Most often, there is no question that someone has died. But when someone has been missing, it's a difficult call to make, especially when dealing with estate administration duties. In Ontario, as in the rest of Canada, there are procedures to follow when declaring someone officially dead.
When a loved one dies, usually the last thing on family members' minds is dealing with the legalities of the death, yet these matters should receive prudent attention. Ontario residents involved with a deceased person's estate administration should familiarize themselves with what to do in the event of a loved one's demise. Apart from doing the obvious -- like arranging the funeral and seeing that all documents are secured, like a death registration, death certificate, burial certificate, etc. -- the executor(s) of the estate should look into the situation of a will.
When a man or woman writes a will, it is no doubt their hope to leave enriching gifts to those whom they held most dear in life. Unfortunately, once a person has passed on, he or she has no control over what his or her relatives do. Estate administration can become lengthy and unpleasant when descendants squabble over the estate, as one celebrity family is proving right now.
Have you been appointed as an estate trustee in Ontario? Are you unfamiliar with or overwhelmed by your administrative obligations? If so, you are not alone.
A timely article from CBC News relates directly to our recent post on how estate property is distributed in the absence of a will. Specifically, we discussed the Estates Act and the Succession Law Reform Act, and how those legislative acts determine the distribution of estate assets in Ontario when someone dies without a last will and testament.
Creating a will is an essential part of estate planning, and not taking this basic step can prove extremely costly for the estate -- not only in terms of unnecessary loss of assets, but also in terms of heart-rending family conflict. Additionally, when a person dies intestate -- that is, without a will -- provincial laws determine who will be estate executor and how estate assets and debts will be distributed, and this manner of distribution is often not in the best interests of the family.
Ontario's estate administration tax -- commonly called the estate tax or probate tax -- is calculated based on the total value of the deceased's estate at the time of death. The assets to be valued include:
According to Statistics Canada, the average net worth of Canadian families has risen significantly in the last two decades. Between 1999 and 2012, average wealth increased by 73 per cent -- from $319,800 to $554,100. Much of this wealth is held by baby boomers, and it is estimated that, in the next four decades in North America, more than $30 trillion in assets will be passed from boomers to their heirs.
If you have been appointed as an estate trustee in Ontario but are unsure of how to manage all of your duties, then you are not alone. Many trustees and executors feel this way, especially after the death of a loved one.
When planning the eventual distribution of your estate assets, one of your primary goals is to ensure that your wishes are communicated clearly. However, in a world increasingly characterized by our connection to digital technologies, estate planners have to think not only about which heir will receive what, but also about whether heirs have access to digital assets.