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Our brother, our hero

Our brother, our hero

Our brother, Robert, was the oldest of three boys in our family. When he passed away, it felt like we had lost a leg of our tripod, a corner of our triangle. Committed to his family and friends, Robert was always willing to offer extra support during difficult times—like when his own family was touched by dementia.

After witnessing the heartbreaking effects of the disease, Robert decided to leave a generous gift to the Alzheimer Society of Canada in his will. We’re so proud of his amazing legacy, and we know it will make a real difference in others’ lives.

– Ronald D.


To learn more about leaving a gift to the Alzheimer Society in your will, visit alzheimer.ca/giftinyourwill or call Dana Lecours at 1-800-616-8816 ext. 2951 (toll-free) or 416-847-2951.


Notre frère, notre héros

Notre frère, notre héros

Nous étions trois frères et Robert était notre ainé. Lorsqu’il a rendu l’âme, nous avons eu l’impression de perdre une partie essentielle de nous même. Dévoué à sa famille et à ses amis, Robert était toujours prêt à redoubler d’efforts pour offrir son soutien dans les moments difficiles, comme lorsque sa propre famille a été frappée par une maladie cognitive.

Témoin des répercussions déchirantes de ce type de maladie, Robert a décidé de laisser un don généreux à la Société Alzheimer du Canada dans son testament. Cet héritage formidable contribuera à améliorer la qualité de vie de nombreuses autres personnes et nous en sommes très fiers.

– Ronald D.


Pour en savoir plus sur la démarche à suivre pour faire un don testamentaire à la Société Alzheimer, nous vous invitons à visiter alzheimer.ca/dontestamentaire ou à appeler M. Raul Rios au 1 800 616-8816 poste 2974 (sans frais) ou au 416 847-2974.

7 important reasons to make a will right now (and what happens if you die without one)

7 important reasons to make a will right now (and what happens if you die without one)

Planning for the future is important for everyone, but it’s especially important if you or someone you care about has dementia. That’s why we’ve partnered with RBC Wealth Management Estate & Trust Services to bring you a series of informative blogs about estate planning. In this blog, Elaine Blades, Senior Manager, Professional Practice Group, RBC Estate & Trust Services, explains why it’s so important for everyone to have a will, and what you risk by not having one.


Elaine Blades

By Elaine Blades, Senior Manager, Professional Practice Group, RBC Estate & Trust Services

More than 50% of Canadians don’t have a will. Chances are, you or someone you care about is one of them. Nobody wants to think about death. But I challenge you to take a moment to consider what you might be risking without a will.

Here are 7 reasons why you need a will:

1) Ensure your wishes are known—and respected

There is a misconception that if you don’t have a will, everything will magically go to your spouse or your children because the law says so. That’s not necessarily the case.

When you die without a will, you are said to have died intestate in the eyes of the law. That means that your estate will be distributed in a standardized way according to the law in your province. These rules—which dictate who gets what, and how much—are non-negotiable.

Everyone’s situation is unique, and it’s likely that your wishes won’t match up with the arbitrary formula used by your provincial government. What do I mean? Suppose you have two children and one of them has special needs. Or, say you lent one of your children money over the course of their lifetime. In each case, an unequal distribution is something you likely would have wanted in your will.

Without a will, you risk that your assets could go to someone you hadn’t intended—or worse, someone you wanted to receive something may get nothing at all. Blended families, for example, are increasingly common and can present complexities for estate planning. Preparing a will gives you the peace of mind that your wishes will be legally recognized and properly executed.

2) Take care of your partner

Another common misconception is that your partner is automatically entitled to a portion of your estate. In some provinces, this depends on whether or not you are legally married.

When you die without a will, your surviving married spouse is entitled to a portion (if not all) of the estate. But in certain provinces, such as Ontario, a common-law spouse has no rights when their partner dies without a will. They may qualify as a dependent and be able to make a claim for support, but they have no automatic entitlement the way a legally married spouse would. They can make a claim as a dependent, but the process is no walk in the park—it can be long, expensive, and create friction with the other beneficiaries of the estate.

Regardless of your relationship’s legal status, it’s important to have a will to ensure that your partner receives the assets of your choosing. Otherwise, it is left up to the arbitrary rules of your provincial government.

3) Decide who will care for your children (or other dependents)

Did you know that the only place you can appoint guardians for your children or dependents is in your will? Should you die without a will and leave behind minor children or dependents, it’s up to the government to appoint someone to care for them—and it may not be the person you would have chosen.

In the absence of a will, provincial laws also determine how much money goes to your children. Until they reach the age of majority, though, your children can’t access those funds, and your spouse doesn’t have an automatic right to access them, either. Your spouse would need to apply to court to access the money on the children’s behalf, and would be accountable to the courts for how that money is spent.

With a will in place, all of this can be avoided. As well as appointing guardians, preparing a will allows you to establish Trusts for your children and dependents (and even for pets!) You can also appoint a Trustee to manage the Trust until your children turn 18. By documenting all of these decisions in your will, you can have the peace of mind that your children or dependents will be taken care of the way you want.

4) Avoid unnecessary headaches for those you leave behind

Administering an estate is no easy task—and without a will, it’s even harder.

When you die without a will, you miss the opportunity to appoint an Executor to administer your estate. Without an Executor, no one has an automatic right to make decisions for your estate. This may create a difficult situation for your family, who will face a number of administrative and legal hurdles as they attempt to manage your estate. Until someone is appointed by the courts to administer your estate, your assets (including bank accounts, stocks, and investments) can’t be accessed. Things like automatic monthly payments couldn’t be cancelled, and if the markets were to turn, investments couldn’t be liquidated to mitigate loss.

The process for a family member to get the authority to administer your estate can be time-consuming and expensive. The person appointed by the courts may not be the best person for the job, or who you would have wanted. Each province has a priority list for who has the right to apply to be the Executor. Generally speaking, a spouse would have the first right to apply to be the Executor, followed by adult children.

Another stressor comes from the fact that without a will, many decisions will have to be determined by the courts. This sometimes has the unfortunate effect of pitting family members against each other, as they each try to advocate for what they think is best and what they believe you would have wanted. By preparing a will and making your wishes clear, you can make an already difficult time less difficult for those you leave behind.

5) Minimize taxes on your estate

Without a will, you miss opportunities to plan in ways that can be advantageous for your estate. Although the basic rules for tax on your estate are the same whether you die with or without a valid will, estate planning, including making a will, offers you the chance to minimize income taxes and probate fees for your estate. Leaving a gift to charity in your will, for example, could be claimed against your tax bill. A good financial professional can help you understand the rules and talk through your options.

6) Save time and money in the long-run

While the up-front cost of a will might put some people off, preparing a will saves you and your estate in the long-run. Without a will, what may take you five hours with a professional will take your loved ones days, even weeks of legal work. As mentioned, when no Executor is appointed through a will, the process of distributing your estate is immediately longer and costlier. The time you spend with a professional upfront allows you to save time for those you leave behind and save money for your estate, by avoiding legal proceedings and taking advantage of tax planning opportunities.

7) Remember your favourite charities

Leaving a planned gift to a charitable organization is something many of us do to recognize causes we believe in. Without a will, there is no way to ensure that your philanthropic wishes are carried out precisely as you would like them to be. If your charity of choice changes its name or its focus, for example, you may not have the necessary details in place to ensure that your gift remains with them or goes to another organization. Talking through your options and wishes with an estate professional and incorporating this into your will ensures that you can leave the kind of legacy you wish to.

You can learn more about leaving a gift to the Alzheimer Society in your will at alzheimer.ca/giftinyourwill.


Making a will is one of the most important things you’ll ever do. Why delay? Take the first step towards preparing your will by downloading the Alzheimer Society’s Will Planning Checklist and check out these other great estate planning resources.


This document has been prepared for use by the RBC Wealth Management member companies, RBC Dominion Securities Inc.*, RBC Phillips, Hager & North Investment Counsel Inc., Royal Trust Corporation of Canada and The Royal Trust Company (collectively, the “Companies”) and certain divisions of the Royal Bank of Canada. *Member-Canadian Investor Protection Fund. Each of the Companies and the Royal Bank of Canada are separate corporate entities which are affiliated. The information provided in this document is not intended as, nor does it constitute, tax or legal advice. The information provided should only be used in conjunction with a discussion with a qualified legal, tax or other professional advisor when planning to implement a strategy. ® / TM Trademark(s) of Royal Bank of Canada. Used under licence. ©Royal Bank of Canada 2017. All rights reserved.


Rédiger un testament

7 raisons importantes de rédiger un testament dès à présent… et les conséquences de ne pas le faire.

Prévoir son avenir est important pour tous, mais ça l’est particulièrement si vous ou une personne dont vous prenez soin est atteinte d’une maladie cognitive. C’est pourquoi nous avons établi un partenariat avec les services Gestion de patrimoine, successions et fiducies de la banque RBC pour vous proposer une série de blogues informatifs sur la planification successorale. Dans ce blogue, Elaine Blades, la gestionnaire principale du groupe Pratique professionnelle des services Successions et fiducies de la banque RBC, explique pourquoi il est si important d’avoir un testament… et ce que vous risquez si vous n’en avez pas.


Elaine Blades

Par Elaine Blades, gestionnaire principale, Groupe des pratiques professionnelles, Successions et fiducies à la banque RBC

Plus de la moitié des Canadiens n’ont pas de testament. Il y a de fortes chances que vous ou une personne dont vous vous souciez soit dans ce cas. Personne ne veut penser à la mort, mais je vous mets au défi de réfléchir à ce que vous risquez sans testament.

Voilà 7 bonnes raisons de rédiger un testament :

1) S’assurer que vous souhaits soient connus — et respectés

Une idée fausse consiste à croire qu’en l’absence de testament, tout reviendra comme par magie, à votre conjoint(e) ou à vos enfants, parce que la loi le précise. Ce n’est pas forcément le cas.

Aux yeux de la loi, si vous mourez sans testament, on dit que vous êtes décédé intestat. Cela signifie que votre patrimoine sera réparti d’une manière standardisée selon les lois de votre province. Ces règles qui régissent combien et ce qui revient à chacun ne sont pas négociables.

La situation de chacun est unique. Et il y a fort à parier que vos souhaits ne seront pas ceux de la formule arbitraire utilisée par votre gouvernement provincial. Qu’est-ce que cela signifie concrètement? Supposons que vous ayez deux enfants et que l’un d’entre eux à des besoins spéciaux. Supposons encore que vous ayez prêté de l’argent à l’un de vos enfants au cours de sa vie. Dans chaque cas, il y a de bonnes chances que vous auriez voulu indiquer dans votre testament que votre patrimoine soit distribué de manière inégale.

Sans testament, vous courrez le risque que vos actifs reviennent à une personne que vous n’aviez pas envisagée; pire encore : une personne à qui vous vouliez donner quelque chose pourrait ne rien recevoir du tout. Par exemple, les familles reconstituées sont de plus en plus répandues. Elles peuvent présenter certaines difficultés en matière de planification successorale. Préparer un testament vous donne la garantie de savoir que vos souhaits seront reconnus juridiquement et correctement exécutés.

2) Prendre soin de votre conjoint

Une autre idée fausse consiste à croire que votre partenaire a automatiquement droit à une partie de votre patrimoine. Dans certaines provinces, cela dépend de si vous êtes légalement mariés ou non.

Si vous mourez sans testament, le conjoint marié qui vous survit a droit à une partie (sinon à la totalité) du patrimoine. Mais dans certaines provinces, comme en Ontario, un conjoint de fait n’a aucun droit en cas de décès sans testament du partenaire. Il pourrait se qualifier comme personne à charge et réussir à faire une demande de soutien, mais il ne jouit d’aucun droit automatique comme dans le cas d’un conjoint légalement marié. Il peut faire une demande comme personne à charge, mais la démarche n’est pas une partie de plaisir : elle peut être longue, couteuse et semer la discorde entre les autres bénéficiaires du patrimoine.

Indépendamment du statut juridique de votre relation, il est important d’avoir un testament pour que votre partenaire reçoive les actifs que vous choisissez. Sinon, il sera assujetti aux règles arbitraires de votre gouvernement provincial.

3) Décider qui prendra soin de vos enfants (ou d’autres personnes à charge)

Saviez-vous que votre testament est l’unique document dans lequel vous pouvez nommer des tuteurs pour vos enfants ou les personnes qui sont à votre charge? Si vous décédez sans testament et que des enfants mineurs ou des personnes à charge vous survivent, il appartient au gouvernement de nommer quelqu’un qui s’en occupera… et cette personne pourrait être différente de la personne que vous auriez choisie.

En l’absence de testament, les lois provinciales déterminent également la somme d’argent qui revient à vos enfants. Jusqu’à ce qu’ils atteignent leur majorité, les enfants ne peuvent toutefois pas accéder à ces fonds et votre conjoint ne jouit pas automatiquement du droit à y accéder non plus. Votre conjoint devra faire la demande auprès du tribunal pour avoir accès à l’argent au nom des enfants et il sera responsable devant le tribunal de la manière dont les fonds sont dépensés.

En étant muni d’un testament, tout cela peut être évité. Comme la nomination de tuteurs, la rédaction d’un testament vous permet de préparer des fiducies pour vos enfants et les personnes qui sont à votre charge (même pour les animaux domestiques!) Vous pouvez également nommer un administrateur qui gérera la fiducie jusqu’à ce que votre enfant atteigne l’âge de 18 ans. En documentant toutes ces décisions dans votre testament, vous pouvez avoir l’esprit tranquille : vos enfants ou les personnes qui sont à votre charge seront pris en charge de la manière que vous le souhaitez.

4) Éviter les casse-têtes inutiles pour les personnes que vous quittez

Administrer un patrimoine n’est pas une chose aisée. Et, sans testament, c’est encore plus difficile.

En mourant sans testament, vous manquez l’opportunité de nommer un exécuteur testamentaire pour gérer votre patrimoine. Sans celui-ci, personne ne peut automatiquement disposer du droit de prendre des décisions concernant votre patrimoine. Cela pourrait donner lieu à une situation difficile au sein de votre famille qui fera face à un certain nombre d’obstacles administratifs et juridiques, tandis qu’ils essaient de gérer votre patrimoine. Jusqu’à ce que quelqu’un soit nommé par les tribunaux pour administrer votre patrimoine, personne ne peut accéder à vos actifs (y compris, vos comptes en banque, actions et investissements). Les paiements mensuels automatiques, par exemple, ne pourraient être annulés, et, si les marchés financiers venaient à tourner, il serait impossible de liquider vos actifs pour limiter les pertes.

Le processus pour qu’un membre de la famille ait l’autorité d’administrer votre patrimoine peut prendre du temps, être onéreux et fastidieux. La personne nommée par les tribunaux pourrait ne pas connaître celle plus adéquate pour cette tâche, ou celle que vous aviez en tête. Chaque province dispose d’une liste de priorités permettant de savoir qui a le droit de déposer une demande pour être exécuteur testamentaire. De manière générale, un conjoint aurait la priorité, suivi des enfants adultes.

Un autre facteur de stress est le fait que sans testament, de nombreuses décisions devront être prises par les tribunaux. Parfois, cela a le malheureux effet de tourner les membres des familles les uns contre les autres, car ils pourraient essayer de défendre ce qu’ils pensent être le mieux ou ce qu’ils pensent que vous auriez souhaité. En préparant un testament et en identifiant clairement vos souhaits, vous pouvez alléger le fardeau des personnes que vous quittez.

5) Minimiser les impôts sur votre patrimoine

Sans testament, vous laissez passer l’opportunité de pouvoir planifier de manière avantageuse pour votre patrimoine. Bien que les règles de base relatives aux impôts soient les mêmes, que vous mouriez avec ou sans testament valable, la planification successorale y compris la rédaction du testament, vous donne la chance de minimiser vos impôts sur le revenu ainsi que les frais d’homologation de votre patrimoine. Par exemple, faire un don testamentaire pour un organisme de bienfaisance pourrait être déduit de vos impôts. Un bon professionnel des services financiers peut vous aider à comprendre les règles et vous expliquer les options qui s’offrent à vous.

6) Économiser de l’argent et du temps sur le long terme

Bien que les coûts initiaux d’un testament puissent être déstabilisants, la rédaction d’un testament vous fera économiser du temps et de l’argent sur le long terme. Sans testament, ce qui ne vous prendrait que 5 heures avec un professionnel prendrait aux êtres qui vous sont chers des jours, voire des mois de travail juridique. Comme mentionné, lorsqu’aucun exécuteur testamentaire n’est mentionné dans le testament, le processus de distribution du patrimoine est immédiatement plus long et plus couteux. Le temps que vous passez avec un professionnel dès le départ permet aux personnes que vous laissez derrière vous d’économiser du temps et vous permet d’économiser des fonds sur votre patrimoine en évitant les procédures judiciaires et en tirant profit des opportunités de planification fiscale.

7) Se souvenir de ses œuvres de bienfaisance préférées

Bon nombre d’entre nous font un don planifié à un organisme de bienfaisance pour honorer des causes dans lesquelles nous croyons. Sans testament, il est impossible que vos souhaits philanthropiques soient réalisés exactement comme vous le souhaitez. Si l’organisme de bienfaisance de votre choix change de nom ou d’objectif, par exemple, vous n’aurez peut-être pas les détails nécessaires en place pour vous assurer que votre don leur soit encore attribué. Discuter de vos options et de vos souhaits avec un professionnel et les inclure dans votre testament vous garantira de pouvoir laisser le type de succession que vous souhaitez.

Apprenez-en davantage sur comment faire un don testamentaire pour la Société Alzheimer à alzheimer.ca/dontestamentaire.


La rédaction d’un testament est l’une des choses les plus importantes que vous aurez à faire. Pourquoi la retarder? Faites le premier pas pour préparer votre testament en téléchargeant la Liste de contrôle de planification testamentaire de la Société Alzheimer et découvrez ces autres excellentes ressources concernant la planification successorale.


Ce document a été préparé(e) pour les sociétés membres de RBC Gestion de patrimoine, RBC Dominion valeurs mobilières Inc.*, RBC Phillips, Hager & North Services-conseils en placements inc., Société Trust Royal du Canada et Compagnie Trust Royal (collectivement, les « sociétés »). * Membre–Fonds canadien de protection des épargnants. Chacune des sociétés et Banque Royale du Canada sont des entités juridiques distinctes et affiliées. Les renseignements fournis dans ce document ne constituent pas des conseils fiscaux ou juridiques et ne doivent pas être interprétés comme tel. Les renseignements fournis ne doivent servir qu’à des fins de discussion avec un conseiller juridique ou fiscal qualifié ou un autre conseiller professionnel pour la planification de la mise en œuvre d’une stratégie. ® / MC Marque(s) de commerce de Banque Royale du Canada, utilisée(s) sous licence. © RBC Dominion valeurs mobilières Inc., 2017. Tous droits réservés.

How do you want to leave your financial legacy?

How do you want to leave your financial legacy?

Planning for the future is important for everyone, but it’s especially important if you or someone you care about has dementia. That’s why we’ve partnered with RBC Wealth Management Estate & Trust Services to bring you a series of informative blogs about estate planning.

In this blog, Leanne Kaufman, Head of RBC Estate & Trust Services, asks ‘What kind of financial legacy do you want to leave behind?’

Read More Read More

Power of Attorney: Planning for the future

Power of Attorney: Planning for the future

Follow us, as Elizabeth Murray tells the moving story of her mother’s battle with dementia. In this blog series, Murray explores every part of the experience of caring for someone with dementia, sharing her memories and insights from it all. Her words serve as a great reminder of the many ways dementia affects our lives, and the lives of our loved ones.

Two months before she was diagnosed with dementia, my mother and I were reviewing her bankbooks at her kitchen table.

She had received a letter from her financial advisor informing her about something that had occurred with one of her Registered Retirement Investment Funds. Her understanding was that one of the semi-annual payments she ordinarily received had been withheld and that any request she made for the money would be denied. A telephone conversation with her advisor had left her frustrated and confused.

She was relieved when I offered to talk to him on her behalf. He was even more relieved to accept my call.

He told me that the regular payments from my mother’s RRIFs had been made as usual. The issue was that she hadn’t cashed a cheque for a capital payment that she had also requested. After six months, the cheque had been cancelled and the money had been deposited into her account. Further steps had to be taken to ensure that she didn’t pay income tax on the money she hadn’t received. My mother didn’t understand the problem and she wasn’t prepared to give the financial advisor the instructions he needed to solve it.

Unfortunately, my mother had never signed a Power of Attorney for Property. As a result, I didn’t legally have the authority to tell her financial advisor to take the required action, even though it was obviously in her best interests.

A Power of Attorney for Property is a legal document that gives someone else the power to manage your money and property on your behalf. A Power of Attorney for Personal Care is a legal gives someone the power to manage medical and personal care decisions. It can specifically provide that the person(s) you appoint maintains their power if, later in life, you are unable to make important decisions by yourself.

My mother had never wanted to think about a time when she would need help to manage her financial affairs. While it is a difficult decision to make, by choosing your Powers of Attorney early in life, you can rest easy feeling prepared for the future.

It is especially important that someone with dementia has Powers of Attorney to help make decisions when they are unable to do so. At the Alzheimer Society of Ontario, you can find many resources to help you prepare for the future at www.alzsuperhero.ca

 

Written by:

Writer Elizabeth Murray
Elizabeth Murray
Retired lawyer and the author of Holding on to Mamie:  My Mother, Dementia and Me.
For more information about Elizabeth and her story visit www.holdingontomamie.ca.

What will your legacy be?

What will your legacy be?

Death is a fact of life. Because the transition from life to death is an unknown, humans are full of fear. And fear drives us to avoidance. Even though there has been increasing media attention to end-of-life issues recently, we seem to live in a death-phobic, death-avoidance culture. While our television, movie and video game screens are often filled with images of violent death. And news reports remind us every day of various threats to life.

Can we shift our perceptions to think about our Legacy instead of our deaths? May is Leave a Legacy month in Canada.

May is national LEAVE A LEGACY™ month across Canada. LEAVE A LEGACY™ is a national public awareness program designed to encourage Canadians to leave a gift, primarily through their Will, to a charity of their choice and to raise awareness of the importance of including a charitable gift in the estate-planning process.

The main goal of estate planning is usually to have the greatest amount of one’s estate pass to the owner’s intended beneficiaries. This includes paying the least amount of taxes. A legacy gift can benefit your favourite charity while significantly helping your family save taxes.

We are living in a time when an unprecedented amount of wealth is being transferred from one generation to the next. According to the Canadian Association of Gift Planners, in the next two decades 3.5 million Canadians are expected to die, leaving an estimated $1.5 trillion to their families and community.

Recent data on estate planning

A recent Scotiabank study found that half (50 per cent) of Canadians have a Will and just over half of Canadians (54 per cent) said they have spoken to their family about their intentions for their Will. The study also found that only one third (33 per cent) of Canadians have a Power of Attorney for property, while 59 per cent do not have one and 8 per cent say they don’t know what it is.

The disturbing part is that 50 per cent of Canadians currently don’t have a Will. According to the LEAVE A LEGACY™ program, if this trend continues, about two million Canadians over the next two decade will end life without a Will to protect their assets and their families. Without a Will, people lose the ability to control distribution of their estate to their chosen beneficiaries!

A common myth is people think you have to be wealthy to make a legacy gift—this is simply not true. Anyone can arrange to leave a charitable gift from their estate, regardless of its size.

People give for many different reasons; to ensure their memory lives on, to ensure that their favorite charity is able to continue its important work, to minimize the tax liability that comes with the transfer of one’s estate to surviving family members.

You have the ability to help the lives of people with dementia and create a lasting legacy. Gifts left to the Alzheimer Society of Ontario gives us the security of future funds. This May, get into action, do your Will, leave a legacy and create a brighter future for communities across Canada. We are here to help, request our free Super Hero Estate Planner and Guide. Not all Super Heroes wear capes. At the Alzheimer Society our Super Heroes leave a gift in their Wills to fight our #1 foe – dementia. Take a stand. Get the job done. Protect and help others and gain peace of mind. To learn more, and to request a free estate planner and guide, go to alzsuperhero.ca

 

Written by:

Colleen Bradley Chief Development Officer, Planned Giving Alzheimer Society of Ontario
Colleen Bradley
Chief Development Officer, Planned Giving Alzheimer Society of Ontario

 

Make a Will Month – What gifts can I give?

Make a Will Month – What gifts can I give?

November is Make a Will month in Canada – and this is my sixth and final blog post here for the Alzheimer Society. I would like to thank them so much for this incredible opportunity.  The work being done by the Alzheimer Society is incredible and so needed. Hopefully one day there will be a cure for this horrible disease. Now on to my post.

The law in Ontario is pretty wide open with regards to giving gifts of property in a Will.  You have almost complete discretion.  The vast majority of my married clients leave all of their property to their spouse with a gift over to their children with a further gift over to their grandchildren.  They often will pick out specific gifts to give to specific people.  This is not a required way to do things, it is just the most common.

In addition, my clients will often choose to give charitable gifts to registered charitable organizations like the Alzheimer Society, in order to take advantage of very favourable tax breaks the Canadian government provides.

When you speak to a lawyer or the planned giving departments of charitable organizations like the Alzheimer Society they can talk you through the various ways and the many benefits of including charitable giving in your Will.

When you have decided who is going to get what property, there are certain things you should keep in mind.

First, you are required to provide for your dependents. If you do not, the dependant has the right to bring a court action to essentially rewrite the Will. The court will look at the overall regime set up in the estate, and will only uphold a Will if it is of the opinion that it has sufficiently provided for the dependents.

Second, if a spouse is not satisfied with a Will, he or she can decide to ask for an equalization of property instead of taking under your Will.  This will likely thwart any plan to leave a spouse out of your inheritance.  It is therefore important to ensure that your spouse is reasonably provided for in your Will.

Third, there are ways to minimize your taxes, by structuring certain trusts, and appointing on your Life Insurance Policies and Designating Beneficiaries under certain registered plans like RRSPs and RRIFs.

Fourth – if your beneficiary might qualify for Disability Benefits under the Ontario Disability Support Program, there are certain trust options that are available, that can allow the beneficiary to continue receiving government assistance after receiving an inheritance.  Often people give gifts to disabled beneficiaries without taking into account the impact it will have on their government benefits.

Certain religions have specific requirements for gifts given in a Will. In most cases, those requirements can be met as long as dependents are looked after and the spouse does not elect equalization. Some religions have specific workarounds that are accepted by the religious authorities. Those items I defer to the religious leaders, but it is important for you to ask the question if that is important to you.

Other than that, there is pretty wide freedom for you to decide who gets what after your death. This freedom only exists if you take the time to make a Will. The alternative is for a government formula to decide who gets your property. It might work out the way you wish. It might not.

You do not need a lawyer to make your Will. There are online forms that you can fill out. That said, a lawyer can help guide you through the process in simple and easy to understand way.  A lawyer can make suggestions as to the most tax effective way to structure things. A lawyer will keep up with changes in the law as they occur to assist in making sure that your documents are up to date. A lawyer will make sure that you have not forgotten important things.

The process is NOT as expensive or time consuming as you may be imagining. The time and money invested in these documents such as your Will and Powers of Attorney is well spent; clients gain clarity and peace of mind.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about making your Will and Powers of Attorney. Finally, I would like to thank Sadie Etemad for her assistance in putting together these blog posts.

 

Written by:

Stephen Offenheim

Stephen Offenheim,
The Law Office of Stephen Offenheim
http://www.planyourwill.ca
(416) 863-1300
steve@planyourwill.ca

Make a Will Month – Powers of Attorney and Living Wills. What are they? Do I need one?

Make a Will Month – Powers of Attorney and Living Wills. What are they? Do I need one?

It’s Make a Will month.  As guest blogger for the Alzheimer Society this month, my focus has been on – you guessed it – Wills.

The importance of making a Will is clear. You get to choose who will get your property, who will be guardians of minor children, and who will manage the business of your estate.  This planning is important to determine what will happen after you die.

But what happens before you die? As the people at the Alzheimer Society know all too well, health and mental capacity sometimes deteriorates.  What happens when a person loses the capacity to make legally binding decisions?

Without proper documentation in place, a family dealing with a loved one’s loss of capacity often must begin expensive and time consuming legal procedures to obtain authority to make those decisions. This is a situation that is easily avoided, by putting the proper documentation in place while you do have capacity.

In Ontario, there are two different documents that should be created as a part of any comprehensive estate plan.  A Power of Attorney for Property and a Continuing Power of Attorney for Personal Care.

These documents allow you to make decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to make those decisions yourself. One for property and one for personal care decisions.

Like the appointment of Executors discussed in an earlier blog post, the Power of Attorney for Property can be quite dangerous in the wrong hands.  People can fraudulently access your property.  It is therefore absolutely essential that you appoint someone that you trust totally and completely. When I say totally and completely, I mean TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY. You are able to limit the powers in the document, but that makes it much less effective, and defeats the whole purpose of making the document, which is giving someone the power to deal with your property if you lose capacity.  The more limited the document, the more difficult it becomes to effectively deal with your property.

A Power of Attorney for Personal Care, is a document that allows you to appoint a person to make health care, housing, hygiene, and other personal care decisions on your behalf.  The document allows health care providers to easily determine who has the authority to give consent on behalf of the person who made the document.

Powers of Attorney are essential, because they are so simple, and avoid bringing expensive and time consuming court proceedings in order to manage a person’s affairs.

There are kits available online to prepare these documents.  The Alzheimer Society of Ontario also has an estate planner and guide available free of charge. I urge you to complete these documents immediately.

If you need assistance, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about how these documents work.    My law firm’s $699 Family Protection Plan for couples includes 2 Wills and 4 powers of attorney.   As mentioned in a previous blog, the time and money invested in these documents is well spent; clients gain clarity and peace of mind.

What if you have very specific ideas about how you would like your care to progress in the event that you are not able to give your own instructions? This is where Living Wills come into play. A Living Will (or advance health care directive) sets out binding instructions for your attorney for personal care regarding your treatment.

Without a Living Will, your attorney for personal care has full discretion to make decisions as he or she sees fit. It is up to that person.  If you have a Living Will in place, your attorney for personal care and health care professionals are required to follow your instructions.

Some people want to make a Living Will so that their decision maker has clear guidelines to follow. Some people do not want to make a Living will so that they do not tie the hands of their decision maker. It is a personal case by case decision.

A Will and estate lawyer can help you work through the process of powers of attorney and Living Wills. If you would like more information about this or any other Will and estate matter, please feel free to contact me.

 

Written by:

Stephen Offenheim

Stephen Offenheim,
The Law Office of Stephen Offenheim
http://www.planyourwill.ca
(416) 863-1300
steve@planyourwill.ca

Make a Will Month – Tips on how you can get ready

Make a Will Month – Tips on how you can get ready

It is Make a Will month in Canada, and I am thrilled to be able to guest blog here on the Alzheimer Society of Ontario’s website.  In a previous entry, I outlined the things you need to do to get ready to make your Will. One of the most important things you will do when you make your Will is to decide who will manage the business of settling up and closing your estate once you die – in other words, choosing your Executor.

The person(s) who you appoint to manage your estate is known as the “Executor” of your estate.

In general, your Executor is responsible for the following:

  1. Arranging your funeral;
  2. Paying your debts;
  3. Filing Taxes;
  4. Holding, managing, buying and selling property as is appropriate for the circumstances of your estate;
  5. Holding property in trust for minors; and
  6. Delivering the gifts to the beneficiaries set out in your Will.

 

An Executor does not need a high level of expertise as they can hire professional advisors to assist with legal and accounting matters.  However, your Executor should have a basic understanding of finances and should not be overwhelmed by financial responsibilities and paperwork.

Even more important than specific expertise is trustworthiness.  Since your Executor will have the authority to manage your finances, access your bank accounts, investments, etc., there is opportunity for mismanagement or fraud by the Executor. Unfortunately it happens more than we would like to think. APPOINT SOMEONE honest, reliable, considerate and confident who shares your values and can be held to his/her word.

When choosing your Executor, also keep in mind that it is not an easy task and your Executor may be forced to make unpopular decisions. Therefore you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • How will my Executor(s) deal with all of the paperwork required to complete my estate?
  • How will my Executor(s) communicate with my beneficiaries and other potential stakeholders, including various institutions, government agencies and professionals such as lawyers, accountants, etc.?
  • How will my Executor(s) hold up if faced with pressure from the beneficiaries?
  • How will my Executor(s) hold up, in circumstances of personal grief or personal financial difficulties?

 

Your Executor should be over the age of 18. It is preferable to have your Executor reside in the Province of Ontario if you are an Ontario resident. Non-resident Executors must purchase insurance bonds, which is an expense that will come out of your assets. There are also tax implications for non-resident trusts.

Finally, if you are facing difficulties in choosing an acceptable Executor, consider hiring an estate lawyer or a trust company to act as your Executor; it just might be the right thing for you.

Making your Will can feel overwhelming and stressful. I completely understand. This is why The Law Office of Stephen Offenheim (planyourwill.ca) is committed to making the process easy, and understandable.  For a free telephone consultation please contact me at steve@planyourwill.ca.   No question will be left unanswered.

 

Written by:

Stephen Offenheim

Stephen Offenheim,
The Law Office of Stephen Offenheim
http://www.planyourwill.ca
(416) 863-1300
steve@planyourwill.ca

 

November is Make a Will Month.  And this month YOU could be our Super Hero!   By doing your Will and including a charitable gift you can save taxes, protect those you care about and help save the world from dementia!   Act now!  Click here to request your free Estate Planner and Guide or call Kristy Cutten at 416-847-8915.

Make a Will Month – What is holding you back?

Make a Will Month – What is holding you back?

“When you believe in things that you don’t understand, then you suffer.”
– Stevie Wonder

Early in my career as a lawyer I had a client who called me because she wanted to make her Will and powers of attorney.  I provided her with the information that she needed and asked her when she wanted to meet to give me instructions to prepare the Will.  She told me she would get back to me.

I put her on what I call my “hound list” – a list of people I follow up with from time to time who have expressed interest, but not yet retained my services.  From time to time I would send my client a friendly reminder encouraging her to set up an appointment with me. Each time, she would say that she was ready to go, and that I should call her.   When I called her, she would tell me that she really wasn’t ready yet.   This happened three times.  On the third time I asked her what was holding her back. She literally hung up the phone on me. I was wondering if I had been rude, or had said something wrong.

A few days later I received a phone call. “Steve”, she said, “I want to tell you the reason that I have been delaying making my Will.”  The panic and anxiety in her voice was clear.  After a fairly long pause she said “I’m going to die”.

I was immediately upset and worried. Was she sick? Was there urgency to get this done for her? As delicately as I could I asked, “Are you sick?”

“No.”, she replied, causing me great confusion.

“Is there another reason you are going to die?”

It turns out that she wasn’t going to die – at least not imminently.  She grew up in a family where you simply did not talk about death. It was a taboo subject. The belief being that if you talked about death, you were inviting death. In essence if she made a Will, she believed that she would die shortly after.  She even had an anecdotal story of an aunt who wrote a Will, and died within a month.

People’s beliefs are people’s beliefs. Something that may seem completely irrational to one person can make complete sense to another person. I get it. Death is not a fun topic. It makes people uncomfortable. It is mysterious. It is painful.  And many people want to avoid talking about it.

I am not fond of having people on my hound list, and it is not only for business reasons.  People on my hound list have expressed interest in making their Will. I am aware of the problems that are caused when people die without a Will, or lose capacity without having powers of attorney in place.   I feel a very strong responsibility to encourage people to follow through once they have contacted me.  Whether they use my services, or someone else’s, or even do it themselves, I don’t care. Just as long as I know that they have taken care of this important step.

I used a rational approach.

“Mrs. Smith”, I said (name changed for confidentiality reasons), “Did you know that more than half of the people in Ontario do not have Wills?”  She did not know this.

“Well”, I said, “that means that less than half of the people in Ontario do have Wills – and most of them have lived long, prosperous lives, even after making their Will.”    She laughed.   A tension was broken.

“When you say it that way, it seems so silly”.

To me however, it did not seem silly. Just frightened and scared of the unknown. Once she was able to confront her fears, she was ready to go.

In my experience most adults know they should have a Will and power of attorney. There are three basic reasons they delay.

  1. Superstition/Psychological Readiness
  2. Concerns about Costs
  3. Concerns about Time

 

There is little that I can do except encourage those who are not psychologically ready to commit to making their Will.

Regarding costs there are free resources all over the internet for Wills and powers of attorney. If you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself, you should be able to find a lawyer to prepare a basic Will with a consultation for a very reasonable rate.

Making your Will can feel overwhelming and stressful. I totally and completely understand that. This is why The Law Office of Stephen Offenheim (planyourwill.ca) is committed to making the process easy, and understandable.  To set up a free telephone consultation please contact me at steve@planyourwill.ca.  No question will be left unanswered.

 

Written by:

Stephen Offenheim
Stephen Offenheim,
The Law Office of Stephen Offenheim
http://www.planyourwill.ca
(416) 863-1300
steve@planyourwill.ca

 

November is Make a Will Month.  And this month YOU could be our Super Hero!   By doing your Will and including a charitable gift you can save taxes, protect those you care about and help save the world from dementia!     Act now!  Click here to request your free Estate Planner and Guide or call Kristy Cutten at 416-847-8915.

Make a Will Month – This is personal for me

Make a Will Month – This is personal for me

A few months ago, my cousin posted a wonderful video of my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. The year was 1994. My grandfather gave a wonderful, heartfelt speech about what his wife meant to him. The family did skits making fun of the onion sandwich he ordered on their first date. There was even Karaoke. Good times.

Alex & Clara dancing at their wedding.
Pictured above: Alex & Clara Offenheim at their 50th wedding anniversary.

While the first 50 years of marriage were wonderful for my grandparents, the years that followed for them and for our family were extremely challenging. Shortly after this celebration, my grandfather Alexander was diagnosed with a form of dementia. With his loyal wife Clara by his side, he slowly deteriorated over a 10-year period. It was absolutely heartbreaking watching a man with such wit, and intellect slowly become someone else.

Then shortly after my grandfather passed away, my grandmother was diagnosed with a form of dementia. She is now well into her 90s, and has maintained all of her class and dignity. It has been so difficult for our family to go through this more than one time.

That said we are so lucky that my grandparents had the foresight to prepare. While they had the capacity to do so, they both had prepared their Will and powers of attorney. Everything was set up in accordance with their wishes. The Will appointed executors and beneficiaries for their property. A power of attorney appointed family members to act as their substitute decision maker for matters of property and for matters of personal care.

By taking the time to do so, our family avoided the expensive court procedures associated with guardianship applications. There was no need to purchase expensive insurance or bonds that would have been required had the documents not been in place. We have saved money on lawyers, and saved so much of the aggravation and heartache that goes along with unplanned estates.

This is why I was so thrilled when the Alzheimer Society asked me to guest blog for Make a Will month. I am so passionate about making sure that people have the proper documentation in place. I know firsthand how important this is.

Over the course of this month, I will be providing you with information about what goes into making a Will. What are the things you need to consider? What are some of the traps you can fall into? If there is one message I would like send out to everyone, is that doing these documents CANNOT WAIT. It is way too important.

You may be thinking that doing a Will is expensive and time-consuming. Fees can vary greatly depending on the complexity of your Will and where you live. For example, for a straight forward Will, my law firm charges $399 for a Will and two powers of attorney, with a full consultation with a lawyer. ($699 for a couple). And it does not take very long. Most of my clients take about 3-5 hours in total to complete everything that needs to be done.

Completing these documents is so necessary. Please don’t delay; if you need information right away, there are a number of ways to reach me.
Call me now at (416) 863-1300.
Or send me an e-mail now at steve@planyourwill.ca
Or follow this link to set up a free 15 minute phone consultation or a 2 hour Will instruction session.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope you come back during the month of November to read important information for doing your estate plans. Your reward? Getting into action to protect your family, your assets, and gain peace of mind.

 

Written by:

Stephen Offenheim

Stephen Offenheim,
The Law Office of Stephen Offenheim
http://www.planyourwill.ca
(416) 863-1300
steve@planyourwill.ca