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Estate Planning

Your plan to manage your health and property during your lifetime, and ensure your wishes are followed after your death.

A thorough, well-crafted estate plan will provide you with peace of mind, knowing your affairs will be taken care of during your lifetime and after your death.

We recommend spouses and life partners plan their estates together. We will work with you and your partner under a joint-retainer agreement to provide a solution unique to your needs, and prepare the documents required to execute your plan.

Your tailor-made estate plan will include a review of your assets and advice for optimizing your affairs, a Will, and powers of attorney (personal care and property). In addition, your plan may include:

  • Establishing one or more trusts
  • A Living Will
  • A secondary Will (usually for those who own all or part of a privately held Canadian corporation)
  • Mutual Wills contract
  • Complex tax considerations (for which we will work with an accountant)

Estate Planning at Scharf Estate Law

There are many reasons to have a Will:

  • Making things simple for your loved ones. A Will makes the management and distribution of your estate as simple as possible for the people you care about. Dealing with death and grief can be very emotional, and a difficult time for your family to navigate the legal complexities which arise if you die without a Will.
  • Ensuring your wishes are followed. If you die without a Will, your estate will be distributed in accordance with the Succession Law Reform Act which may not be what you want. In particular, you may have possessions which you want to pass into the hands of someone in particular. For instance, you may want your car to go to our oldest child, or a particular piece of family jewelry to go to your youngest grandchild. Without a Will, neither of these is likely to happen.
  • Caring for loved ones. Common-law partners, for instance, may not benefit under the Succession Law Reform Act. Unless you make specific gifts, people who are important to you may be left out.
  • Appointing a guardian for your children. Without a will, it may be difficult to ensure your kids are cared for by someone you know to be kind, caring, and trustworthy.
  • Caring for your pets.
  • Giving a legacy gift to your charity of choice. The Succession Law Reform Act will not direct any of your assets to go to charity unless the legacy is in your will.

We feel that your Will represents your life’s aspirations. Taking time to consider and execute your Will is a gift to those you love and wish to provide for in some way.

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For more information:

Adult children with disabilities (Henson Trusts)

Avoiding conflict when preparing your Will 

Lawyers love to plan for conflict — prepare your estate trustee (executor) for their job

Musings on the personal journey of making a Will

Mutual Wills contracts: If I get remarried, should I make a contract with my new spouse?

Pets: Providing for your furry family in your Will

Why should I have a will?

Video: Don’t accidentally cut one of your children out of your Will – Estate of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry

Granting powers of attorney (for personal care and property) is how you plan ahead for rare and unforeable events.

Hopefully you never have the misfortune of being in a car accident or developing a degenerative disease which leaves you unable to make decisions about your health and property. But most people want the peace of mind which comes from knowing important decisions will be in the hands of someone they trust, if these rare and unforeseen circumstances occur.

Carefully chosen powers of attorney, one for personal care and one for property (they can be the same person), ensure your affairs are well taken care of while you are alive. Your Will takes care of your affairs after your death.

What is a trust?

Think of a trust as a gift with conditions.

More technically, a trust is a legal entity created when a person grants control over assets to a second person, who manages the assets for the benefit of a third person. There are different kinds of trusts and ways to create them, but they all share three common elements: a trustor, trustee, and beneficiary.

It’s easiest to explain trusts with a simple example.

A grandparent wants to leave $5,000 to a grandchild but does not want their grandchild to get the money until they turn 25 (grandparents are smart and know young people may not make the best decisions if they get money too early in life). To make this arrangement, the grandparent would create a testamentary trust in their Will.

This example illustrates the three common elements:

  • A “trustor” — in this example, the grandparent is the original owner of the assets ($5,000).
  • A “trustee” — the person who the grandparent designates in their Will who will manage the assets according to the conditions which the trustor has created. In this case, the conditions are that the trustee hang onto the $5,000 until the grandchild turns 25.
  • A “beneficiary” — the grandchild who benefits from the assets (they will receive the $5,000 on their 25th birthday).

This is a simple example of an irrevocable, funded, testamentary trust. There are many kinds of trusts and they can be created while a person is alive (inter vivos) or in their Will (testamentary).

Why might I want to create one?

Wealthy or not, there are many reasons why your estate plan might include inter vivos or testamentary trusts:

  • Giving gifts with conditions
  • Preserving your family’s wealth
  • Providing for people with disabilities in a way that ensures they do not become ineligible for government disability benefits
  • Tax planning
  • Protecting assets

Your circumstances and wishes are unique. Legal and accounting advice will help you determine if creating one or more trusts is the right thing for you.

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For more information:

Video: Harry Houdini made his intentions perfectly clear

Video: I want to leave money to my kids but… A simple explanation of trusts

 

These prices include whatever consultations are required, a review of your assets, advice, and the drafting, validation, and execution of all documents.

These prices are our best estimate, without knowing everything about your specific needs. Before you retain us to act on your behalf, we will quote an exact price or, where applicable, an hourly rate with an estimate of the hours which will be required.

Individual Will (does not include complex trust arrangements) $500
Individual powers of attorney (personal care and property) $150
Individual estate planning package: your Will and two powers of attorney (personal care and property) $575
Partners Wills: individual Will for each spouse or life partner (two Wills total) $900
Partners estate planning package: Individual Wills plus powers of attorney (personal care and property) for each spouse or life partner (two Wills plus four powers of attorney total) $1,025
Mutual Wills contract (for spouses and life partners who want to agree on what will happen to assets after the death of one spouse or life partner) $300
Hourly rate $250/hour