Estate Planning

No one wants to talk about it, but Estate Planning provides peace of mind to you and your loved ones.

Proper planning and appropriate wealth management is crucial for all Canadians, but especially business owners. It ensures that your legacy is protected, provides continuity to your business, and safeguards wealth for your family from the get-go in the way you want.

Wills

Your Will is the cornerstone of your Estate. It lets you focus on your life today, knowing you’ve planned for your loved ones after you’re gone. It appoints a trusted person or corporation to carry out the wishes you’ve set out for trusts, gifts of personal effects, charitable giving, and funeral arrangements.

We can help draft a Will that reflects your needs and wishes, or review existing documents and make amendments as necessary. Your Will should be reviewed when things in your life change (births, deaths, business, taxes!), so we will work alongside you as your needs evolve.

We also have experience with Corporate or Secondary Wills, Estate Freezes, Multi-jurisdictional Wills, Mutual Wills Contracts and other specialised estate planning tools.

End of Life Planning

Whether created during your lifetime by Trust Deed or written into a Will and triggered at death, Trusts are an important estate planning tool. Failure to plan can cause major issues for your family, your business partners, and your employees who depend on you to feed their families and pay their mortgages.

End of life planning involves a handful of steps that we can assist you with:

  • Coordinating with your financial planners, accountants, and advisors to efficiently plan for transition and taxes

  • Preparing Powers of Attorney for Property and for Personal Care (health and welfare)

  • Preparing and understanding Advance Directives (“Living Wills”) to assist your Personal Care Attorney in making medical decisions for you, including end-of-life decisions

Digital Legacy Issues

Digital assets have created a unique set of challenges for estate planning. Because these assets can consist of anything stored or accessible online (presence on social media, cryptocurrency, PayPal credit, and other non-monetary assets), it’s important to inform your family of these assets — and where to find them — as part of your estate plan.

In its simplest form, this can be a list of your passwords and accounts with instructions on what to do in the event of your death. At its most complex, it can require special legal planning.


Estate Administration

The shock of losing someone can be overwhelming and confusing; a convoluted estate doesn’t help. Whether the person left a Will or not, we can assist you through this process with compassion and legal expertise.

If you are an Executor, we want to help you understand your legal duties by providing professional advice at the outset. Not only does this protect you, it ensures your loved one’s final wishes are carried out as intended.

Administering an Estate is a big job, but you don’t have to do it alone.

Advice to Executors & Estate Trustees

Understanding your duties as the Executor of a Trust or Estate can be a difficult, confusing, and time consuming process.

We provide practical and compassionate advice on how to interpret Will and/or Trust documents, and assist with court advice or direction. As your counsel, we will be there for you if any problems arise in the course of administering the Estate or Trust.


Estate Litigation & Dispute Resolutions

Sometimes this doesn’t go as smoothly as intended. During this highly emotional time for family and friends, we support Executors and/or Beneficiaries with any Estate and Trust disputes, including challenging or defending:

Claims Against the Estate

In Ontario, a dependent (if named in the Will) can make a claim against the estate for monetary support beyond what’s listed in their inheritance, if they can prove that they had been receiving financial support before death. If a claim like this is successful, the estate pays this claim out before the rest of the estate is divided.

This can be a messy process. We can support you by seeking direction or advice from the court, and approval of the financial accounts of executors or your Power of Attorney for Property.

Guardianship and Power of Attorney

Accidents and unexpected events arise. If you, or someone you love becomes incapacitated but has not prepared a Power of Attorney for Property (POA), Guardianship must be awarded.

While this is often done by a judge through a court application, sometimes a person may be deemed incapable of acting in their best interest, and a Trustee from the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee is appointed until you apply to take over.

We can help you navigate the fee, forms, and management plans required for guardianship with compassion, and attention to detail, to ensure you feel confident in taking on this responsibility.

We can also assist you in understanding your duties as a Attorney for Property. These appointees are there to make decisions on your Property and Personal Care, should you be alive but incapable of doing so. Your Property POA is responsible for your bank accounts, home, taxes, etc., while a Personal Care POA makes decisions around your health and welfare, including end-of-life if needed.

Dependent’s Relief Claims

As an executor, you may be asked to carry out an order for support to a beneficiary of the estate. This may include:

  • Trusts for children under the age of majority

  • Henson Trusts for beneficiaries with special needs or disabilities

  • Spousal trusts to support a second spouse during his/her lifetime (with the capital reverting to the children of the first marriage after the death of the second spouse), or,

  • House and cottage trusts to control the asset over a longer period