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Mississauga Wills & Estates Law Blog

Dealing with the house in estate administration

After the loss of a loved one, numerous tasks need attention before surviving family members may move forward with their lives. During the estate administration process, it may be necessary to handle the disposition of the decedent's primary residence. What most people may not understand is that any increase in the value of a home here in Canada from the date of death could end up being taxable.

Wait. A person's primary residence should be free from any taxes on the increase in its value under Canada law. Yes, it is true that if an individual's home qualifies and is designated as his or her primary residence, any value increase does not result in a tax liability. However, that only applies during a person's life.

Avoid Estate Litigation Surrounding Your Business

When deciding what will happen to your assets after your death, you may want to make sure that you pay attention to one asset in particular -- your Mississauga business. Perhaps you have already done some planning for everything else but still need to make arrangements for what will happen to your company after you pass away. There is no time like the present to make sure that you attend to this vital aspect of your life in order to avoid potential estate litigation in the future.

You probably spent a significant amount of time growing your business. You now need to carefully consider its fate after your demise. The options are many, and you may need some assistance determining the best course of action. More than likely, you want to ensure a smooth transition that limits the potential for costly delays and decisions that could jeopardize its continued success.

What happens when estate administration does not go as planned?

The harsh reality is that there is a lot of work to be done after the death of a loved one. Many Ontario residents find it challenging to manage their grief while working through routine estate administration tasks. Sadly, the process may turn out to be anything but routine, and the need for litigation may arise, which only further complicates things.

No one can truly predict how individuals will react when they lose a loved one. The person that was expected to cause problems could end up being the most reasonable of the bunch. On the other hand, a family member that no one expected to come forward to contest the will may do just that. In fact, any number of situations could arise that may lead to estate litigation.

Addressing the possibility of a lack of capacity to make choices

It can be challenging enough for young, or even middle-aged, Ontario residents to understand the value of a will or trust to dispose of their property after their deaths. Understanding that death may not be the only event under which estate-planning documents could be useful may be even more of a challenge. People tend to forget that there could be a time when they lack the necessary capacity to make decisions for themselves due to an accident or injury.

Under these circumstances, families could face time-consuming and expensive litigation in order to gain the right to make decisions for an ailing and incapacitated loved one. However, by executing powers of attorney, that could be eliminated. Ontario residents could benefit from executing a power of attorney for personal care and a power of attorney for property.

Understanding what is and is not the job of executors

When taking on the role of executor, many people have questions. What exactly are executors responsible for? I care for the person who named me, but am I cut out for this position? It is important for Ontario executors to understand the role they are to play before accepting it.

Probate and taxes are some of the most challenging issues executors are charged with, so it is a good idea for those who are named to have some understanding of bookkeeping and Ontario tax law. The person named will have to first determine the assets and liabilities of the estate. Then, he or she will need to pay all debts, inform beneficiaries of what they were left in the will, and conclude taxation and probate issues in order to provide those assets to said beneficiaries.

How death-bed will writing can lead to estate litigation

Putting off planning for one's final days is not uncommon. Many people procrastinate on making the difficult financial and familial decisions that come with writing a will. This leaves many Ontario planners scrambling to throw estate plans together when they are given a terminal diagnosis or if their health takes an abrupt turn for the worse. The lack of oversight in many of these quickly administered wills can lead to confusion, family conflict and estate litigation.

For example, one individual with many assets and a feuding wife and children had a sudden health turn. While in hospice, he asked a lawyer to help him draft and update his will and trust documents. After he suddenly passed, his wife was displeased with the decisions and, knowing his cognitive function was diminishing when he signed the documents, opened a case against the estate.

Tips for preventing estate litigation between family members

Preparing a strong estate plan can make a significant difference in the lives of loved ones after a person's death. However, if the will is poorly considered, recorded or communicated, it is possible that estate plans can cause family conflict and even estate litigation. Here are a few tips for Ontario estate planners and family members seeking to have a conflict-free transition of wealth.

The most important thing to do when preparing estate plans is to think carefully about who is named executor. Instead of defaulting to the oldest child, make an informed decision based on all possible candidates. Is the executor reliable? Do the individuals under consideration have the time, skills, and relationships needed for the job? An unreliable or shady executor can often end in conflict or a court battle between families.

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.