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Friday, May 19, 2017

Why I don't always answer your questions

Every now and then I see a post on this blog that points out - perhaps impatiently - that I have not yet answered a specific question left for me. On occasion this prompts me to answer the question because I had genuinely not seen it in the incoming flow of words. Most of the time though, if I haven't answered a particular question, I have no intention of doing so.

Why would I not answer a reader's question, you might ask. There are lots of reasons, many of them relating to lack of time. Here are some of them:

1. There are dozens of questions and comments each day and some days I'm jam-packed with appointments with clients or I'm in court. Many of the questions get past me just because they come in on a busy day or because a day or two (or three) are seen at the same time.

2. The question is unclear because too few facts are presented. I used to answer these by discussing what happens in one case vs what happens in another based on different facts, but I just don't have enough hours in the day anymore to guess what people really mean to ask.

3. The question is unreasonably lengthy. All of the information presented in the question is important so it's not that the person cannot get to the point; some things are just complicated and take a while to explain.  If it takes you half an hour or more to type your question, it probably needs personal attention from a lawyer in a proper interview setting, not just a quick blog post answer. In a complex situation, you need to discuss your options, not just be told a quick answer.

4. It's a follow-up question. I cannot hold dialogues with people about specific cases here on my blog, for my sake and for theirs. This blog is designed to give ideas and snippets of information (NOT advice) based on the general rules that apply. Getting into a conversation tends to make people think they've had proper legal advice, even though they haven't. It gives people a false sense of security. And it puts me in danger professionally for letting people think they're fully advised when they're not. I know that sometimes people think I'm rude for abandoning the conversation but it is done for good reason.

5. It's a question that would require me to do legal research in order to answer properly. I charge for doing research and writing legal opinions.

6. The question isn't about anything estate-related. I often get questions about family law or real estate law. This blog is only for matters relating to wills and estates.

7. And the MAIN REASON for not answering a question is that readers still post them on the threads that have the warning in red text that the thread is full. I can see the first line of the question on those, but that's it, so of course they don't get an answer.

Having said all of that, I do not mean to discourage questions. In fact, I hope this post will help readers frame their questions so that I can answer more of them in the time I have. It's important to me to know what kinds of concerns and questions people have, as you readers are my conduit to the online public. Your questions and comments and searches let me know what information people are really looking for to help them with estates they are involved with. You let me know what to write about and talk about so that I'm posting information that is useful and timely. Your questions give rise to my new blog posts and the topics I talk about on The Law Show.








13 comments:

  1. Lynne,

    Is it possible that your blog administration page could incorporate additional tools such as various buttons so as to send a pre-worded message to the writer?

    In this manner, a comment you do not wish to spend time in typing a response to, maybe replied to easily by simply clicking the appropriate button. Your reply would then be received by the writer without cluttering the blog with either their comment or your reply. Not receiving a reply within _ days, would signify you missed the comment.

    As you are typically reviewing all comments anyway, the buttons would provide an easy and quick method to at least acknowledge each question/comment and the reason a specific reply will not be provided.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I were using a more modern platform, that would probably be possible. Eight years ago when I started here, it had all the bells and whistles, but it really hasn't modernized. I'm often tempted to move to a different host for this blog, but I'm always afraid I'll lose readers in the process. But...I may end up doing so anyway if this one doesn't move into the 21st century soon...

      Lynne

      Delete
  2. I'm often tempted to move to a different host for this blog, but I'm always afraid I'll lose readers in the process. [LB]
    Mark Reeves makes a very good suggestion.
    I believe you will probably gain new readers. The word is getting out. I wrote to the Globe and Mail suggesting the need for a column about Estate Law and Canadians (Estate Law and You). I hope you don't mind, I mentioned your name.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was nice of you. I appreciate your confidence in me. I'm not a complete stranger to the G&M, having written a number of articles for them during the time I lived in Alberta. I'll let you know if I hear from them :)

      Lynne

      Delete
  3. Lynn, my dad's parents separated before he was born. His birth father remarried and had one son. My dad didn't have a relationship with his father until he was an adult. His half-brother mentioned some items being left in their father's will to my dad but he has never received them. He doesn't know if anything else was left to him. Does he have a right to part of the estate even if he wasn't named in the will? The second wife outlived my dad's father. Would that in anyway effect my dad inheriting or his ability to contest the will? My dad's not interested in "rocking the boat" but I would have no qualms about looking into it after my Dad dies. How do I go about getting a copy of the will?

    ReplyDelete

  4. This might be of help..
    https://www.google.ca/search?site=webhp&source=hp&q=How+Do+I+Go+About+Getting+a+Copy+of+the+Will%3F+canada&oq=How+Do+I+Go+About+Getting+a+Copy+of+the+Will%3F+canada&gs_l=hp.3...6899.11676.0.13782.9.8.0.0.0.0.468.1326.1j6j4-1.8.0....0...1.1j2.64.hp..1.4.828.6..35i39k1j33i160k1j33i21k1.fYLNTPEzL2I

    ReplyDelete
  5. Lynne...FYI
    TAX MATTERS-Hidden tax savings for homeowner heirs
    https://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/personal-finance/taxes/hidden-tax-savings-for-homeowner-heirs/article35319732/?reqid=b4092ce9-0b1a-4fcf-98a1-c79c538bed3a

    ReplyDelete
  6. Question: The Will states that each grandchild will receive $70,000. However the first born child has been made beneficiary to the stocks and bonds with a financial company. If there is not enough money from the insurance, what happens to the grandchildren and other charities names in the Will that have been promised a cash sum?

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm answering this question based on the assumption that the $70,000 gifts are specific gifts and not shares of the residue.

    If it appears that there won't be enough in the estate to give everyone their gifts, the executor must give out specific (i.e. non-residuary) gifts first, meaning the residuary beneficiaries might not get anything.

    As between the specific beneficiaries, cannot favour one beneficiary over another. He cannot give one beneficiary (the one getting stocks) his gift while the others don't get theirs. All have an equal right. Most likely, the portfolio of stocks and bonds should be liquidated. Then each of the beneficiaries can get a certain percentage of the gift they were intended to receive.

    I have over-simplified the rules here, but this is the basic idea. I would suggest that this is something you consult a lawyer about so that you two can sit down and examine the will together. It's easy for me to state a general rule but not so easy to apply general rules to specific cases. You don't want to get this wrong because the charities in particular will not let you get away with that.

    Lynne

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think I have a simalar question as the one above. My grandfather has insurance and a cash portfolio. Two years he wrote my name as his benefactor with his FinancialAdvisor on the cash portfolio but now I’m seeing no mention of the cash portfolio in the Will. But my name is on it and i know this as fact (they took my SINumber). The will is only saying give this much to A and this much to B and this much to C. Online I just read that a benefactor trumps what the Will says in the USA. In Canada too??? I’m wondering if the Insurance cannot cover all the people and organizations named, will the Lawyer (who is the executor) want to liquidate my portfolio? Does he have that right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Marsha,
      The reason the cash portfolio is not mentioned in the will is that you were named on it directly. By naming you, your grandfather took this asset out of his estate, and therefore out of his will. So don't let the absence from the will alarm you; this is how it should be.

      Naming you this way is called a direct beneficiary designation.

      The executor will have no access to the portfolio to pay other beneficiaries because it is not in the estate, even if there is not enough in the estate to pay everyone.

      However, you should be aware that if there is tax on the cash portfolio as a result of your grandfather's debt, this tax should be paid from the estate. If there is not enough money in the estate to pay the tax, then you will have to pay it. This is not a problem. I'm just saying that when you receive the funds, make sure you understand whether the tax has been paid or not so you don't get taken by surprise.

      Lynne

      Delete

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