Author: Deborah Humphreys
Changes To Estate Law: What You Need to Know
Ontario has amended its regulations under the Successional Law Reform Act to reflect the modern day experiences of individuals and challenges faced with living through a pandemic as well as changing long standing legal principles in estate planning.
The 3 biggest changes are:
- Remote Execution of Wills is now Possible: Under the previous law, all Wills must be executed and witnessed in person. However, dealing with the Covid pandemic has made in person meetings/signings extremely difficult or impossible in some cases. With this change the remote execution and witnessing of Wills in counterpart are now permitted on a permanent basis.
- Marriage no longer revokes a will: Further amendments were made which stop the consequences of a predatory marriage by repealing the clause which provides that a will or part of a will is revoked by marriage. This means the past legal principle that a marriage revoked a Will, is no longer in effect.
- Separated Spouses, not just Divorced Spouses, are disentitled under previous Wills: The Accelerating Access to Justice Act further amended the Successional Law Reform Act adding necessary modifications to the situation when the testator and his or her spouse are separated at the testator’ death. This means that if the spouses have entered into a valid separation agreement, arbitration agreement and have been living separate and apart for three years at the time of the testator’s death, that separated surviving spouse will no longer be entitled under the Will of the deceased (subject to limited exceptions)
Now may be the time to speak with Deborah and Renee about your Estate Planning documents, and what these changes mean for you.
(disclaimer this blog is not intended as legal advice)
Important Updates to the Preferential Share for Spouses
Ontario has amended its regulations under the Successional Law Reform Act to reflect a monumental change in the distribution of an intestate estate (when an individual dies without a will) for legally married spouses in Ontario.
Under the previous law, a spouse of an intestate would inherit what is called the “preferential share” from their legal spouses estate of the first $200,000.00. If the estate was worth equal to or less than the preferential share, the spouse would receive the entire estate.
However, under the new amendments, the spouse of an intestate will inherit a greater preferential share of their spouses estate if their spouse died after March 1, 2021. The previous preferential share of $200,000.00 is increased to $350,000.00 with the same rules of distribution – such as the first $350,000.00 to the spouse, and the remainder being divided amongst other beneficiaries.
Contact us at Humphreys Law to get a new will or update your current will as well as advice on all things real estate, estates and estate planning.
Wills Month at Humphreys Law
November is Will’s Month in Ontario and there’s never been a better time to come in and draft that Will you know you’ve been thinking about doing but haven’t quite gotten around to yet. With the COVID-19 pandemic, all of our lives have been changed and our mortality became even more present.
In light of the above, Deborah Humphreys Law Office is offering special rates for Will Packages – which includes Power of Attorney for Property, Power of Attorney for Personal Care and a Last Will and Testament. Discounted rates for couples as well. Please inquire with us via email or telephone to book an appointment!
Telephone: (807) 577-0806
An update to our clients about COVID-19
As you are well aware the COVID-19 virus is affecting our lives and how we work.
Our COVID-19 protocol consists of all the usual applications of anti-viral cleanliness, mandatory masks while in our offices, and also includes utilization of technology to limit direct contact with clients. Email, faxing and DocuSign are just a few of the electronic processes we will utilize whenever practicable. We are also monitoring new developments regarding COVID-19 closely and we follow best practices to ensure that our offices are a clean and safe environment for all, and we have been proactive in implementing additional measures focused on the safety of our people, clients, and guests, continuing to adapt as circumstances change. Our approach has been informed by the guidance of governmental agencies and public health officials.
If you are purchasing or selling property during this time, we will continue to close real estate transactions using our COVID-19 protocol and Stewart Title gap insurance if necessary.
Stewart Title gap insurance is coverage that insures both purchasers and lenders against losses due to intervening registrations on title between the date of closing and the date of registration. This means that in the event that online registration is no longer available, or land registry offices experience delays or closures due to COVID-19, transactions can close on time and funds and keys can be released to the respective parties.
We are a small law firm of 4 persons and therefore have already endeavoured to limit our contact with the community. However despite our size our strength is found in our skills and we will continue to provide our reliable experience and services to our community during this time.
The team at Deborah Humphreys Law Office
Purchasing or Selling Property for Canadians: Fees
The Real Estate Transaction Experts
Buying your first home, or selling your family camp can be a stressful time. We are here to help and provide you with our expertise and guidance to make this as easy as possible. Why choose us? Simply because we have years under our belt and know how to make this process as seamless as possible. In order to purchase or sell land in Canada you are required to have a lawyer, you cannot conduct a real estate transaction without a lawyer.
Below is a breakdown of our fees and disbursements in a purchase or sale in Ontario for Canadian residents. Our fees are very competitive in Northern Ontario and we expect you will agree.
Disclaimer, the actual cost of your transaction may vary based on a number of factors, and for an estimate based on your specific property please call our offices.
Canadian Resident Sale: Fees
Our fee for the sale: $950.00 plus HST
Disbursements: $300 – $400 plus HST
Total: $1,400 – $1,500 plus HST.
Canadian Resident Purchase: Fees
Our fee: $1,050 plus HST
Disbursements: $400 – $900 plus HST
Disbursements in purchases vary based on a number of factors. Included but not limited to is whether there is a mortgage on the property, if you require title insurance and title searches. If you have questions about any of these disbursements do not hesitate to contact our offices.
Total: $1,450 – $2,000 plus HST.
DH Law Participates in Golf Tournaments
This past July, the firm participated in both the Thunder Bay Law Association Golf Tournament and Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament. Although we did not place in the standings, we claimed the unofficial title of “Most Fun Team.” At DH we believe community engagement is important to a successful law practice, and we thoroughly look forward to next years tournaments!
Estate Planning – What is it and why is it so important?
What exactly is Estate Planning? Estate Planning generally consists of preparing a Last Will and Testament. This document permits you to choose your Executor, who is the person that will look after your funeral arrangements and administration of your estate assets. If you have a child/children, a Will allows you to nominate a specific person to have guardianship over the child/children if both you and your spouse have passed. A Will also allows you to choose who will receive your estate. Without a Will, the estate laws set out who is entitled to receive your estate.
Since Wills govern your estate only after death, your estate planning should also include Power of Attorney documents.
A Power of Attorney for Property will let you nominate someone to pay your bills, and look after your assets/money, if you are incapable of doing so yourself. Without a Power of Attorney for Property, your spouse, if you have one, will not have the authority to deal with your bank accounts or any assets in your name. Without a Power of Attorney for Property, an agency of the provincial government called the Public Guardian and Trustee can automatically step in to take over your assets and money. Your spouse or family will be left to deal with this agency to regain authority over your assets.
Your estate planning should also include a Power of Attorney Personal Care. This document allows you to nominate a specific person to deal with medical decisions, if you are incapable of doing so yourself.
Tax Planning must also be part of your estate planning discussion. This is to ensure that taxation at death can be minimized, including the Estate Administration Tax which is levied when you probate an estate.
Contact us to discuss/prepare your estate planning documents.