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.

Here are the 6 reasons why she had a difficult time finding a professional to take on her case:

1. The Estate bank account was opened in 1997 and cheques were still being issued in 2014 from that account.
2. Three of the five designated beneficiaries were paid immediately from the proceeds of the house; before probate or personal taxes.
3. There was no valuation of the house at the time, or close to date of death. The house wasn’t sold for almost a year later.
4. One of the beneficiaries had a disability which caused my client to pay bills on his behalf then reimbursed herself for those expenses from his designated proceeds. But that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that she didn’t keep the receipts for those payments, and they were all in rounded amounts i.e., $40, $100, $300…
5. Since one of the beneficiaries was a minor at the time (the one whose lawyer brought this case in front of the court), a Trust account was established. But, some of the Estate expenses were being paid by the Trust.
6. The client was taking compensation from the Estate before the determination of compensation was established.

It is a huge responsibility to be an Executor/Trustee. And if you don’t know what you’re doing where record keeping is concerned, you need to speak to a professional on setting up a system for you, or handling the documentation on your behalf. You don’t want to be in front of the courts as it could end up costing you more than what you received as a beneficiary.

We welcome your feedback. You can connect with us via email or telephone, leave a comment right here on the site or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website.

Until next time,

The Team at OPEBE

 

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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Understanding Bereavement

bigstock-Emotional-Grief-40831069

I’ve been a longtime volunteer for Doane House Hospice. During that time I’ve participated in many of the positions required to support a not-for-profit organization.  I first started by taking the Palliative Care courses then became a visiting volunteer, Board Member, Treasurer, chaired the Oasis Day Programme and participated on the fundraising committee. One of the services they offer is the Bereavement Programme. For a number of years I’ve wanted to be part of this valuable arm of the organization but my schedule and the training schedule never seemed to coincide, until just recently. A couple of weeks ago I participated in the Bereavement Facilitator Training course.

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5 Facts regarding the Canada Pension Plan Death Benefit

Death BenefitsWhen you’re responsible for handling the estate paperwork of someone who has recently died there is a lot to be aware of, and do, no matter the size of the estate.  Here are 5 facts regarding the Canada Pension Plan Death Benefit (Death Benefit) and how best to proceed. These comments are not taking into consideration if the deceased contributed to the Quebec Pension Plan.

1)    If there is a will, the Executer named in the will to administer the estate must apply for the Death Benefit within 60 days of the date of death.  If there is no will or the Executor did not did not apply within 60 days of the date of death, one of the following persons should apply;

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No Will, No Way

21427529_sLast week I spoke to a friend whose father had suddenly and tragically died a few days earlier.  It’s sad on so many levels but in this case he had a complete physical, with no indication his health was compromised, one week prior to having a massive heart attack and dying within minutes. After a tearful conversation it really struck me that with No Will there is No Way the healing process for her and her family will begin and end quickly.  His passing is almost a guideline as to what should not happen if you leave loved ones behind.

1)    His last will was prepared while he was still married, 20 years ago.  The divorce was finalized 12 years ago but as it stands his ex-wife will receive the house and is also the beneficiary to his company life insurance plan. It appears the lawyer that handled the divorce did not suggest that a new will be prepared or guide him on other areas to consider after a major life change.  Based on other family members and friends that have used the same lawyer this is not something she has suggested to them in the past either.

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