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Michael Prsa

Phone: 905.452.6880
Fax: 905.451.5058
mjprsa@lawrences.com

Mike chairs the Wills, Trusts & Estates Group at Lawrences.

Mike is recognized as a leading practitioner in estate planning and estate administration and has practised exclusively in trusts and estates since 2002. Before that, he practised litigation, with extensive experience in a wide variety of family law and estate disputes. With his background in family law, Mike is uniquely positioned to assist individuals in blended families or who have had multiple marriages or relationships. He has guided many families through crisis situations involving unexpected death or incapacity. Other lawyers, accountants, financial advisors and financial institutions regularly ask Mike to help high net worth individuals and business executives develop effective, practical estate plans. He has extensive experience drafting planning documents including single and dual Wills, Insurance Trusts, Spousal Trusts, Inter Vivos or Living Trusts, Testamentary Trusts and Powers of Attorney. Whether your estate planning needs are simple or complex, Mike can tailor a plan that meets your unique goals and objectives.

Representative Work

  • Working with numerous tax professionals, Mike has extensive experience designing tax plans that allow clients to avoid or defer capital gains tax on death, claim a capital gains exemption, or provide income-splitting opportunities.
  • Working with our Business Law Group, Mike helps business owners, including medical professionals, develop integrated solutions for the effective and efficient transfer of personal and business assets.
  • Mike has administered a wide variety of estates and trusts, assisting executors, trustees and attorneys for property with the fulfillment of their duties and obligations. He also helps beneficiaries to realize their financial interest in an estate.
  • He has processed numerous probate applications (Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee with or without a Will). He has also dealt with a wide variety of estate accounting matters, including the formal passing of estate accounts in the courts.
  • Over the past 30 years, Mike has prepared numerous Marriage Contracts and Cohabitation Agreements. He has also helped many clients develop plans that make fair provision for a second spouse while also providing for children of a prior relationship.
  • Mike has extensive experience dealing with families who have children with special needs. He crafts Henson trusts and other planning documents that provide maximum benefit from the trust assets while also preserving ODSP benefits.
  • Mike also provides solutions for the transfer of the family cottage or family farm and for disposition of assets located in other jurisdictions.
  • Mike has assisted numerous families with the administration of estates or property of family members who die without a Will (intestate) or who become incapacitated but do not have a valid Power of Attorney. Mike has completed applications for guardianships and has experience dealing with the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee and the Children’s Lawyer for the Province of Ontario.
  • As a former litigation lawyer who has dealt with a wide range of estate disputes, Mike also provides opinions on Will challenges, removal of executors, and breach of trust claims. He also has experience with the administration of estates pending litigation, the filing of family law elections, dealing with “dependant relief”, and the resulting trust claims.
  • Mike is a panel lawyer for the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee and the Children’s Lawyer for the Province of Ontario.

Affiliations

  • Member of the Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners (STEP)
  • Member of the Mississauga Estate Planning Council
  • Former member of the Executive Committee, Trusts and Estates section, Ontario Bar Association and former chair of the Statutory Review Committee
  • Peel Law Association
  • Ontario Bar Association
  • Law Society of Upper Canada

Involvement

  • Member, Advisory Board, Brampton and Caledon Community Foundation
  • Member, Advisory Board, Brampton Retirement Council
  • Former Member, Donor Development Committee, Canadian Mental Health Association-Peel
  • Member, Canadian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce
  • Member, Brampton Board of Trade
  • Former Director, Big Brothers of Peel

Awards

  • 2010 Canadian-Croatian Professional of the Year

Speaking Engagements/Teaching

  • Past instructor in estate planning, Bar Admission Course on Trusts and Estates, Law Society of Upper Canada
  • Participated in a five-week program on estate planning on Radio 740 AM
  • Speaker at Ontario Bar Association and Peel Law Association seminars on estate planning
  • Past lecturer in Business Law at Sheridan College
  • Regular speaker and presenter at estate-related programs offered by some of Canada's leading organizations, financial institutions, and charities

Publications

  • "Transitioning the Family Farm” coauthored with Chris Markou, The Lawrences Letter, Spring 2014.
  • "Guardianship of Minors: What is in the Best Interests of the Children?” The Lawrences Letter, Winter 2012.
  • "The Use of Trusts in a Will”, Ontario Bar Association, September 2012.
  • "Estate Planning: The Difference Between a Will and an Estate Plan”, The Lawrences Letter, Spring 2012.
  • "Being an Executor can be Taxing”, The Lawrences Letter, Winter 2011.
  • "Estate Planning: Who Gets What?”, The Lawrences Letter, Fall 2010.
  • "Estate Planning for Blended Families” with Gosha Sekhon, Ontario Bar Association Estates and Trusts, Deadbeat Newsletter, March 2010.
  • "Death, Taxes, and Testamentary Trusts: How Estate Planning Can Help”, The Lawrences Letter, Spring 2008.
  • "A Matter of Trust: Joint Bank Accounts with Children”, The Lawrences Letter, Winter 2008.
May 13, 2015 | Presentation

Record Keeping and Accounting by Estate Trustees, Attorneys and Guardians of Property

Estate Trustees are fiduciaries and must act in the best interests of the beneficiaries of the estate. Estate Trustees have a common law duty to maintain accounts of what they have done with the trust property. 

The Trustee is obliged to provide a complete set of accounts, a true and perfect accounting at all times. 

While the formal rule is that Estate Trustees have a duty to constantly be ready to account, in practice, it is not always practical to produce accounts on the spot. Timing of the delivery will depend on the circumstances and should be governed by common sense. Although Estate Trustees are usually given one year to administer an estate of average complexity, an Estate Trustee would be wise to be ready to account before the “executor year” expires. 

Strictly speaking, an Estate Trustee does not have to account without being asked to do so or being ordered to do so by the court. In the vast majority of cases, the Estate Trustee will voluntarily account to the beneficiaries as part of the process to complete the administration of the estate. An estate is said not to be complete until the beneficiaries or the courts have approved the administration of the estate. Beneficiaries will not approve the administration without first reviewing the accounting. An Estate Trustee should not distribute the estate without getting some assurance that the beneficiaries are satisfied with the administration and will not be making claims against the Estate Trustee in the future.

 

Dec 17, 2014 | Presentation

Family Law Considerations in an Estate Plan

Estate planning involves the transfer of wealth to family, friends and charity in an efficient and effective manner. In many cases, the efficiency goal requires a review of various tax minimization, tax avoidance or tax deferral strategies. Indeed, tax considerations are an integral and important part of any estate plan.

For an estate plan to be effective, it is also important to have an understanding of the client’s goals and priorities and to advance them within the relevant legal framework. A wide variety of legal considerations need to be taken into account in every case. It is beyond the scope of this paper to address all such considerations.

This paper is focussed on family law considerations and how family law rules impact how an estate is allocated and structured. While family law rules can result in claims being made against an estate, family law can also be used to protect assets. The extent to which specific family law rules will apply will often depend on the marital status of the client and his or her beneficiaries as well as the location, nature and extent of assets owned by the client and where the client and the beneficiaries reside. 

Failure to collect all of the relevant information and to understand and deal with family law rules will likely lead to unintended consequences, costly litigation and delays in the administration of an estate and disappointed beneficiaries.

The summary of family law considerations in this paper is for individuals who reside in Ontario. Individuals who have a multi-jurisdiction estate or non-resident beneficiaries also need to address the relevant legal considerations in other relevant jurisdictions. Since this paper is being presented to non-lawyers, the paper does not exhaustively cover all legal considerations. The goal of this paper is to raise general awareness. This summary is provided for information and education purposes only. You should not rely on this summary as legal advice. Specific advice should be sought in each case.

Apr 22, 2014 | Presentation

Planning and Administration of Henson Trusts: Some Practice Tips

It is now common practice for parents with disabled children to incorporate a Henson trust in their estate plan.

In most cases, the share of the estate allocated for the disabled beneficiary is directed to be held by a trustee in a fully discretionary trust during the disabled child’s lifetime. The trust is typically created in the parent’s Will. The trustee is given discretion to pay income or capital to the child and income that is not allocated to the child is typically directed to be accumulated in the trust, subject to the provisions of the Accumulations Act that require trust income to be distributed after twenty-one years.

The disabled child’s share of the estate is set aside in such a trust, both for the purpose of preserving the beneficiary’s entitlement to government benefits and to avoid the need to appoint a guardian of property to manage the disabled family member’s interest in the estate.

When drafting Henson trusts, it is important to have an understanding of the Ontario Disability Support Program (“ODSP”) rules and exemptions.

We will first provide an overview of the ODSP plan and conclude with some Will planning and estate administration tips.

Apr 01, 2014 | Article

Transitioning the Family Farm

Jim Smith, a widower, has operated a farming business since he bought his farm property in 1975 for $200,000. He has three adult sons who help him with the farming operation; one or more of them may wish to continue a farming operation in the future. In his Will, Jim has named his three sons as equal beneficiaries of his estate. The current value of the property is about $4.2 million. Some developers have approached him about selling the farm. He does not know what he should do.

Dec 01, 2012 | Article

Guardianship of Minors: What is in the Best Interests of the Children?

Sue and Dave have one child of their marriage, a 10-year-old son named Jack. Dave’s aunt died recently, naming Jack as sole beneficiary of a $20,000 insurance policy. Sue and Dave have wills, in which Sue’s sister Mary is named as guardian for Jack, should Sue and Dave die before Jack reaches age 18. They want to know if Mary as guardian would have the authority to manage Jack’s assets, including the $20,000 insurance policy.

Sep 27, 2012 | Presentation

The Uses of Trusts in a Will

A properly drafted Will is usually the cornerstone of a good estate plan. A good estate plan will address a wide variety of planning considerations including whether a beneficiary should receive his or her interest in the estate by outright gift or whether the gift should be left in trust.

Apr 01, 2012 | Article

Estate Planning Part 1: The Difference Between a Will and an Estate Plan

Murray and Sara own a house, which is registered in both their names as joint tenants, and a condo in Florida, which is held in the name of Murray’s company. One of their children works in the company; the other lives overseas. When Murray consults his financial advisor about retirement, the advisor talks about the need for an estate plan. Murray is surprised: he thought all he needed was a Will.

Dec 01, 2011 | Article

New Legislation Changes Probate Rules: Being an Executor can be Taxing

The executor of an estate has many duties. One of them is to ensure that debts and taxes are paid before the estate is distributed to the beneficiaries.
In Ontario, there are two main types of taxes on death: income tax and probate tax (which is formally known as ‘estate administration tax’). Although probate tax was tripled in 1992 from 0.5% to 1.5% of an estate’s value, the Ontario government has not seen a corresponding increase in taxes collected. In May, 2011, the Ontario government passed legislation giving the Ontario Minister of Revenue the power to audit and reassess an estate within four years of the tax being payable. This legislation is to take effect January 1, 2013.

Oct 01, 2010 | Article

Estate Planning: Blended Families: Who Gets What?

With the rise in divorce and remarriage, many family units involve children from prior relationships and multiple sets of parents. In many such families, the challenge is to make fair provision for the second spouse while also leaving something for the children of the prior relationship and/or the current relationship. The law imposes different obligations for the division of assets depending on whether the spouses are living common law or are legally married.

Dec 01, 2008 | Article

A Matter of Trust: Joint Bank Accounts With Children

What seems like a simple matter of access to a parent’s bank account can be more complex than most family members realize.

Apr 01, 2008 | Article

Death, Taxes and Testamentary Trusts: How Estate Planning Can Help

Losing a loved one is bad enough, but losing large chunks of an inheritance at the same time can feel like cruel and unusual punishment. A bereaved family can find probate fees or capital gains tax eating up a large part of their loved one’s estate.

“Mike Prsa is a true professional. He has provided many of my clients with excellent estate planning advice and services. He has an ability to translate complex concepts into practical advice that clients can easily relate to and understand how they can be applied to their own unique circumstances. He is a pleasure to work with.”

Tom Cooney
Assante Capital Management Ltd. & Member, Canadian Investor Protection Fund
Branch Manager, Senior Wealth Advisor,

© 2015 Lawrence, Lawrence, Stevenson LLP

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Telephone: 905.451.3040 Fax: 905.451.5058 Email: lls@lawrences.com

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