It's been almost three years since our last blog on the European Succession Regulation. It seems timely to check the pulse and see what impact it is having on estate planning and administration.As a refresher, the Regulation came into effect on August 17, 2015 and applies to all European Union member states with the exception of the U.K., Ireland, and Denmark, each of which decided to opt out.
Earlier this week, O'Sullivan Estate Lawyers participated as one of the gold sponsors of the STEP Canada (the Canadian branch of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) 20th National Conference in Toronto, which annually brings together trust and estate specialists from across Canada and other countries to share knowledge and discuss developments. Among the attendees this year were representatives of law and accounting firms, professional trustees, insurance and investment companies, and even experts for finding missing heirs.
Millennials are a loosely defined group of people (those born approximately between 1981 to 2001) who are now beginning to enter the workforce and acquire their own assets. With an aging population it is inevitable that there will be a significant wealth transfer between baby boomers and millennials over the next several decades. In order to plan for this, the younger generation should turn their mind to drawing up a Will, giving careful consideration to who they wish to benefit and take steps to protect family wealth and/or an inheritance. Not only is succession planning important, a Will clearly outlines their intentions and alleviates stress for families if an unexpected death occurs.
On May 4, 2018, we celebrate our firm's 20th anniversary. I thought it would be fitting as well as helpful to reflect on one of the most challenging questions in family succession: whether children should be treated equally. Being a trust and estate lawyer now for over thirty-five years has given me perspective, as well as some practical insight into this issue.
Not to beat a dead horse, but it bears repeating: our population is aging. With an increase in the number of people in our society over 65 comes a variety of social and economic challenges, some of which you are no doubt already familiar with. One issue which many people may not have considered, but which is almost certain to affect them sooner or later, is the question of who will make their medical and other personal care decisions when they are not able to do so.
The Rule Against Perpetuities (the "Rule") is an old and complex legal rule that aims to prevent the delay of vesting of many types of transferred property interests beyond the "Perpetuities Period" and is the bane of many lawyers who draft wills and trusts. A property interest vests when it is absolute and cannot be defeated. There are many ways to transfer property interests, including under a will or through a trust.
Having a power of attorney for property is a document we continually recommend to clients who are in the process of updating their estate plans. The purpose of a power of attorney for property is to give a named individual (the "attorney") the authority to act on behalf of the person executing the document (the "grantor") and make decisions with respect to their financial affairs. Under Ontario law, a continuing power of attorney can be used after the donor is incapable of managing their financial affairs and can be revoked at any time as long as the grantor is mentally capable.
When it comes to ensuring a loved one with a disability is taken care of, few things are more important than a well-considered plan. And yet, for many, it can often seem as if few things are more difficult than planning for a disabled family member. Often the difficulty arises from a confusion regarding the options that are available and a general lack of available information regarding these options. Our Advisory Estate Planning to Benefit Family Members with Special Needs provides an overview of many available options to address a variety of concerns faced by individuals planning for a disabled loved one.
In both our August 2015 and March 2016 blog posts, we discussed the importance of frequently reviewing your estate planning documents, as personal and financial circumstances can constantly change. Failing to make necessary revisions to your estate planning documents may result in unintended consequences that do not accurately reflect your wishes, intentions and goals.
On July 18, 2017, the Federal Government announced changes to close "loopholes" in the taxation of private corporation income. One of the stated goals is to provide for "fairness" in the taxation of income so that business income earned through a private corporation is not "unfairly" subject to lesser rates of tax than other income. The purpose of this blog is not to discuss whether this should be a goal of our tax system. Change is a constant in all things, including tax policy, and a change in tax policy appears to be here, whether popular or not.