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Family Law Archives

Putting the "Success" Back Into Succession Planning

One of the increasing challenges facing parents and other family members today is achieving success in their estate planning - passing on their wealth well. But how should we define "success". From a professional viewpoint, much of estate planning focuses on ensuring a tax and cost-efficient transition of wealth to future generations and primarily focuses on financial aspects. But in doing so, have we lost sight of the forest for the trees? What is the overarching purpose of passing on wealth? Is it just about the money?

Estate Planning and Marriage Breakdown - Protecting the Inheritance

In estate planning, a parent typically wishes to provide for their children and each child's family. However, this desire to benefit the child's family often has a caveat: the child's spouse should not receive any part of the inheritance in the event of separation or divorce.

Medically Assisted Dying in Canada - An Update

In April 2017, the CBC reported that over 1,300 people in Canada have died with medical assistance since the Criminal Code was amended in 2016 to legalize medical assistance in dying ("MAID"). While this statistic points to the importance of MAID for many Canadians, the new legislation has not settled the ongoing debate concerning the right to die. Recent litigation on various fronts has highlighted continuing controversies, including questions about the role of medical professionals in MAID, limitations on who will have access to medically assisted dying, and ambiguity in the criteria for access.

Reproductive Technology and Estate Law: The Road to Progress is Paved with Good Intentions

On January 1, 2017, most of the provisions of the All Families Are Equal Act (Parentage and Related Registrations Statute Law Amendments), 2016 (S.O. 2016, c. 23) came into effect in Ontario. The intention of the Act is to establish new rules of parentage in Ontario to deal with the modern reality of assisted reproduction and surrogacy when it comes to who is, and who is not, a parent of a child and allow for non-biological parentage structures without the necessity of Court intervention. This involved updating and revising a number of statutes to make related amendments, such as to the Vital Statistics Act (Ontario) to reflect the new rules as they affect birth registrations.

The New Normal: Assisting a Child with Buying a Home

A current trend in the increasingly expensive Canadian housing market is parents helping children or grandchildren and their spouses with a down payment or mortgage on a first home. In Ontario, about 35% of people buying homes now receive assistance from their relatives with a down payment and approximately 38% have a down payment of 20% or more. To see statistics for down payment assistance across the country, please refer to this link. Although such financial assistance is helpful for a child or a young couple looking to get into the housing market, this generous gesture can lead to unexpected and undesired consequences and even disputes, including upon a child's marital breakdown. Without having done the proper planning or evidencing their intention, parents may even see a child lose their gift to a former spouse.

Keeping Things Up-To-Date

Putting estate planning documents in place can be a daunting task, but it does not end there. Estate planning is an organic process that requires ongoing attention and revision. Circumstances in your life will continue to change and your main objective is to ensure that your wishes and intentions are properly reflected in your plan and documents, both upon incapacity or death. What meets your financial and personal needs now may not do so in the future, so it is important to continue to review your documents, in particular when your circumstances change.

Family Law - Family Trusts: What Happens When a Marriage Breaks Down?

The Ontario Family Law Act (FLA) determines the division of property between spouses on marriage breakdown. But what happens when a spouse is a beneficiary of a discretionary trust?

Cross-Canada Checkup: Property Rights on Marriage Breakdown and Death

Canadians are increasingly mobile within Canada. Employees are transferred and move with their families to another province, couples decide to retire in a province with a more moderate climate, or seniors decide to move to be closer to their children and grandchildren. But in changing jobs, lifestyle and family connections, our legal "lives" are also changed. It is surprising how significantly the basic laws that govern property rights on marriage breakdown and death differ if we survey each province's and territory's regime. This fact is not well-known among most Canadians, and can lead to unexpected results.

Planning with Discretionary Trusts for the Matrimonial Home

A common consideration when completing or updating your estate planning is often how best to protect assets in the event of marital breakdown--whether your own marriage, including a second marriage, or an intended beneficiary's (e.g., a child or grandchild). The need to protect certain assets may be even more pressing when the property is a home or cottage that has been in a family for generations, carrying strong emotional ties and significant memories. Protecting this property can be complicated, however, if it qualifies as a matrimonial home under Ontario's Family Law Act.

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