Mediation a great option in estates disputes
The number of interested parties in estates matters makes mediation a great option for settling disputes, says Toronto estates litigator Alexander Turner.
Under the Rules of Civil Procedure, mediation is mandatory in contested estates, trusts and substitute decision cases commenced in Superior Courts in Toronto, Ottawa or the County of Essex, but Turner, an associate with Bales Beall LLP, says litigants in all corners of the province could benefit from the process.
“It is something that everyone should be aware of and consider. When you have a family fighting over an estate, there can be a number of claims that need to be sorted out at once. It’s likely that many people are going to get something, it’s just a question of how much,” Turner tells AdvocateDaily.com.
When family, estate law converge by Karon C. Bales
How a life insurance policy impacts an estate depends on a variety of factors, including family circumstances, Toronto estate and family lawyer Karon Bales tells AdvocateDaily.com.
Also playing a significant role is where an individual lives because every province deals with family relationships differently.
“There is an assumption it’s the same everywhere — that if you’ve been living together for a long time you have the same rights as married couples,” says Bales, a founding partner of the boutique Toronto firm Bales Beall LLP. “That’s certainly not so in Ontario or Quebec. It is, however, the case in British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan.”
Family trust property not always sheltered from spouse in a divorce by Kristine Anderson
Unless careful thought has gone into setting up a family trust, spouses who hold an interest in property through such a trust can not necessarily stop a partner from getting their share following a marriage breakdown, Toronto estate and civil litigator Kristine Anderson tells AdvocateDaily.com.
Anderson, a partner with Bales Beall LLP whose practice covers all aspects of litigation involving wills, estates, and guardianship matters, says people will often use trusts as a mechanism for keeping assets out of probate, transferring assets onto children and grandchildren or to shift tax liabilities.
Costs rulings show how public policy plays out in estate litigation by Alexander Turner
Although in estate litigation, the unsuccessful party is often responsible for the successful side's costs, there is an exception when public policy considerations are engaged — and several recent decisions show how these matters play out, Toronto estates litigator Alexander Turner writes in The Lawyer’s Daily.Read more here.
The weight of words in family law matters by Richard Diamond
Lawyers can help set a more positive tone for splitting couples going through a tough period simply through the language that they use, Toronto family lawyer Richard Diamond tells AdvocateDaily.com.
“In my practice, I favour the terms ‘parenting time’ and ‘parenting schedule’ rather than ‘access’,” says Diamond, an associate with Bales Beall LLP.
Bales offers concierge service to estate, family clients
Last time she checked, Toronto estate and family lawyer Karon Bales was the only Ontario lawyer certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as a specialist in both family law and wills and estate matters.
Unusual as it is, this combination of practice areas strikes her as a natural fit, Bales, a founding partner of the boutique Toronto firm Bales Beall LLP, tells AdvocateDaily.com.
“It’s a seamless approach,” she says, especially as many concepts of the Family Law Act apply to inheritance and vice versa. “To me, it seems obvious that the two areas are related.”
Appeal court's life insurance decision strengthens support security by Alexander Turner
Family lawyers can breathe easy after an appeal court decision limited when life insurance proceeds can be counted towards the value of an estate, says Toronto estates litigator Alexander Turner.
The deceased in the appeal court case separated from his wife in 2012 and took out a court-ordered life insurance policy that named his ex-wife as beneficiary in order to secure his future child and spousal support obligations.
Turner, an associate at Toronto firm Bales Beall LLP, says this kind of arrangement is employed routinely by family lawyers as a mechanism to protect their clients in case the support payors should die before their obligations are met.
Podcast tackles risks of will exclusions by Kristine Anderson.
Testators who plan to leave a child or spouse out of their will should discuss their intentions with the rest of their family, says Toronto estate and civil litigator Kristine Anderson.
Speaking on the Estate Planning Project podcast, produced by the charity Caregiving Matters, Anderson explained that people have responsibilities to certain members of their family, even after death. And cutting them out of the will could cause upheaval if the aggrieved party chooses to go to court to enforce their rights.
“It is something to think about when you are doing your estate planning: who’s going to be left to deal with these issues when you pass away,” said Anderson a partner with Bales Beall LLP whose practice covers all aspects of litigation involving wills, estates, and guardianship matters.
Ruling shows flexibility in section of Limitations Act by Alexander Turner
One of the first decisions to deal with the issue of limitations periods when it comes to an application brought under the Succession Law Reform Act (SLRA) on behalf of a disabled person shows a willingness by the courts to be flexible in such matters, Toronto estates litigator Alexander Turner tells Law Times.
The Ontario Superior Court decision, reports Law Times, found that a disabled woman’s application against the executor of her deceased common-law spouse’s estate was not statute barred, as a six-month limitations period did not come into effect until after a litigation guardian was appointed.
Hidden issues arising out of second and third marriages and also divorce - Kristine J. Anderson on Caregiving Matters' Podcast
Have you ever thought of what second and third marriages and also divorce can do to an estate plan? These are important life developments that need to be included in estate plans. To help us better understand these issues, Kristine J. Anderson who is a partner with the law firm of Bales Beall LLP, based in Toronto, Ontario speaks to some of the issues surrounding this topic.Read more here.
Ensure beneficiary designations are properly done by Jessica Feldman
When planning your estate, give serious consideration to beneficiary designations, says Toronto trust and estate lawyer Jessica Feldman.
“Properly naming beneficiaries can reduce fees and delays,” says Feldman, a senior associate with Bales Beall LLP.
Beneficiaries can be named on policies and plans such as life insurance, RRSPs, RRIFs (Registered Retirement Income Fund), and TFSAs (Tax-Free Savings Account) and those funds can pass directly to a beneficiary without going through probate.
“For married people, naming a spouse as the beneficiary of an RRSP or an RRIF is the most tax-efficient way to pass on that money,” says Feldman. “The proceeds of the plan are paid directly to that individual. They’re not considered an estate asset, meaning the estate doesn’t pay estate administration taxes on the value of the plan. That’s why designating beneficiaries is very attractive.”
Including children conceived posthumously in SLRA raises questions by Kristine Anderson
Recent legislative changes that include children conceived posthumously in the definition of ‘child,’ — allowing them to claim financial support from the deceased parent’s estate — raise a number of questions, including timing of the distribution of an estate, Toronto estate and civil litigator Kristine Anderson writes in The Lawyer’s Daily.
As Anderson explains, Ontario has expanded the definition of “child” in several pieces of legislation including the provisions of the Succession Law Reform Act (SLRA) that deal with applications for dependant’s relief.
The pitfalls of pre-death transfers to estate beneficiaries by Alexander Turner
In estate administrations, it is not uncommon for beneficiaries to receive substantial amounts of money, or property, from the deceased before death. This is particularly the case when the deceased is the sole surviving parent and there are several children who are beneficiaries.
This can take the form of gifts, loans, or in certain cases, a trust. It is important for the estate trustee to identify and categorize the effect of each of these property transfers when conducting the estate administration. Below, I highlight some common pitfalls with each:
Uncertainty in dependant relief applications by Kristine Anderson
Diligent estate planners should counsel clients on the potential hazards of not properly providing for a spouse or dependents in their estate plans and wills, says Toronto estate and civil litigator Kristine Anderson.
Without adequate planning, the client's estate may become vulnerable to a claim for support by a spouse, dependent child or dependent sibling, and such litigation can be time-consuming, divisive and expensive, she tells AdvocateDaily.com.
The challenge, however, is it’s becoming harder to provide clients with certainty when advising them as to how their previous marriages and obligations might intersect with their current ones, Anderson points out.
Caring for Fido and other family pets in estate plans by Jessica Feldman
Pets are a much-beloved part of many families so it’s not surprising more people are making provisions for them in their estate plans, says Toronto trust and estate lawyer Jessica Feldman.
She tells AdvocateDaily.com that the subject of how pets will be cared for comes up in client conversations about new wills or changes to existing estate plans often these days.
“It’s very common now. I frequently come across individuals who are worried about where their pets will land after their death. People see their animals as members of the family.”
But under Canadian law pets are considered property, and like money or a piece of jewelry, they can’t inherit their owner’s assets, but they can still be provided for in meaningful ways, Feldman says.
Law commission recommends POA education by Alexander Turner
TORONTO - The Law Commission of Ontario is calling for broad changes to systems dealing with powers of attorney in the province
The commission issued a report on Wednesday laying out 58 recommendations aimed at the Ontario government, the province's various professional colleges and even the court system.
Executive Director Nye Thomas says most Ontarians are not clear about their legal obligations when they sign a power of attorney and become a substitute decision-maker for someone who is incapacitated.
He says some of the report's recommendations are calling for greater education on what a power of attorney entails, as well as extra safeguards to make sure they aren't being misused.
Toronto estates litigator Alexander Turner tells AdvocateDaily.com that he welcomes any attempt to increase prospective attorneys' awareness of what they're letting themselves in for.
Finding 'best path forward' a model for client service by Kristine Anderson
Estate litigation is a frightening and novel experience for most people, and lawyers should provide practical advice that’s tailored to individual needs, says Toronto estate and civil litigator Kristine Anderson.Read more here.
Ignorance of misconduct no excuse for co-trustees: OCA by Alexander Turner
A recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision shows ignorance is no excuse for executors who fail to notice misconduct by their co-trustees, says Toronto estates litigator Alexander Turner.Read more here.
Trustees can't always rely on the estate to pick up their legal tab by Alexander Turner
A series of recent cases should serve as a reminder to estate trustees that they could end up personally on the hook for litigation costs, says Toronto estates litigator Alexander Turner.Read more here.
Grieving the loss of a marriage is often amplified during the holidays by Richard Diamond
The holiday season can be a difficult time for recently separated spouses, as they navigate new arrangements with their children and deal with the often amplified emotions of divorce, says Toronto family lawyer Richard Diamond.Read more here.
Can a woman bequeath her frozen eggs? by Jessica Feldman
The Ontario government’s All Families are Equal Act will resolve some legal questions in cases involving frozen reproductive material, but with reproductive technology still in its infancy, estate planners will be charting new territory for years to come, says Toronto trust and estate lawyer Jessica Feldman.Read more here.
Children 'wrongly retained' according to Hague Convention: Diamond
TORONTO — Two Canadian children at the centre of a protracted custody dispute must return to their father in Germany over their objections and against the wishes of their mother, Ontario's top court ruled Tuesday.Read more here.
Transparency, communication key for power of attorney role by Alexander Turner
How someone acting as a power of attorney for an estate communicates and reports to the other interested parties goes a long way in avoiding court action, says Toronto estate litigator Alexander Turner.Read more here.
Feldman to chair event on intersection of fertility, estates law by Jessica Feldman
Toronto trust and estate lawyer Jessica Feldman is chairing an upcoming program which will explore the issues estate lawyers should consider when advising clients in cases that involve frozen human reproductive material.Read more here.
Strongly consider written agreement when executing mutual will by Alexander Turner
Toronto estate litigator Alexander Turner says a recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision illustrates an interesting example of the application of the mutual wills doctrine.Read more here.
Dealing with business assets, liabilities in your estate plan by Kristine Anderson
In part one of this series, I explored what happens to your sole proprietorship when you die, provided information on the pitfalls of dying without a valid will in place, and explained the importance of appointing an estate trustee. In part two, I will tackle how to deal with specific business assets and liabilities in your corporate estate planning.
What happens to my business when I die? by Kristine Anderson
Starting and running your own business as a sole proprietor may be more common today but that doesn't mean it’s easy — it takes large amounts of time, energy, focus and vision.
The importance of estate planning for young families by Jessica Feldman
Young families may think estate planning is too expensive or that it’s not a priority, but there are several considerations to take into account, says Toronto trust and estate lawyer Jessica Feldman.Read more here.
Alexander Turner finds fair solutions to estate issues by Alexander Turner
Alexander Turner thrives on helping people find fair and practical resolutions to estate legal issues.
The Toronto litigator advises and represents clients seeking solutions to problems and disputes involving wills, guardianships and powers of attorney.