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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 This means the past legal principle that a marriage revoked a Will, is no longer in effect.


  1. 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. 

Non-Resident Clients: Fees and What You Need to Know

We Specialize in Non-Resident Purchases and Sales!

Why choose us to handle your Canadian real estate transaction? Simply put, because we’re experts at it and have the contacts to make this cross border transaction a breeze. At DH we have extensive knowledge of both sides of a Non-Resident transaction. We make the process as simple and efficient as possible for our out-of-town clients, and with our vast knowledge and expertise we can answer almost any question you may have.

Below is a breakdown of our fees and an estimate of disbursements that you can expect to pay whether you are purchasing or selling. Our fees are very competitive in Northern Ontario and we expect you will agree. Fees are listed in Canadian dollars.

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.


Non Resident Sales – Fees and Questions

Our fee for the sale: $1,500 plus HST

Disbursements on the sale: $300 – $400 plus HST.

The disposition of Canadian property by a Non-Resident vendor attracts capital gains tax and requires that Non-Resident’s file a capital gains return with our Canadian taxing authority, the Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”). Because of this we must hold-back 25% of the sale proceeds in order to satisfy your tax obligations with the CRA.
Once the appropriate amount of tax has been paid, the CRA will issue a Certificate of Compliance or “Clearance Certificate” acknowledging that you have paid the applicable tax.  When this certificate is received from the CRA, a capital gains tax return must be filed once the forms become available in February of the following year. If you made capital improvements to the property while you owned it you may be able to receive a portion of the tax paid returned to you.

We understand that this process sounds complicated and lengthy, however, not to worry we know how to complete this as timely as possible and have an accountant on hand who specializes in these filings. The cost for us undertaking to complete all of the above, including paying the accountant, is below:

Our fee for completing all tax related documents and filings: $2,000 plus HST.

In total from start to finish you can expect to pay approximately, $3,800 – $4,000 plus HST. 


Non-Resident Purchases – Fees and Questions

Our fee for the purchase: $1,500 plus HST

Disbursements: $300 – $900 plus HST

The disbursements in a purchase fluctuate based on a variety of things including the location of the land/property and whether you purchase title insurance. If you have questions about title insurance, please contact our offices.

In total from start to finish you can expect to pay approximately $2,500 to $2,700 plus HST. 


Some FAQ’s: 

  1. If you are purchasing or selling in Canada, you need a Canadian lawyer, you can not use your lawyer from your home country.
  2. You must provide two pieces of photo identification.
  3. You do not need to be in Ontario for the closing. You can sign real estate documents where you live and email or fax them to our offices.
  4. You can purchase in US funds, however a notional conversion must be done for the Deed.

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.

Plans for Better Mediation

Set aside emotions as much as possible

Most people going through divorce, business dissolution, or other personal event feel a wide range of emotions including anger, sadness, and resentment. This is natural, but it’s important to realize that those emotions can affect how your legal agreement ends. Not only can it lead to even more hurt feelings, you could be facing a hefty court bill at the end if you let your emotions get the best of you.

Mediation is a way to help you come to a resolution DESPITE your emotions. We are that objective third-party observer who can look past emotionally charged situations to find a solution that makes sense for everyone.

Look to the future, not to the past

Again, it comes down to emotions. Focusing on what was can bring feelings of sadness and resentment to the surface. Looking to the future and concentrating how things can get better will improve your outlook and make the mediation process easier for you.

Come in with an open mind

Many people give up something they don’t want to. It’s unfortunate, but often it’s part of the give and take of any dispute resolution, whether you’re giving it up voluntarily in mediation or having it taken away from you in court.

It makes it easier to remember that most things are replaceable, either right now or sometime in the future. When it comes to possessions such as cars and furniture, consider how important those items really are to you compared to the cost and stress of trying to win them in court.

Plan for a whole day of mediation, though it may take longer

Mediation is usually faster than going to court, but it still takes time to come to an agreement on all the things in your lives. House, camp, vehicles, valuables, and investments all need to be looked at separately and as part of the bigger whole. Planning for what’s in the best interest of children can also be time consuming to ensure you get it right.

Keeping talking

No matter what the situation from divorce to sorting out the details of a family will to dissolving a business partnership, mediation always goes more smoothly when all parties keep talking to each other.

Carefully consider your mediator’s recommendations, even if you disagree at first

Your professional mediator is there for a reason. It’s helpful to listen and consider why the mediator is suggesting a particular course of action. The mediator’s role is to provide an objective viewpoint for all parties, keeping everyone’s best interests in mind. In many cases, his or her recommendations won’t be far off from a court decision – though it will be much less costly if you reach an agreement before that point.