O'Sullivan Estate Lawyers LLP
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Thought Leadership Archives

Best Interest - Conflict of Interest: The Provision of Financial Advisory and Financial Planning Services

As we look forward in our crystal ball to looming issues on the horizon for 2017, one that certainly comes to the fore is the regulation of those who provide financial advice and financial planning services, often offered under the nomenclature of "estate planning" or "retirement planning" advice.

Ethos for an Aging Society

It is quite remarkable to think that notwithstanding our increasingly aging demographic,1 the recognition of the rights of older persons as a distinct group has been largely absent in the field of human rights. Only recently the rights of older persons as a distinct group have begun to emerge and slowly become reflected in legal thinking and legislative change. There is increasing movement towards creating a United Nations international declaration or convention on the rights of older persons as older persons' rights have not generally been expressly recognized at the international level. One of the objectives for creating an international convention is to provide a concrete overarching legal framework for use by government around the world, including by guiding policy-making in order to address the distinctive human rights issues faced by older persons.

Zen and the Art of Estate Plan Maintenance

You may remember the bestseller Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance which explores many themes, including the dichotomy between the "romantic" approach to life versus the "classical" approach--in the moment versus rational analysis--and the common ground linking them. The sense of mastery and peace of mind that comes with the author's ability to maintain his older, classic motorcycle versus his friend's lack of interest in understanding how to maintain his expensive new one and his resulting frustration when it breaks down, forcing him to rely on professionals to repair it, are key themes.

Canada, the U.S. and Going Borderless: Nowhere to Hide

Perspective is important and illuminating--only about fifteen years ago, or perhaps even less, it was not common to have to consider the impact our Canadian and U.S. tax and legal regimes have on estate planning and our affairs in general. The 49th parallel and the world's longest undefended border symbolized separate tax and legal regimes, and there was little recognition of the need to consider the impact of the laws on either side of it, notwithstanding many Canadians living south of it and many U.S. citizens living north of it.

Towards a More Just Society: Law Commission of Ontario Breaks New Ground on Decision-Making

In my first year of law school--1978--Ontario introduced new legislation to allow a power of attorney to survive incapacity. It's amazing to think that prior to 1978 only legal guardianships through the court process (then called "committeeships") were available to allow a decision-maker to act on behalf of an incapable person.

Proactive Charitable Giving: A Balancing Act

Charity begins at home, so they say. This may be where it starts, but your estate plan is where your charity may end. Most of us will donate time or money to one cause or another during our lifetimes (who doesn't love Girl Guide cookies?). When we die, however, our charity will die with us unless we proactively make plans to carry it forward. Failing to plan means by default choosing not to make charity a part of your estate plan. This may be what you intend, but as with all aspects of your estate plan, a careful consideration of available options and making a conscious decision is usually preferable to letting the decision be made for you. 

Ethical Wills

You may or may not have heard of the term "ethical will". An ethical will doesn't deal with money or assets, but instead with values, beliefs, words of wisdom, inner thoughts, and family history and tradition. We predict it will become a more common part of the estate planning process in future.

Fiduciary Accounting - Slicing the Pie Without Causing Indigestion

Transparency has become a powerful discussion point in recent years. A lack of corporate financial transparency has arguably been the cause of many modern major financial crises and corporate bankruptcies. Whether you agree with this view or not, transparency is a hot-button issue, both socially and politically. Lack of transparency can create an emotional, almost visceral reaction in those who view it as a deliberate attempt to hide the facts from those who are entitled to them. This reaction can, in turn, be upsetting and frustrating to those who are not attempting to hide anything, but for a variety of reasons legitimately believe that greater transparency is not necessary or appropriate in the circumstances.

We are a top-ranked and peer recognized firm, including Margaret O’Sullivan by Chambers Canada Guide 2017 and Chambers Canada High Net Worth 2016 as one of the top six private client lawyers in Canada:

  • Top Ranked Canada Chambers 2017 Margaret O'Sullivan
  • Margaret R. O'sullivan 2016 | Listed in Best Lawyers CANADA
  • Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory
  • The Law Reviews | Expert Panel 2015
  • Step | Canada | Advising Families Across Generations
  • Top Ranked HNW Chambers 2016 Margaret O'Sullivan
  • Recognised in WHO'SWHOLEGAL | WWL
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