WILLS TRUSTS AND ESTATES

Estate Planning


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Estate planning is a broad and complex subject which requires extensive knowledge to be handled successfully.  Seemingly small errors and omissions can cause all degree of unnecessary costs, delays in probate and financial losses to your estate.  With the help of aWinnipeg estate planning lawyer, you can see to it that your wishes will be carried out and your loved ones cared for when you are gone.
At the Assiniboia Law Office, we can help you determine the most strategic plan for yourassets.  This includes real estate, vehicles and household items, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, retirement accounts, life insurance, the value of your business and more.  There are many important decisions to be made and our knowledge and guidance can ensure you are informed and have confidence in your estate plan.

Why is estate planning important?

Some of the most important parts of estate planning are your will and enduring power of attorney.  Without a valid will upon your death, your estate will be divided per Manitoba’s inflexible intestacy laws.  This can leave those you wish to provide for without sufficient means or without any benefit at all from your estate.  With no one in place to administer your estate, certain family members you may not have intended to hold control of it may end up doing so.  Creditors can even make a claim and be approved to hold this position.  It is always best to attempt to avoid estate litigation if at all possible.

Many other factors are involved in the process of estate planning, some of which have immediate effects.  These can involve the establishment of trustsgifting, estate freezing, a succession plan for your business, estate taxes and more.  We will begin with a broad view of your estate and work with all interrelated factors to develop the best strategy to achieve your objectives.

Contact a Winnipeg Estate Planning Lawyer for help seeing your estate is addressed as per your wishes and your loved ones cared for after your passing.

Probate


Winnipeg Estate Planning Attorney

Probate is the process by which a will is verified as legally valid, along with the authority to act of the executors named in the will.  Depending on the assets involved, probate is not always necessary.  For example, assets such as a joint bank account or a house held in joint tenancy usually pass automatically to the surviving spouse and do not then require probate.  Similarly, where beneficiaries are named in instances such as retirement accounts and life insurance, probate would not be needed.

While probate involves fees and taxes, it does have its benefits.  It can protect assets from unwarranted control and can also protect a rightful executor from personal liability for distributed assets.  Additionally, a limited period applies in which additional dependants or beneficiaries can make a claim.  Without probate, no time limit is in effect.  A Winnipeg estate planning lawyer can weigh how these factors apply to your estate and planaccordingly.

Estate Administration

Probably the most important thing to note about estate administration is that if you do not assign someone to this role in a legal will, your estate will be administered by someone not of your choosing.  This means a qualified person and even a creditor can apply and be approved to take on that duty and thus divide your assets according to their own priorities.

Administering an estate is an incredibly involved and time-consuming process.  At Assiniboia Law Office, we can help with the preparation that makes the administration of your estate a smoother process.  We can help to protect beneficiaries from unnecessary fees and mismanagement or claims from additional dependants.  This process also helps to ensure your wishes are able to be effected after your passing.

Contact a Winnipeg Estate Planning Lawyer for help establishing your estate plan in a way which takes probate and estate administration into account for the good of your loved ones.

Estate Litigation


Estate Planning Lawyer in Winnipeg

It is unfortunately the case that litigation can occur in relation to an estate after the passing of the decedent.  Additional dependants can make a claim to the estate, ex-spouses can claim an interest in certain assets, creditors can attempt to take funds from the estate, and even beneficiaries can fight for a larger share.

Many more similar situations can occur, which can interfere with the realization of your wishes as well as cause trouble and heartache for your loved ones.  The best defense against this is to enlist the help of a Winnipeg estate planning lawyer to ensure that your willand estate are established correctly.

Protecting Your Estate

Estate litigation often focuses on the validity of the will itself or the interpretation of its instructions.  Working with the Assiniboia Law Office, you can be confident that the specific legal requirements of your will preparation are met.  With the quantity and complexity involved in an estate, our thorough knowledge and experience means we can protect against ambiguity in your will and state your intentions explicitly.

Additionally, we can devise ways of protecting portions of your assets from potential estate litigation by way of trusts and gifts.  The earlier this process is begun, the better, as there are steps that can be taken before one’s passing that assist in this objective.  We understand you do not want your loved ones to suffer any more after your death due to a failure to protect your estate from litigation.  We can incorporate actions related to this into the overall strategic plan of your estate to obtain the greatest benefit possible.  Our quality service is based around seeing that your estate is protected and your objectives are achieved.

Estate Taxes


Planning for Estate Taxes

When a person passes away, most of their tax obligations will be fulfilled by their estate.  This includes capital assets such as property, which is considered to be “sold” following a person’s death.   These assets will be taxed under capital gains tax laws and rates, excluding a personal residence which is exempt from capital gains taxation.   Beneficiaries of money accrued in a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) or Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) will be required to pay personal income taxes on their financial inheritance unless the beneficiary is a spouse or disabled child.

Tax planning is a critical part of estate planning.  It can help minimize your tax liability and ensure there will be enough income on hand to pay any remaining obligations.  Contact aWinnipeg estate planning lawyer to have your estate and tax situation thoroughly reviewed.  A knowledgeable attorney can give you sound legal advice regarding any tax issues that pertain to your estate, and provide valuable legal representation.

Estate Taxes Lawyer in Winnipeg

Assiniboia Law Office is a highly skilled estate planning firm that can ensure your wishes will be honored and upheld after your death.  We have helped individuals and families for over 20 years with important legal documents such as wills and trusts, as well as estate matter such as taxation.  Our firm can be counted on to protect your interests and ensure your estate plan is structured to reflect you specific needs and desires.

We will provide assistance in reducing your estate tax obligations through:

  • Asset ownership restructuring
  • Beneficiary designations
  • Trusts
  • Life insurance policies

Attorneys at our office can be relied on to skillfully guide you through the estate planning process.  We are well-versed in estate laws, and can help lessen your tax consequences.

Tax Implications


Winnipeg Estate Planning Attorney

A primary purpose of estate planning is to ensure the estate is preserved for the beneficiaries.  Taxes can significantly detract from an estate and it is important to strategize in order to avoid this however possible.  Obtaining the help of a Winnipeg estate planning lawyer is a vital step in ensuring this is done thoroughly and competently.

Errors in such a particular matter are easily made unless one is well trained on all applicable laws and related matters.  Unfortunately, such errors can be incredibly costly.  At Assiniboia Law Office, we work with the client’s best interests in mind.  We will ensure we have an understanding of your objectives and concerns so we can include these in our plan for minimizing tax.

Tax Implications of Estate Planning

Our knowledge and experience can greatly benefit your peace of mind as well as the well-being of your family.  Taxes do not have to destroy your estate, as there are many ways in which it may be protected from unnecessary tax.  Some of these include:

  • Transferring assets to individuals in lower tax brackets
  • Ensuring assets are jointly held in order to avoid probate fees
  • Establishing trusts for beneficiaries
  • Incorporating charitable donations which result in tax credits
  • Obtaining insurance for taxes and creditors as needed

Although planning for one’s passing can be a hard task to face, it is a wholly worthwhile one.  In this way, you can ensure your loved ones are cared for once you have gone.  Having these financial and logistical matters squared away also frees your family and friends of this burden at such a difficult time.  If done skillfully, it can sometimes result in immediate tax benefits.  This can include such methods as gifting, estate freezing and the establishment of trusts.  We are here to help you address this matter as easily and intelligently as possible.

Asset Protection


Which assets are considered in estate planning?

The first requisite to protecting one’s assets is to ensure your estate plan is completed by a qualified Winnipeg estate planning attorney.  Without an estate plan in place upon your death, your assets will be distributed per the inflexible intestacy laws without regard to your personal wishes.  If an estate plan is incorrectly prepared, your loved ones may see the assets you intended for them taken away by taxes, creditors or specific legal directives.

Assets to be considered in estate planning cover a broad area and include such things as:

  • The family home
  • Real estate (including foreign real estate)
  • Collectibles and household items
  • Bank accounts
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Life insurance
  • Retirement accounts
  • The value of your business

Estate Planning Lawyer in Winnipeg

At Assiniboia Law Office, we can help you determine an estate plan that will preserve your assets as best as possible and see them handled per your wishes.  This involves the consideration of a great many complexities and our extensive knowledge is invaluable in this regard.  We can even guide you in establishing a succession plan, to help protect your business from depreciating in value once it has changed hands.

There are also times when the predicted liabilities of the estate will not be covered without liquidating some assets.  In this case we can help plan the most strategic way of addressing this eventuality.  An analysis can be done to determine which assets will have higher value or returns if retained.  Your assets can then be managed accordingly.  Of course, all of this is decided in alignment with your objectives and wishes.

Duties of Trustees


What is a trustee?

Trusts can be divided into two main categories: inter vivos trusts, which are created and effective during one’s lifetime, and testamentary trusts.  Testamentary trusts are created as part of your will and come into existence in the event of your death.  Trusts involve a settlor creating a trust with their assets in the interests of the beneficiary.  Although the beneficiary has access to the trust per its established directions, legal title is held by a trustee.

Winnipeg estate planning lawyer can assist in creating a trust that meets your needs and objectives as well as all legal requirements.  A trustee may be either an individual or a trust company or both, and there may be multiple trustees.  It is important to select trustees who are both trustworthy and competent.  At Assiniboia Law Office, we can advise as to what factors should be considered when undertaking such an important action.

Estate Planning Attorney in Winnipeg

A trustee is responsible for a broad array of functions.  These are all to be executed in alignment with the primary purpose of upholding the wishes of the deceased.  Actions involved can require a trustee to:

  • Take care of funeral arrangements and burial or cremation.
  • Liaise with lawyers, accountants, real estate agents, appraisers, insurance and pension companies, creditors and the Canada Revenue Agency.
  • Open and administer an estate bank account and monitor all assets and properties.
  • See that all tax matters are concluded.
  • Meet with family members and beneficiaries and distribute estate proceeds amongst them.
  • Notify previous employers, relevant government agencies and various service providers of the decedent’s death and address any necessary paperwork.

Due to the volume and complexity of matters involved, ample preparation best serves your interests as well as the interests of those you leave behind.  We stand by to make this very involved matter simple and to serve you according to your personal needs.

Gifting


Winnipeg Estate Planning Lawyer

Gifting can be beneficial to both the recipient and the donor.  With the help of a Winnipeg estate planning attorney to see that the gifting is transacted correctly, tax benefits can result.  Estate planning can include gifts made during one’s lifetime, as well as gifts provided for upon one’s death.

When planning your estate with the help of the Assiniboia Law Office, the subject of gifting will be reviewed.  The benefit of such to your estate can be established and you can select charities or individuals on whom you wish to bestow a gift.  We will look into the specifics involved and determine the best option.  We may also suggest certain gifts if they achieve the same objective you have mentioned elsewhere yet are more beneficial if addressed in this fashion.

Points to Consider in Gifting

There are many points to consider in choosing to make a gift and administering the transaction.  Primary amongst these is the question of whether or not the beneficiary is capable of receiving the gift.  A review of any legal restrictions is required, as well as the personal circumstances of the beneficiary.  For example, if an individual is bankrupt the gift may go straight to creditors and will not benefit your loved ones at all.

Whatever the situation, we will look for a solution to achieve your financial and personal objectives.  We will use our knowledge to review all available options and determine the best course of action.  Gifting can even be used during the transference of business ownership and can maximize the benefits of that process.  We may suggest the use of private foundations or similar mechanisms to minimize tax burden.  Aside providing the plan of events upon your death, immediate tax benefits may also be available.

Wills


Will Lawyer in Winnipeg

Types of Wills

There are two primary types of wills, a last will and testament and a living will.  A last will and testament is a legal document that states your final wishes after your death, including how your property will be distributed.  When a person dies without a last will and testament, any assets will be divided according to Manitoba’s intestacy laws.  The lack of a will can also result in a next-of-kin or a creditor of your estate petitioning the court to serve as your estate’s executor or administrator.  This could mean that someone you would never have chosen to oversee the distribution of your property will be left in charge of your estate.

A living will gives a person of your choosing the ability to make any final medical decisions regarding your treatment when you are no longer able to speak through a health care directive.  It ensures that your wishes regarding medical care when you are dying will be carried out.

A skilled Winnipeg estate planning attorney can discuss the laws pertaining to wills and ensure you have valid and properly constructed legal documents that will protect your interests regarding property distribution and medical care.

Winnipeg Will Attorney

The absence of a will after your death can result loved ones not receiving your intended gifts, delays in asset distribution and unanticipated expenses.  Creating a will is vital when it comes to making sure your final intentions will be carried out, including:

  • Who will be the executor or administrator of your estate
  • Who will receive your assets and property
  • The type of property or assets they will be given
  • Who will be the guardian of your minor children

Assiniboia Law Office is a capable estate planning firm that provides quality legal services and representation to clients.  We have a thorough understanding of the estate planning process and can skillfully execute wills, trusts and other necessary estate documentation such as change of beneficiary and codicils.  Our firm has over two decades of experience ensuring our client’s estates are properly managed after their death.

Health Care Directives


Winnipeg Health Care Directive

Attorney

Information on Health Care Directives

A health care directive is a legal document that authorizes another person to make medical decisions on your behalf when you are no longer able to communicate your wishes.  It can state exactly what type of treatment you want, or simply leave all medical decisions up to the individual named in the document.  Medical professionals have a duty to continue to provide care regardless of the circumstances of your condition.  Without a health care directive, doctors will make their own decisions regarding your medical treatment, or confer with a parent, spouse or older child.  Other next-of-kin, domestic partners or close friends who may have more understanding of your desires will not be consulted.  A health care directive empowers a person of your choosing to decide what type of care you will receive when you are unable to speak for yourself.

Contact a Winnipeg estate planning lawyer to find out more about health care directives and how to ensure your desires regarding medical treatment are upheld.

Health Care Directive Lawyer in Winnipeg

Assiniboia Law Office is a qualified estate planning firm that can help prepare vital legal documents such as wills, trusts, and health care directives.  Without a health care directive, your medical care will be decided by doctors, a spouse, parent or elder child if you are incapacitated.   It is not uncommon for family members to disagree about the type of treatment a loved one should receive when they are seriously ill.  Some situations can become so combative that they can only be resolved in court.  A health care directive makes sure your intentions regarding medical treatment are carried out.  The directive will go into effect when:

  • You are comatose or near death and your condition is terminal
  • You are no longer able to communicate your own desires verbally, in writing or through any other means
  • You doctors or the medical personal providing treatment are notified of your written directions

We have over two decades of experience working with clients to make sure their final requests are carried out.  Our firm can provide reliable legal advice, and ensure all of your needs and requirements are met.