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Mississauga Wills & Estates Law Blog

Estate administration and planning with charitable giving

One of the decisions some people make when planning the distribution of their assets is to include a sizable charitable donation. Including charitable giving in an estate plan can be a great way to give back, though it can raise some estate administration considerations. For example, Ontario tax codes and legal steps should be taken into account when preparing for such a gift.

The first step for someone planning to donate some of an estate is to clarify these plans in a will. This can have some benefits to beneficiaries as well, since it can reduce liabilities when it comes to probate. However, these benefits are easier to access when a will clearly specifies the wishes to donate assets and thereby receive the proper tax deductions.

Tips after getting a large inheritance from estate administration

As baby boomer generations age, many are thinking about succession and estate plans. But are their children and grandchildren prepared to manage the inheritance they will be left with? For many young people in Ontario, receiving such a large sum can be daunting, and knowing what to do following estate administration can be challenging. Here are some tips to consider.

The first thing to consider after inheriting a large sum is smart financial planning. While buying a cottage or boat might be tempting, consider debt repayment and investments first. Those who inherit assets such as real estate or stocks rather that liquidated money should also look into whether it is financially wise to sell these assets or keep them in their current form.

What executors should know about life insurance

When a person passes away, people are typically aware that some of the next steps involve distributing the deceased's assets to next of kin according to his or her will. In Ontario, those who are designated to complete this task are known as executors. But do executors also have a role to play in the distribution of life insurance payouts that come following a person's death?

As many people in Canada invest in life insurance, this is an important question that many have when it comes to executing wills. While executors typically are not directly involved with life insurance, they may come into contact with policies as they go through paperwork and organize documents. For this reason, it is helpful for them to understand a bit about how these policies work.

Options for managing vacation homes as part of an estate plan

Due to its high value, extensive maintenance costs and emotional implications, family property is often one of the most contentious parts of estate planning and administration. This challenge can extend beyond the Ontario family home, with vacation homes often carrying many additional challenges for planners and beneficiaries alike. Here are a few options for estate planning with a vacation home in the mix.

One option is to simply sell the home and divide the proceeds among the next of kin. While this is often the simplest option, it can carry a heavy price tag in some cases. Along with selling expenses, capital gains can be sizable if the property has appreciated in value since its purchase.

The need to name a guardian and create a trust for horse owners

Most horse owners are well aware of the financial obligations that come with their unique hobby. From vet bills to riding lessons, Ontario equestrians often face a hefty price tag and a myriad of responsibilities. Among these is the need to create estate plans that address the future of horses in case something happens to their owner, including naming a guardian and providing adequate funds.

The cost of horse ownership can be quite high, both in terms of monetary investment and time spent caring for the animals. Among the costs to consider are boarding, medical care including dental bills, as well as riding lessons and show expenses for those for whom equestrianism is a hobby. Horse owners often spend between $6,000 and $25,000 per year on their animals, not including the time invested.

Estate planning conversations to have when remarrying

One of the most common conflicts when it comes to a person's estate are when children dispute the inheritance of a spouse. This can become contentious when the spouse is new and not the parent of the child in question. Those who are remarrying in Ontario should have open conversations about their estate plans with everyone involved and clarify their wishes in a will.

Family conversations are important when it comes to estate planning and remarriage, especially if adult children are in the picture. If children or the new spouse are unaware of estate planning intentions, they could take steps to dispute the will after death. Involving a lawyer in these conversations can help to make it a less emotional and more business-like discussion.

Estate administration tips for frequent flier miles and points

The recent death of famed travel journalist Anthony Bordain raised many questions about estate planning considerations that come with a jet-setting lifestyle. One of the questions asked on this topic was about what happens to Bordain's loyalty points and frequent flier miles during estate administration. Ontario travelers could benefit from keeping this topic in mind when drafting their own estate plans.

Bordain had accumulated enough frequent flier miles and loyalty points to have broached the topic in his will. He advised that his estranged wife should inherit these and use them as he would have wanted. But how exactly does one inherit loyalty points and miles?

Alter ego and joint partner trusts may ease estate administration

Trusts are a tool that Canadians often use to organize their estates. Used correctly, the right trust or trusts can ease estate administration and lower tax or probate costs. In 2001, two new trusts became available to estate planners in Ontario and throughout Canada: alter ego and joint partner trusts.

These trusts are fairly similar. Through either of these trusts, settlors can transfer capital assets from their living trusts into one of these trusts under a few conditions. This transfer will be tax-deferred and the assets will transfer within the terms of the trust rather than through the estate.

Estate administration with a family business has added complexity

Family businesses can be a wonderful thing to pass down between generations, but they can also add serious complexities to estate planning. If estate plans are not carefully drafted to account for business-related assets, family businesses run the risk of being dissolved or sold during estate administration or other life events. Those who own Ontario family businesses, such as farms, shops or other enterprises, should consider a few things when planning for the future besides simply who gets what when the primary owner passes away.

The first thing people should plan for is incapacity. Many people think that the only time their estate plans will kick in is if they die, but the truth is that injury or illness can render someone unable to make decisions for themselves. Sometimes, a person will be incapacitated and then recover and be able to take on the business once more. Planning for these potentialities is a good idea.

Disputes over a family home can result in estate litigation

Many people consider the financial value of assets when planning the future of their estate, but what about the emotional value? Both money and memories can be tied up in a family cottage, making it a difficult thing to manage when the principal owners are no longer around. For this reason, the family cottage often ends up at the center of heated estate litigation involving Ontario families.

One of the things that can make cottages particularly difficult to manage in estate administration is the fact that many such properties are co-owned by additional family members. Added concerns, such as affordability and upkeep, can cause conflict within families. In some cases, families choose to simply sell the property once co-owners begin to pass away as they do not want to take responsibility for the property financially.