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How to ask a question

Here are some ways to get an answer to your question:

1. Ask one question. This would work for you if you only need to ask one question and you don't need a whole hour to talk about it. You ask a question via email or via the "Ask a Question" feature on my webpage. This will cost $50. Call Matthew or Chelsea at 709-221-5511 to book a time, or email me at lynne@butlerwillsandestates.com.

2. Book a full consult: Have a one-time discussion on the phone or in person with me of up to an hour. You can send me material (such as a will, release, etc) in advance for me to review before our chat. You can ask as many questions as you want to about the topic. I will provide you with a letter summarizing our discussion if you like. Our conversation creates a working relationship so that your information will always be kept confidential. After the conversation, you are not obligated to hire me or my office to do any other work for you. It's just a way of having a thorough discussion. For this consultation, I charge $400, which you would pay by way of credit card during the call. To book a consult, call Matthew or Chelsea at 709-221-5511.

Those of you who have emailed me asking for free legal advice have probably noticed that I rarely reply. Like most people, I can't afford to give away the very thing that earns me my living. I also can't risk sending a few lines that gives you a false sense of security that you've been fully advised if you really haven't. If you're just curious about the general rules, by all means leave a question here on the blog and I'll do my best to answer you. But if you're planning to make decisions based on what I tell you, I strongly recommend that you choose one of the two options above so that I can give your question the attention it deserves.



47 comments:

  1. I am a residual beneficiary of two estates. the executor of one is very good at keeping us informed, but I don't understand C3 requirements. The second executor is not as good at keeping us informed. One has to ask. And when one asks, one is told a vague "I sent paperwork off last week". This will was lump sums to everybody, charities included. Three years later it is not settled. The sale of property was finaized last February and here we are waiting and it's December! Completely fed up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, trying to get information about estates can be unbelievably frustrating. Sometimes executors have good reasons for delays. There could be tax issues, court delays, low markets, all kinds of things. But why don't they just say so? That's the part that makes me wonder. Surely everyone knows that without facts and information, the people waiting are going to become impatient and start speculating as to what is happening. Communication is so important but many executors are terrible at it.

      Lynne

      Delete
  2. My husband and his sister live in BC and are the children from a first marriage. They moved at a young age to BC from Ontario with their mother when their parents broke up. Their father remarried and has a son from that relationship and remained in Ontario. My husband was recently in Ontario when his father became ill, and his step brother mentioned there is a copy of his father's will sitting on the table, which my husband took home to BC with him. The copy has a stamp that says Copy on it and there are no signatures on the two page document. The will, called a last will and testament, leaves all assets/money for the son from the second marriage, and a niece, to be divided equally between them. There is no mention of my husband and his sister receiving anything in the will. Their father is still living, but is very sick and is terminal. When my husband's sister asked her dad on the phone about the will not leaving them anything he said he didn't leave anything to anyone. His niece who is also a beneficiary is the executor and power of attorney. How do we find out if the copy we have is the copy of a true existing legal will, and is there any grounds for contesting the will ? Their father is now in a long term care facility in BC. The last will and testament was written when he was still in Ontario. I have read that in BC the chance of contesting a will made in BC where children have been left out is easier, but other provinces, no. The will was made out in Ontario ( presuming this copy really is a copy of a legal will) Also I read that you can not contest the will till after the person is deceased. Is this correct? thanks

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Lynne,

    My aunt died in Ontario during 2017. There is a will and I was appointed the estate trustee in 2018. My four siblings and I are the only beneficiaries of her will.

    I retained the services of a lawyer to handle the probate application and was very satisfied with that process. However now I am having doubts about the advice the lawyer is giving me as I begin the process of distributing the estate assets.

    Am I under any legal obligation to continue to retain this or any other lawyer to guide me in distributing the estate's assets?

    Two of my sibling owe me money and want to use their portion of the estate to settle these debts prior to the distribution of benefits because they live outside of Canada. Can they use notarized 'Letters of Set Off' to instruct the trustee to pay the creditor (me) before money is distributed to them?

    Thanks for any advice you're able to provide with either issue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're not obligated to use this lawyer or any lawyer. However, the fact that you want to use estate funds to force repayment of a debt to you personally (which is not allowed) makes it clear why you and your lawyer are not seeing eye to eye.

      Lynne

      Delete
    2. Hi Lynne,

      Thanks for your great feedback.

      I want to clarify that both beneficiaries want to repay their loan before their benefit is distributed and are not being forced to do so.

      The loans were meant to be an interim distribution of their benefit and were made because there wasn't enough money in the estate account at the time.

      Delete
  4. My 90 year old father has a live in caregiver in his home. The caregiver's daughter and grand daughter have moved in as well. There are no issues right now with this arrangement. I'm unclear if there is a valid written contract and she receives cash payment for her support. If my father dies, is there real risk of claims on his estate or challenges with eviction of the caregiver and her family?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mike,
      Yes there are some risks. Here are a few that pop out at me:
      - the caregiver could claim that she was actually a common law wife and that's why her family moved in
      - the caregiver could say she was promised something (e.g. the house) if she stayed there and looked after him
      - the caregiver could claim that she and her family have been contributing to the upkeep of the home and are therefore entitled to a share of it
      - worst of all, the caregiver could have persuaded your father to transfer assets to her because she cares for him more than anyone else does etc.

      None of these are all that rare. I have a pre-trial conference on these very issues next week.

      Lynne

      Delete
  5. Hi Lynne,

    I am about to come into an inheritance and I would like for it to go to my daughter.
    She is not named in the will with my other siblings but I would like to decline my inheritance and have them give her the money instead. Am I allowed to do this? If so, how do I go about it? Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  6. Could you provide a link to this? -- "in my Alberta Probate book I provided a form for this that you can either print or download, as well as forms for all of the executor's record-keeping and accounting" I need something simple that just shows the date, purpose and amount of expenses I have paid into processing an estate as the executor. Thanks for any help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry, no. That is provided in the book for people who have bought the book.

      Lynne

      Delete
  7. I am a residual benificery of a Trust in BC. The trust was created with a life intrest by my father for his wife. The trustee has never informed the me about the trust or the estate.
    I have learned The trustee moved estate funds to my mothers bank account. This trustee was General Power of attorney for my mother.
    I have been to court to contested the Estate accounting.(passing of accounts)
    The court suggested I sign an order for both estates be heard at the same time.(due to comingling)
    Is there a up side to this or work against me?
    It appears The trustee/ POA can not account for life insurance policy from the Estate. He has been involved in Estate Reassesments from years back . The first 10 years of Estate accounting is missing The reasoning my mother (also a estate trustee) look care of her own affairs . He is avoiding any accountability.
    Once he becomes POA (General) he put his mothers financial funds in a joint account with himself. A couple of years later moved the estate funds into the joint account. My mother passed. All finances court ordered into trust until issues are resolved.
    The issues are old but an estimate of $400,000 is unaccounted for.
    Should I sign off to have this all heard at the same time? Or have the estates heard seperatley or
    Presue a breach of trust , undue influence
    Your thoughts are appreciated

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi,

    My mother passed away a couple of years ago. The house was in her maiden name but was married before passing. She didn't have a will. I am the only child. My step father is currently living in the estate and hasn't distributed any inheritance which I know he gets the first $200 and anything remaining after that gets distributed evenly between us. My question to you is how do I Uptain my inheritance if the estate was all that she had? Does he have to sell the house for me to get my inheritance?
    We are both estate trustees.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a complex matter that can't really be addressed in a few lines. I wouldn't be doing either of us a favour if I tried. I suggest you either call my office for a full consult ($400) or that you use the "Ask a Question" feature on my website where you can email in a question and I'll take the time to answer it properly.

      Lynne

      Delete
  9. Hi Lynne
    I have a question. I am in a relationship with a man who is legally married but living a part for 6 years he and she own a house together. She has spent the last 5 years with someone else with an attempt at a reconciliation at the 4 year mark for 6 months. It didn’t work out and I have since been living with him for 10 months and she is back with her boyfriend. Her and her boyfriend legally own a house together as well as her and my boyfriend own this house together. She has reciently decided that I live here with a free ride, though she doesn’t know that I pay bills here and by food and help look after her kids. I also own my own house that I rent out and I rent another property where my belongs reside. Now she is getting upset about mine and my boyfriends relationship and sent him a text saying the house is half hers.
    I’m not arguing that.
    They have not done a legal separation as of yet.
    I am wondering if because they are still technically married and not legally separated on paper if this 50 50 split of assets would also included that part of the house that she owns with her boyfriend?
    I also wonder if I by a house with my boyfriend and they are not legally separated is she intitled to half the house we would own together.
    I realize this is complicated and really appreciate your thoughts on this. We live in Saskatchewan

    Aimee

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Aimee,
      I appreciate your question but since I don't practice family law, I don't have any answers for you. You should talk to someone who specifically deals with family law.

      Lynne

      Delete
  10. Hi Lynne,

    Is there a purpose to a "mindfulness" clause in a Will? i.e. "I am mindful that I have not made any provision for my son, _______, and I have deliberately done so." - does this affect how probate is achieved and/or make it easier to be achieved, or does it not really do anything at all?

    Thank you so very much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That clause does not make it any easier to get probate, nor is it supposed to. It is designed to eliminate any possibility that the person left out of a will can claim it was a mistake and that they are actually entitled to a share. In other words, it helps reduce the odds of a lawsuit.

      Lynne

      Delete
    2. That's exactly what I thought. Thank you for all your help you are doing on here.

      Delete
  11. I am not sure that the lawyer interpretation of a section of my mom’s will is correct. As for probate can I still go though probate with this firm although I don’t agree with his interpretation? And disperse the funds to the beneficiaries as the trustee absolutely deems advisable as it says in the will? If there is no disagreement with the beneficiary’s? I have held on probate with the lawyer until I gather more information as I know it’s my duty to do as my mother wished. Thank you for your advice.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am not sure that the lawyer interpretation of a section of my mom’s will is correct. As for probate can I still go though probate with this firm although I don’t agree with his interpretation? And disperse the funds to the beneficiaries as the trustee absolutely deems advisable as it says in the will? If there is no disagreement with the beneficiary’s? I have held on probate with the lawyer until I gather more information as I know it’s my duty to do as my mother wished. Thank you for your advice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At the end of the day, it is up to the executor to carry out the terms of the will. If you don't want to work with a lawyer, or not this particular lawyer, you don't have to. However, it could be that the lawyer knows more about wills law than you do, so be cautious about ignoring legal advice.

      Why not get a second opinion from someone else about the clause in question?

      If you ignore legal advice and something goes wrong, you're on the hook.

      Lynne

      Delete
  13. I am awaiting a second opinion from another lawyer. If the interpretation differs from the lawyer I hired for probate then what do I do? Just I hate to pay the first lawyer for starting all the paperwork for probate, then have to hire a new lawyer. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  14. My loved one died in Calgary without a will. I am in BC. When I fill in the Application for a Grant of Administration can I get it notarized by a notary in BC and mail it in or do I have to travel to Calgary to do this in person at the Court of Queen's Bench?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi My mother died, and my sister died shortly afterwards. My mothers property went to my sister. I do not know who the executors or beneficiary's are of My sister estate. But I do know the lawyer who made both Wills.
    There was no probate, or Change to land registry of Ontario. My Mothers name is still on title as of last Monday Feb.11 2019. I want buy the land, from my sisters Estate, but the Lawyer does not want give the names of the executors or beneficiary's, of my sister Estate. Can I take the lawyer to Court to get a copy of the will and the names? Thanks..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you are not a beneficiary of your sister's estate, you will not be successful in asking the court to force anyone to give you a copy. Non-beneficiaries do not have the legal right to see the will.

      There is no reason in the world why the lawyer should give you the name of the beneficiaries of your sister's estate. That would be an egregious breach of lawyer's ethics.

      As for telling you the name of the executor, you do have a good reason for wanting to contact him or her. You have to remember though that a lawyer is not allowed to give out private information such as what her client said in their will. So it's not the lawyer's information to give. Perhaps you could ask the lawyer to pass your name and number on to the executor so the executor can call you.

      Lynne

      Delete
  16. Hi, short and sweet my aunt has both my mother and myself down as her executors for her will as well as her beneficiary of her estate. Right before her passing other people stepped in and had her take us out, she was not if right mind at the time in hospital, they also had her POS changed and my mom omitted. They also made sure we had a no contact order with her, which broke our hearts not being able to speak with her or see her before her passing? It was horrible and my mother suffered the loss of her sister much sooner than her passing due to all this influence from others in her life. We have all original wills poa’s and letters she wrote asking us to do for her once she passed. Do we have any legal course to fight this ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When a will is made, the person who signs it must do so voluntarily. It sounds as if in this case, your aunt might not have signed her new will voluntarily.

      If she was coerced, tricked, pressured etc into making a will that she would not have made without that pressure, this is called undue influence. If you can prove in court that they unduly influenced her, the will would be voided.

      This isn't easy litigation. It's never easy to prove what was going on in someone else's mind and heart. However, it can be done as long as you have the evidence to support it.

      This is not something you want to try on your own. Take all of the wills and other paperwork to a lawyer near you who has plenty of experience in wills litigation. You should be able to get information about how long it would take, what it would cost, and what evidence you'd need to get.

      The whole situation sounds heart-breaking and I hope you are able to resolve it.

      Lynne

      Delete
  17. Hi Lynne,
    My mother recently passed away. My mother lived in a nursing home. She was receiving CPP/OAS as a source of income and she had to pay her "rent" part in the nursing home. We had a joint bank account
    and she had a RIFF, which I am beneficiary of. My brother passed a 12 months ago, and my dad passed away also, so I am the only living next of kin(her daughter). My mom owes $6789 to CPP/OAS which they have been taking $100 off her cheques to pay back an "over payment" on her account. As I've been reading a joint bank(which we've had for 6-7yrs) and a RIF are not part of her "estate". The only money she got back was her nursing home partial rent money(as they pay 1 month ahead), her own trust account at the nursing home and part cell phone payment. Total $1030.09. Do I need to see a lawyer? Or do I send CPP/OAS the $1030.09 as she has technically no money in the estate? Or do I have to pay them from her RIF? I'm not sure how to do with this situation.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thank you so much for your generosity in maintaining this excellent site.

    I wonder if you could at some point address the question of whether (when?) it is advisable to have two separate lawyers when a couple wants to have their wills drafted.

    I'm very perplexed about this. Our wills will need to be coordinated somewhat, especially with regard to provisions for the case where we die simultaneously, but I expect them to differ from each other in various details. I see lawyers advertising special rates for couples, but does that mean the wills must be exact mirror images of each other to qualify? If they are not, then, if one uses the same lawyer, may that lawyer not find him/herself in a situation where he/she is obliged to inform one spouse of another's action, but doing so would mean breaking lawyer-client confidentiality?

    Where one lawyer is used for both wills, is it usual for both spouses to be present for one consultation, or can they be seen individually?

    grateful for any insight you can provide

    ReplyDelete
  19. After reading your blog I understand a heir can waive (turn dowm) an inheritance. But i was told different. My question is, can an heir in the province of Quebec which is on social assistance and receiving rent supplement waive an inheritance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My experience - and therefore what I blog about - is with the common law system of wills that exists in every province and territory in Canada, except for Quebec. In that province, they have a civil code that is much different than the rest of the country. I've never practiced in that jurisdiction and as a result, I don't know all the rules. If the information you have received is from a reputable source with Quebec-related experience, I have no doubt it is more appropriate for you.

      Lynne

      Delete
  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  21. A little humour or humor-

    Daily Cartoon: Thursday, April 25th/19
    “It’s Take Your Child to Work Day.”
    [img]https://media.newyorker.com/photos/5cc1d3d4f1d6222e51c0c015/4:3/w_172,c_limit/DC042519.jpg[/img]
    or
    Daily Cartoon: Thursday, April 25th/19
    “It’s Take Your Child to Work Day.”
    https://media.newyorker.com/photos/5cc1d3d4f1d6222e51c0c015/4:3/w_172,c_limit/DC042519.jpg

    Webeye

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi, I just have a quick question. My grandfather on My mother's side died Nov 2017, his estate was to be split between his 4 children. My mother passed just 4 months later and im wondering if her share of the estate would go to me and my sister or to my stepdad? There was nothing in the will to cover this so im wondering what is normal in this situation as my stepdad wont give me a straight answer about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He might not be giving you a straight answer because he doesn't know the answer himself. Your mother's share is now part of her estate. Did your mother have a will? If so, her share will be distributed according to that will. If she did not have a will, her share will be divided according to your provincial intestacy law. That almost always means a combination of the spouse and the children.

      So, you see what I mean that he might not know the answer. The real key at this point is to find out whether your mother had a valid will in place.

      Lynne

      Delete
  23. A bit of humour...

    Dilbert:Friday -June 21, 2019- Lawyers Take Years
    https://assets.amuniversal.com/eb75afd05fbe01379ddf005056a9545d

    ReplyDelete
  24. A bit more humour...

    Dilbert:Saturday -June 22, 2019- Lawyer Can't Be Too Careful
    https://assets.amuniversal.com/ee34d3205fbe01379ddf005056a9545d

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hi, Lynne
    My husband passed away recently .His will said give the house to me and all his cars belongs to house go to my name . But I found he owned Federal tax 200000,creidt card 50000 = mortgage 300000. HOuse worth 500000. in this case .They have to sell the house , kick me out right away .I never work .I depend on him . Can i have option to stay in the house for a while ? if I pay rent. what is the best option ? If i can borrow money from my family i have right to buy the house ?so i can stay . i don;t know how much i should pay to buy the house . i have to pay tax that he owned and mortage or just pay his morttahe ? thank you so much ! I am so desperate

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's a lot going on here. I answered this question in a new blog post dated July 1, 2019.

      Lynne

      Delete
  26. Hi Lynne,
    Your probate kit was invaluable. Thank You! I’m ready to distribute my mother’s estate to beneficiaries, but I’m not sure which documents to send to my bankrupt sister’s trustee. Are they to receive the same docs as the other beneficiaries – i.e. Release, Stmt of Proposed Distribution, Financial Stmt, Executor’s Compensation Stmt? (The will stipulates my compensation at 2.5% of estate value.)
    Thank you!
    LG

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great, I'm glad the probate kit was a help. Yes, send the whole package to them because they will need to figure out exactly what your sister should be receiving from the estate.

      Lynne

      Delete
  27. Lynne...of interest to your readers?

    Cross-border couples need special tax planning
    https://www.theglobeandmail.com/investing/personal-finance/taxes/article-cross-border-couples-need-special-tax-planning/#comments

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hi. Thank you for your blog. I have read through it and I appreciate your general information.
    I have an unusual situation I was wondering you might have some general comments on.
    I am the executor of a non family member estate. I am a bequest beneficiary (small bequest) and also residue beneficiaries - of which there are 4 (3 individuals and 1 charity).
    The issue is that the deceased was a hoarder. This is giving rise to multiple issues. I am very open and transparent with the residue beneficiaries, but it is hard for anyone to understand what this entails until you get in there. They have seen photos. I can't even let them in without hazmat and masks.

    1. The paperwork is a mess, disorganized and chaotic, and locating it in the house is taking a long amount of time due to the hoarding. This is becoming more like a full time job for me.
    2. The house contents (standard contents, not overly valuable) are not sellable due to risk of contamination.
    3. The few personal contents (more sentimental, low value) are willed to me.
    4. The real value of the estate are the investments and house - all to be liquidated.

    Questions:
    1. should the residue beneficiaries sign releases to agree to the disposal of the house contents as they are not sellable, due to the risk of contamination?
    2. what are my reasonable obligations in finding all of the assets, in a hoarding situation.
    3. Do I get extra time on top of the executor year in a situation like this.
    4. The house will be going up for sale, but will need a professional abatement team and repairs. I realize this will come from the estate to pay for it. But can the beneficiaries dispute the need for the remediation, if they don't want the money spent. Selling the house "as-is" will substantially deplete it's value, and remediation is likely to raise it. As well as the risk of illness to new home owners or those wanting to even walk through to view the home, could be an issue (could the estate be sued?). The abatement will be costly, cleaning these types of homes is not inexpensive. The repairs will also cost. I don't want to create a brand new home, but fix the hoarding damage and increase its sale value.

    5.Do the residue beneficiaries sign releases all along the way in a situation like this, to agree to the steps that I have to take?

    If there wasn't this issue, the estate might be considered, on the easy side of things. But the hoarding is a real issue.

    thank you in advance.

    ReplyDelete

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