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Estate Planning

Depending on the circumstances, an estate plan can:

  • Reduce or minimize income tax payable after your death
  • Reduce or minimize probate tax
  • Ensure that the estate passes in an orderly manner to beneficiaries of your choice
  • Ensure that you have an efficient ownership structure for your assets
  • Ensure that your beneficiary designations are consistent with your plan and your will
  • Ensure that you have legal documents that are consistent with your goals and objectives
  • Appoint someone who will be in charge of your financial affairs or personal care in the event of incapacity
  • Appoint executors to manage your estate after your death
  • Provide for management of property for special needs or minor beneficiaries
  • Preserve government benefits for special needs or disabled family members
  • Ensure the estate is organized in a manner that will reduce risk of claims being made against your estate by creditors, former spouses or “dependants”
  • Provide family law protection for your beneficiaries
  • Minimize disruption to your business and help you plan for business succession
  • Provide for the appointment of a guardian for a minor child
Feb 03, 2014 | Case Study

Providing for Dependents in Blended Families

The Problem Our client has two adult children from his first marriage. He also has two more children with his second wife. When he married, he own...

Feb 03, 2014 | Case Study

Disabled Beneficiary

The Problem The father of a disabled, 30-year-old son died suddenly without leaving a Will. His estate is worth under $100,000. His son and his si...

Feb 03, 2014 | Case Study

Business owner

Our client incorporated his company 20 years ago with $50,000 of his own money and a bank loan. The business has grown substantially and his shares...

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.

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.

Apr 01, 2009 | Article

Estate Planning: Providing for the Special Needs Beneficiary

John Simpson has Down Syndrome. His parents, wanting to provide for him after their death, named John’s sister Doreen as Executor of their estate and earmarked a proportion of the estate for his care. Now Doreen is shocked to find that because John is inheriting from their parents’ estate, he is no longer entitled to the government benefits that she was counting on to pay his expenses.

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.

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