carefully sorted through, packaged, and divided according to the Deceased’s testamentary document or the applicable legislation.

In the days since the  Internet has become a common household tool, planning and administering an estate has not been so easy. In a study commissioned by Remember A Charity, The Dying in a Digital Age, it was discovered that four in five people own digital assets, but only nine per cent have considered how these will be distributed upon their death.

According to the study, the nation’s digital music collection is worth an estimated £900 million alone.

Three quarters of those surveyed for the study indicated that their digital music and photo collections had strong sentimental value, while eight out of ten said their digital assets were financially valuable.

Rob Cope, director of Remember A Charity said: ”Bank accounts, music and photograph collections are increasingly stored online…meaning families will wave goodbye to a small fortune if details are not passed on.”

There is now an entire cyber existence that both the Deceased and Trustees need to turn their mind to when planning or administering an Estate. For instance, what will become of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and PayPal accounts? One easy solution is to subscribe to a website called Legacy Locker. Legacy Locker was created in 2009 and it maintains a master list of user names and programs for online bank accounts, social networking sites and document repositories. 

In the digital era, it is important that we consider and make arrangements for how our digital assets will be distributed, and for estate planners, it may be just as important that you consider including in your questionnaire or checklist, a question that forces a client to turn their mind to consider their digital assets. 

Thank you for reading, and have a great weekend.

Rick Bickhram – Click here for more information on Rick Bickhram.

28 Mar


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Within the next twenty years, Canada’s baby boomers are in line to inherit a substantial fortune, which will represent the largest transfer of wealth from one generation to the next.

In an article written by Jennifer Power Scott and published in Canadian Living, Ms. Scott discusses the  bittersweet bonanza that many heirs face and cautions the impulsive spender: "There are a lot of people in this world who might go out and blow the whole thing in a week, and that’s not appropriate. Unless you’re well-heeled to begin with, flushing the funds into trips to Las Vegas, sexy cars and plush home theatres probably isn’t the smart way to go."

In her article, Ms. Scott stresses the importance of carefully planning what to do with your inheritance, so that your inheritance can turn into a gift that lasts. Ms. Scott urges those who have received a windfall inheritance to:

  1. Take a breath. Put your inheritance somewhere safe that earns a good guaranteed rate of interest for a few months while you think things through
  2. Once you are ready to make a decision, speak to a certified financial planner
  3. Consider your option, such as satisfying outstanding debts, investing into an RESP for your children, or an RRSP or RRIF for yourself

Essentially Ms. Scott’s article forces her readers to consider their long-term goals as opposed to their short-term goals. "It pays to step back a little bit. Some people will immediately say, I’ve got this money, I don’t deserve it all, and maybe I should start helping out my kids right away. But they need to make sure that their financial future is properly secured before they do that."

Thank you for reading, and have a great day,

Rick Bickhram – Click here for more information on Rick Bickhram.

09 Feb

Common Will Mistakes

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Dianne Nice, an author for The Globe and Mail, wrote a piece on her experience in planning her estate. Her article, "Will Mistakes: I’ve Made a Few", focuses on errors that she encountered when creating her estate plan. 

Ms. Nice states that while she was pregnant with her second child, she and her husband decided it was time to draw their wills. Ms. Nice and her husband met with a local estate lawyer and instructed the lawyer to prepare two simple wills with their children’s welfare in mind.  However, no consideration was given to the possibility that either her or her husband could become incapacitated. If this unfortunate circumstance was to occur, it would likely lead to several other legal issues. For instance, after speaking with a reputable estate lawyer, Ms. Nice learned that even though her husband and her were joint owners of their home, if her husband became incapacitated and did not name her as his power of attorney, she would not have the right to sell or refinance their home.  Also, just because they are married, that did not mean she has the right to make financial decisions for her husband without a power of attorney or a guardianship order.

Other common errors that Ms. Nice pointed to were:

•           Placing too much trust in your delegated financial decision maker

•           Avoiding making a will by using beneficiary designations and joint ownership of assets

•           Leaving behind a handwritten or will kit will instead of retaining professional assistance

•           Neglecting to update your will as you enter marriage or a committed relationship

•           Not updating wills to reflect the life stages of your children

•           Trying to change your will by writing on the original or a copy of the will, or using too many codicils

The above errors should provide insight for consideration when we are considering our estate plan.

Until tomorrow,

Rick Bickhram – Click here for more information on Rick Bickhram.

08 Feb

How to Manage Your Inheritance

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In an article published over the weekend, Alison Griffith of the Toronto Star writes that over 21 per cent of Canadian households had received an inheritance averaging $91,000.  This amount is likely to jump as our society continues to age.  As estate lawyers we are often so focused on the importance of advising clients of having an estate plan that we rarely consider the other side: after you have received your inheritance, how do you manage the new found wealth?

Ms. Griffith states: "unexpected money – and sometimes expected money – creates both financial and emotional challenges."Many of us who receive these windfalls often stress over the idea of what to do with the money and how will it be managed. 

In her article, Ms. Griffith recommends that anyone who has received a windfall should follow the following four steps, which will likely assist them in making more informed decisions:

  1. Take a deep breath and acknowledge the reality of the situation.  If you received an inheritance the chances are there is a death of someone important in your life.
  1. Don’t rush.  Ms. Griffith tells a story of an old friend who inherited over $200,000, following the death of her mother.  She advised that she intended on "playing around" in the stock market.  Six month later – she didn’t want to talk about how "play time" ended.  Ms. Griffith states:  "As the calendar advances you almost certainly will change your mind about what you want to do with your windfall.  Meanwhile, park it in short-term GICs or high interest savings account."
  1. Seek advice.  "Contact a fee-only or fee-for-service financial planner who doesn’t sell anything other than their services."
  1. Reduce your expectations.  "Don’t expect your windfall magically to turn you into a blissful resident of Shangri-La."

Receiving an inheritance can cause the beneficiary to experience mixed emotions.   It is important to consider the above steps to avoid making an impulsive decision, which is likely to lead only to regret.  

Rick Bickhram – Click here for more information on Rick Bickhram.


07 Feb

Dual Co-habitation and Claims for Support

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Can a deceased person, immediately before his or her death, be found to have been in a common law spousal relationship with two persons, each of whom could assert a claim for support as a dependant?  This was the interesting question recently considered on a motion for interim support under Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act (“SLRA”).

In Blair v. Cooke, the Applicant commenced an Application against the Estate seeking dependant support, and subsequently brought a motion seeking interim support from the estate.   In support of her application, the Applicant filed an extensive affidavit describing the history of her relationship with the Deceased and argued that she is a dependant spouse of the Deceased, thus, entitled to support under the provisions of the SLRA.  The court was also provided with numerous affidavits of friends and acquaintances confirming the Applicant’s 11-year relationship with the Deceased.

The Respondent is the estate trustee of the estate for the Deceased, and also argues that she is the Deceased’s common law spouse.  It is important to clarify that the Respondent does not make a claim for dependant support, but rather opposes the Applicant’s application.  In doing so, the Respondent filed her own affidavit and the affidavit of friends and acquaintances, which would corroborate that she was the Deceased’s common law spouse.  The Respondent argued the court should not make any finding of entitlement to support for the Applicant, because doing so would preclude her from claiming support (if she decided to make a claim at a later date) or claiming that she was in fact the “spouse” of the deceased.

In considering whether or not a person could have two spouses for the purpose of making a dependant support claim, the court considered section 57 of the SLRA, more particularly the following definitions:

1.      “Dependent” can be a  “spouse of the deceased…to whom the deceased was providing support or was under a legal obligation to provide support immediately before his or her death…”.

2.      “Spousal” is further defined under the SLRA as “either of two persons who…are not married to each other and have co-habited…continuously for a period of not less than three years”; and

3.       “Co-habit” is defined to mean living together “in a conjugal relationship”.

The “twist” that I found interesting in this case, was that the court found that there was enough evidence to conclude that the deceased may have co-habited with two different women, in different homes.  The court stated that they did not have to determine that one party was a spouse and the other was not for purposes of awarding interim support; in fact both women could qualify.  The Applicant was awarded interim support.

Rick Bickhram

04 Jan

Looking Forward to 2011

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I hope everyone had great holiday season.

With the close of 2010, we turn and look to the promise of 2011. In looking ahead to 2011 many may wonder if they have properly protected and provided for those they intend to protect should something unexpected happen to them. Questions may also arise regarding whether a spouse or parent has taken steps to provide for themselves and/or those they intend to provide for.


While there are no doubt many things to consider for the new year from a family perspective, perhaps this is the year to resolve to consider, or reconsider, whether your family’s legal affairs have been properly planned.


I wish everyone a healthy, happy and prosperous 2011.


Craig R. Vander Zee – Click here for more information on Craig Vander Zee.


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