Wills & Estate

Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Estate Administration

Good advice during the estate planning process is invaluable. Some of the issues we will help you navigate in relation to your wills and powers of attorney:

  • Selection of executor
  • How to treat all of your children fairly when one child is inheriting a farm or company shares (and the others are not)
  • Using a dual will structure to minimize probate fees
  • How to arrange an inheritance for a handicapped child
  • Whether or not to leave a gift to charity   

Kurtina will meet with you for an initial appointment. She will collect background information and provide you with various options in relation to your documents. If opinions from other professionals are required (accountants, financial planners, corporate lawyers, insurance specialists) then, with your authorization, Kurtina will seek out that advice. Once your estate plan has been established, Kurtina and her team will ensure the plan is carefully recorded in your will and power of attorney documents. 

Once signed, we will ensure your documents are safely stored in our vault and only released upon your death or written instruction.

To ensure you have a positive experience at our office, we have accessible parking spaces, are wheelchair accessible and barrier free. You will meet with Kurtina in a private meeting room. 

To speak with the wills and estates clerk, please call 519-352-8580 ext. 104

Areas of Estate expertise:

  • Estate planning and advice
  • Will and power of attorney drafting
  • Dual wills
  • Henson trusts
  • Guardianship applications
  • Will interpretations
  • Passing of accounts

Duties of an Estate Trustee

On Ontario, the term “Estate Trustee” is now used to describe executors (persons who “execute” the deceased’s wishes set out in a Will), administrators (persons who administer the estate of the person without a Will in accordance with the intestacy rules), and trustees (persons who carry out the trusts that may be set out in a Will).

The Five Main Duties of an Estate Trustee

  1. To obey the directions of the Will
  2. To act impartially between beneficiaries
  3. To exercise ordinary care and prudence in securing assets and paying debts
  4. To place trust duties before his or her own interests
  5. To be ready to account 

Failure to perform any of these duties may make the Estate Trustee personally liable for breach of trust.

Aspects of an Estate

Estate Inventory

The Estate Trustee must, as soon as possible, look in the deceased’s documents and papers and secure all of the assets of the estate (change locks, update insurance information, etc.). Since the Estate Trustee is liable for Estate Administration Tax (probate fee) we recommend the Estate Trustee obtain fair market value appraisals for the assets of the estate (real estate, automobiles, etc.).

Estate Accounting

One of the first duties of an Estate Trustee is to establish a special bank account for the Estate. A bank will require a notarial copy of the Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee, photo identification and, of course, a signature card. In some complicated estates, J. Quaglia Law Office will act as the “bank” for the Estate. This makes it much easier and more economical for us to assist in keeping track of the estate receipts and disbursements. The Estate Trustee must be able to account for all money coming into and paid out of the estate account.

Executor’s Year

The Estate Trustee generally is allowed one year from the date of death of the deceased to realize the estate assets and prepare a proposed distribution. No beneficiary can insist on an earlier distribution.

Debts, Taxes and Distribution of the Estate

Debts and Taxes

The Estate Trustee must make sure that all of the deceased’s creditors are paid. An Estate Trustee becomes personally liable for the payment of debts and taxes if the estate bank account had enough money to pay creditors, but instead the Estate Trustee disburses funds to Beneficiaries.

In some instances, a partial distribution of funds can be made to Beneficiaries provided enough money is held back by the Estate Trustee to pay creditors. Note: There are creditors, such as Revenue Canada, whose claims can only be estimated AFTER all information and slips have been collected.

Distribution of the Estate

If the Estate Trustee is satisfied that there will be no complaints or disputes in regard to the delivery of specific legacies, we recommend that the Estate Trustee pay out specific legacies as soon as possible after the date of death to avoid claims for interest on those legacies. Before distributing the residue of the estate, the Estate Trustee should provide an accounting to the Beneficiaries (money in, money out, Estate Trustee’s fee, legal fees, etc.) and obtain from them a Release confirming they are satisfied with the accounting.

Passing of Accounts 

If even one of the Beneficiaries is dissatisfied with the accounting and proposed distribution of the estate, the Estate Trustee has little choice but to prepare accounts in a special format and arrange for a “passing of accounts” by a Judge of the Superior Court.

Contact us with your questions!

We’d be happy to help answer your questions and deal with any concerns you have.

Call us or stop by our office to make an appointment.

Questions? Get in touch with our knowledgeable wills & estate team.

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