Executor/Trustee Responsibilities – Continuing my Journey with Myrtle

estate executor OntarioIn my last blog post, I introduced my client Myrtle. My responsibility of Executor/Trustee for Myrtle’s estate was only a part of my relationship with this wonderful woman. My journey with her developed from our first conversation in 2008 and even in her 91st year I knew she was a lady that continued to be very aware of politics, what was going on in her community and how to stretch a dollar.  She made sure she read the weekly flyers to see what was on special for that week and was frustrated that the sales at Shoppers Drug Mart didn’t start until Saturday when all the others started on Friday.  She walked or took the bus everywhere she wanted to go.  She thought taxis were too expensive no matter how bad the weather was.

She and her husband Jack (a Pharmacist, deceased in 1993) bought their house in 1951.  This is the same house she lived in until she personally sold it in June of 2014 to a contractor.  Myrtle told me long before she sold the house that she wanted to sell it to a contractor that would tear it down and do a complete rebuild.  I assumed that the house she had lived in for 63 years had such sentimental value that she couldn’t bear to have others live there.  After she proudly told me she sold the house to a contractor, I asked her why she went that route instead of a real estate agent.  Her direct answer was that she didn’t want people snooping around to see how she lived and what she had.  And, she didn’t want to be inconvenienced by people showing up at all hours of the day.  She got what she wanted in both the sale price and maintained her privacy.  Once the house was sold she immediately moved to a retirement home.

In the position of Executor/Trustee (ET) one of the first responsibilities is to secure the premises of the deceased.  The day after Myrtle passed away I went to her apartment in the retirement home to ensure any important documents or valuables were safe.  Once I arrived at the building my first encounter was with a member of the administration staff.  I needed a key to enter her premises.  The young lady asked me if I had tried her door since it might be unlocked.  I asked her why it would be unlocked.  Her response was that they were not responsible for securing the premises after someone passed away, or ever actually.  They didn’t want to get caught in the middle of family disputes, or if arrangements had been made for other individuals or businesses to pick-up or deliver furniture or equipment.  I told her I knew her god-daughter should have been the last person to have access to the apartment and she would have ensured it was locked.

The administrative lady said she would have housekeeping meet me at the apartment and they would let me in.  I asked her if she wanted any proof of identification.  She hemmed and hawed so I pulled out my paperwork which she reluctantly photocopied.  I then proceeded to Myrtle’s apartment.  Once housekeeping arrived to let me in, I was gathering up Myrtle’s jewelry and documentation when I heard a knock on the door.  The head of building maintenance was there with a contractor to see what work needed to be done. He said he didn’t think anyone would be in the unit and that he would come back.  I told him he could do what he was there for. Let me point out that Myrtle’s apartment was hers and I had 30 days to remove everything.  They said they would only be a few minutes as they wanted to see if carpet needed to be replaced and if any painting was required.  Myrtle’s body hadn’t even been released from the morgue yet! I became even more concerned for her valuables and memories and left with a box containing more items then I intended on that visit.

This retirement home is a brand that is known nationwide.  The building is beautiful and the staff dealing directly with the residents is kind, patient and helpful. I never expected that I would have security issues with Myrtle’s personal residence. She would have been outraged at the invasion of her privacy.

There is no expectation of privacy in a nursing home, but have you, or someone you know, had an experience like this with a retirement home? I welcome your feedback.  I would appreciate hearing the stories and making others aware of what they may need to know and do to respect the wishes entrusted to them. You can connect with me via email or telephone, leave a comment here on the site, or click the contact tab at the bottom of the page if you are reading this post on the website.

Until next time,

Maureen

Personal Estate Executor Decisions – My Journey with Myrtle

personal estate executor Ontario

My journey first started with Myrtle in the late spring of 2008. Myrtle had asked her financial planner to take a look at her 2007 tax return. She couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t getting a larger refund. She always got a refund. And since she made quarterly tax installments she knew something wasn’t right. The financial planner told Myrtle he took his client’s tax returns to a professional and thought it would be a good idea if she took a look at it to see if there was an error. That someone was me.

Myrtle had done her tax returns herself every year. She typed her copy and the CRA copy – no photocopier or carbon paper was used. She was old school and when I say “old school”, Myrtle was in her 90th year of life. I took a look at her return, compared it to the Notice of Assessment she had received from the CRA and all the numbers were exact. I then went through all her paperwork which was extensive, and determined where the error was. She had forgotten to include her generous donations in her calculations that year. Continue reading

What is a Non-Continuing Power of Attorney?

Non Continuing Power of AttorneyThis is the time of year when many of my business customers give me what is called a  Non-Continuing Power of Attorney. These are smart business people that realize they may be delayed in returning to their businesses when on vacation or at conferences. While either the long or short delay on returning could be attributed to bad weather or health issues, they still have a business that needs to operate at the effectiveness and efficiency as if they were there. So what is a Non-Continuing Power of Attorney? Continue reading

Passing of Accounts – Be Careful How You Conduct Yourself

estate executor and trustee responsibilitiesAccording to duhaime.org, the Passing of Accounts legal definition is; The formal presentation of a trustee’s accounts to a court for approval. Recently a long-time bookkeeping client came to me with a problem. Her father had named her in his Will to be his Executor/Trustee. There were 5 beneficiaries, including my client. The reason she needed the Estate records brought up to date is due to a court order requesting the Passing of Accounts. One of the beneficiaries was questioning how the funds were handled and disbursed. The key message in this blog post – Be careful how you conduct yourself.

A couple of lawyers she approached to represent her in this court procedure refused, based on the state her documentation was in. It wasn’t until she indicated to a potential attorney that a professional (me) was pulling all the information together, that she located someone to defend the accusations made against her. Continue reading

Give the Gift of Safeguarding Your Legacy – 7 Things to Consider

estate and personal executors OntarioOne of the last things on the minds of anyone at this time of year is Wills and Powers of Attorney. The Holiday rush has begun and with all of the planning and events in the works, who wants to think about ticking off items on an estate planning checklist? Not many people do, but there are a few bare-bone estate planning basics that everyone could benefit from that are especially important for singles and new families that can give the gift of safeguarding your legacy. Specifically, what can you do to prepare an estate plan? Here are 7 things to consider. Continue reading

Difference Between Estate Administrative Tax (EAT) and Estate Income Tax

estate executors OntarioIn Ontario there are two defined forms of Estate Tax, one is called the Estate Administration Tax (probate) and of course, the final Estate Income Tax. Good news is, once these taxes are paid and the beneficiaries receive their gifts, they do not get taxed.

When someone passes away, in addition to regular income tax, they may or may not have to pay tax on what they owned. The final return is how the Estate Trustee finds out if the deceased owes any income tax. Like all other debts, income tax has to be paid by the estate first, before people can inherit; that is called “settling the estate”. The notice of assessment for the deceased tax return is one of the documents the Estate Trustee needs in order to get a clearance certificate and distribute property from the estate. Continue reading

You Don’t Have to be Richard Branson to Have an Estate

estate planning NewmarketDid you know that you have an Estate even though you are not someone as famous as Richard Branson? Talking to our clients, we are always surprised when folks say; “oh I just have my house and a few odds and ends. I’m not rich – I don’t have an Estate and it costs too much to put a Will in place.” Did you know that the Government views anything over $1,000 as part of your estate and subject to the Estate Administrative Tax?

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What is a Power of Attorney?

Power of AttorneyAccording to the Attorney General, a Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the right to act on your behalf.

Last week I was interviewed for possibly being designated as a Power of Attorney for Property and Power of Attorney for Personal Care for an individual.  While the interviewer, let’s call her Cindy, was asking intelligent questions and accessing my knowledge, skill set and personality, I was also forming the questions I needed to ask her.  It is no longer merely ‘an honour’ or an easy task to take on the massive responsibilities now associated with these positions. Continue reading

4 Great Reasons to Get Jewellery Appraised

estate jewelleryWhen you’ve been appointed an executor, one of the many challenges you’ll face is establishing the value of the estate for probate purposes.  Often jewellery has a significant emotional and financial impact resulting in how potential beneficiaries view its value.  I don’t believe sentimental value can have a dollar sign attached to it so a professional appraisal needs to be done. So to protect the interests of the estate, executor and beneficiaries, I’ve asked Christine Driussi to help guide you on the various aspects of appraisals and their benefits. Below are 4 great reasons to get your jewellery appraised.

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Death and Your Social Media/Online Presence

social media deathHaving Power of Attorney (POA) and being an Executor for a number of clients, the topic of Social Media and ones online presence is always brought into the conversation by me.  When discussing death and who gets the cottage or the dog, how to inform friends, family, customers and vendors who know you and keep in touch electronically is constantly being overlooked.

This is even more critical if your online presence is e-commerce supplying products, services and subscriptions.  Who do you trust to leave all the access information and passwords to? Death does not have to be the only reason to stop and consider this. If you become incapacitated, who can continue to sell and inform on your behalf? And what do you want your final Facebook or Twitter posting to be – “just heading to the hospital, hope to be out before the hockey game starts”? How do you want your legacy to read?

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