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Mississauga Wills & Estates Law Blog

What kind of authority does an Ontario guardian receive?

Taking over the decision-making process for a loved one can be a daunting prospect. Most family members who undertake this task want to do their best, but may not understand what it entails. Becoming a guardian for an Ontario resident comes with numerous responsibilities and duties.

Stepping into a person's shoes to make decisions for them begins with determining what would maximize his or her quality of life. This often means that every choice made should start with considering the comfort of the loved one in question. The wishes of the incapable person may be taken into consideration as well. For instance, he or she may desire to live in a certain place. In considering living arrangements for the incapable person, it will also be necessary to consider health care and other needs.

Leaving the most assets available during estate administration

After spending your career building wealth, you may want to make sure that you can leave a legacy for your family members after you pass away. You can continue to build your financial portfolio with the help of an Ontario financial advisor. You may also want to make sure that most of the assets you own at your death go to your loved ones during the estate administration process.

You could accomplish this by including an estate planning and probate lawyer as part of your team. The reason that you hire a financial advisor is because you do not have the knowledge it takes to properly invest and grow your assets. The question is whether you can trust that person to look out for your best interests. It might not hurt to have someone working with him or her to make sure your estate continues to grow and serves you during your life and your family after your death.

Increasing longevity shifts estate planning focus for many

Statistics Canada says that the fastest growing age demographic in the country is those over the age of 80. Estimates indicate that by around the year 2036, 3.3 million Canadians will fit this demographic. This trend could significantly shift the focus of estate planning.

When considering estate planning, most people here in Canada think about disposing of their property after death. That thinking neglects an important part of the process -- planning for incapacity and long-term care. This part of planning an estate requires more attention than it would otherwise receive.

Make estate administration easier by avoiding probate

Even if an Ontario resident's probate is not the longest one, it could take longer than surviving family members can afford or handle. To avoid this scenario, others may find it useful to structure their estate plans in such a way that estate administration is easier and takes less time. Taking steps to avoid probate can take the process in a direction that allows family members to access assets right away.

Estate planning offers numerous methods for distributing and transferring property outside of probate. For example, a trust could allow heirs and beneficiaries near immediate access to the assets the trust holds. Another way to get quick cash to loved ones is through beneficiary designations.

Avoiding estate litigation after a second marriage

Blended families are fairly commonplace these days. Ontario residents who find love and marry for the second time often come into the relationship with their own assets and their own children. This makes planning vital in order to avoid estate litigation upon death.

Most Ontario residents want to provide for the children from their first marriage while also taking care of a new spouse and perhaps even stepchildren. Doing so could cause some tension among surviving family members unless the estate-planning process is handled appropriately. Before proceeding, it would help to review any existing documents to determine what will remain and what will change.

What to look for when starting estate administration

After the death of a loved one, certain matters will require settlement. Before any other steps in the estate administration process can be taken, all of the deceased individual's assets need to be located and protected. It is important to be as thorough as possible in this process in order to ensure that all matters are resolved at the same time in order to avoid any complications in the future.

When most Ontario residents think about locating assets, they probably begin looking for physical assets such as household goods, homes and automobiles, among other things. While these are included in the estate, many nonphysical assets also require location such as life insurance policies, deposit or investment accounts and retirement accounts. Finding these and other such assets will more than likely involve looking for a paper trail. In many cases these days, it will probably be necessary to review digital assets for some of these assets as well.

Does the prospect of serving as a guardian make you anxious?

Perhaps you have come to the realization that your aging parent can no longer make good decisions for him or herself. You may wonder if you are simply applying your standards to your parent, but you still have a nagging feeling that it would be in his or her best interest to have a guardian appointed. This is usually a necessary step when the individual requiring assistance does not have a power of attorney in place, which would bypass the need to receive permission from an Ontario court to make decisions on behalf of someone else.

You want to protect your parent from endangering his or her health or losing property due to the inability to make good decisions. An Ontario court could grant you a guardianship over your parent even if he or she objects. You probably understand that losing the ability to make decisions for yourself would be a difficult situation to face. Your parent may not necessarily be a willing participant in the process, but that does not mean you will not be successful.

Why does it pay to plan for estate administration?

Every family is Ontario is unique. What may work for one family makes no sense for another, which is why there are so many choices when it comes to estate planning. For many families, failing to plan for the estate administration process could be disastrous.

Your family's dynamics play a pivotal role in how you structure your estate plan. If your family gets along well, you would make different decisions than if you knew that at least two of your loved ones would argue no matter how fair you attempted to be. Even if you believe that no one will oppose your wishes, it would still be a good idea to include some protections for the process. What those protections are in your case will undoubtedly be different from those of someone else.

Ontario executors may want to keep a few things in mind

Being chosen to administer the estate of a loved one is a privilege that comes with numerous duties. As Ontario residents undertake these duties, they may want to keep a few things in mind in order to make sure they get through the process successfully. This begins with knowing what is expected of them as executors.

The administration of an estate could require numerous steps to complete depending on the circumstances. As many as 70 tasks may require an executor's attention over the course of the administration. Unfortunately, many people underestimate the commitment they undertake when they agree to do the job.

Serving as a trustee may be another part of estate administration

When an Ontario resident dies, it is up to the people he or she designated to take care of all outstanding matters and property distribution. This often means probate, but that may not be the only aspect of estate administration of the decedent's affairs that someone to handle. If a trust was set up prior to death, taking over the duties associated with it is crucial.

If you are the person your loved one designated to serve as the trustee of his or her trust, you have several duties to attend to both immediately and over the life of the trust. One of them involves working with the beneficiaries of the trust, which could require some finesse. If the personalities do not work well together, you may need a neutral third party such as a lawyer to assist you.