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?

According to a survey (located under Other News Archive) released by Lawyers’ Professional Indemnity Co. (LawPRO), a majority of Canadian adults (56 per cent) do not have a signed Will. The survey also reveals that 71 per cent of Canadian adults do not have a signed Power of Attorney.

The study found 88 per cent of Canadians polled between the ages of 27 and 34 do not have a Will and their most common reason for not having one is because they believe they are too young (21 per cent). Results also indicate that 29 per cent of Canadian adults do not have a Will because they either do not know how to get started or believe they cannot afford one.

So what is the definition of an estate?

An Estate is:

  • Property or possessions
  • The legal position or status of an owner, considered with respect to property owned in land or other things
  • The degree or quantity of interest that a person has in land with respect to the nature of the right, its duration, or its relation to the rights of others
  • Interest, ownership, or property in land or other things
  • The property of a deceased person

A Legacy is:

  • A gift of property, especially personal property, such as money, by will; a bequest.
  • Anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.

With this in mind, potentially everyone has an Estate and what they document in their Will is their Legacy. You can make a Will at any time after the age of 18. As soon as you become financially independent of your parents, we encourage you to have an Estate Plan. More people tend to think of a Will and Power of Attorney at key milestones in their life including; marriage, the purchase of home, having children, re-marriage, becoming self-employed, etc.

In their June 2010 edition, Canadian Lawyer magazine conducted a survey with the legal community across Canada to find out what lawyers are charging clients to prepare Wills and Powers of Attorney. The link to the digital edition of the magazine is here. (Please note you will need to be a scriber to access the full article).

In their 2010 edition the fees for Ontario were in the range of:

To do a simple Will from – $278 to $510
To do a complex Will from – $704 to $2,061
To do a Power of Attorney – from $108 to $219

So think about this… The average person could spend about $600 to have a Will and Power of Attorney completed that will save their families potentially thousands of dollars in taxes and legal fees, not to mention the stress of having to manage the issues that can and often do arise. Remember, death does not have an age or date in mind.

We’d love the opportunity to speak with you about your end-of-life plan. 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


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


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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5 Things That Will Impact the Future Valuation of Your New Business

bigstock-Monitoring-company-balance-dyn-26891951If you recall in last week’s blog, we began running a series of posts on Business Valuation. Continuing on this subject this week, we will talk about 5 things that will impact the future valuation of your new business.

You have worked hard, you have built a wonderful successful business, and now you are ready to sell it and use it as a foundation for your retirement.  You feel your business is worth $1,000,000.00 based on your sales and projected earnings that you would make if you were to continue running the business.  You take your documents to a valuation expert and they come back and inform you that the business is worth only $250,000.00  How did this happen and why is the business valued so low in comparison to what you thought it should be?

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3 Important Things to Include in Your End-of-Business Plan

17323643_sIt is important for all business owners to have legal operating documents in place, including an End-of-Business plan that addresses what happens to the business if the owner can no longer run it. It should cover what happens if you retire, die, are disabled, or otherwise can’t operate your business. Below are 3 things to include in your End-of-Business plan and why they are important. Continue reading

3 Big Estate Planning Mistakes

bigstock-Couple-On-Bench-3635052Recently I have spoken to a number of people about their end-of-life planning. A few have said “what do I care? I’ll be gone and the estate can pay for everything”, and others want to leave everything organized and not be a burden after their demise.  While I commend those that want to make the job of the Trustee as convenient as possible I still see areas that are overlooked when it comes to planning the estate.  The following are 3 big estate planning mistakes we should all be aware of.

1)    Where’s the Will? Continue reading