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What Exactly Is An Executor/Executrix?

executor Feb 06, 2019

An Executor* is the person appointed by the testator (the person that created a Will) to carry out the provisions in the Will and see to the settling of the estate. Asking someone to be your Executor is not an easy task. This person will become responsible for nearly 150 duties after your death, including:

  • Checking for insurance on the deceased’s life and property
  • Securing the list of the deceased’s property and arranging for the property to be safely stored
  • Ensuring buildings are taken care of and that regular snow clearing, lawn cutting and other maintenance occurs
  • Ensuring businesses or farms are being run properly
  • Notifying the beneficiaries of life insurance or investments; beneficiaries need to contact the company to receive their inheritance
  • Checking the Bank of Canada for lost bank accounts
  • Notifying Passport Canada, Alberta Registries and creditors about the death
  • Post ads in Alberta newspapers 
  • Notifying all beneficiaries about their interest in the...
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How to Write a Basic Eulogy

demise Jan 30, 2019

Our office was contacted by a 32-year-old client who was attempting to deal with her father's estate. She had found the process quite complicated and confusing, especially given that she had never attended a funeral before.

Our client was overwhelmed, and the thought of writing her fathers eulogy was more then she could handle. Our office walked her through our executor's handbook, a document that outlines what you do the first 365 days after death. One of the first steps was writing a personal tribute to her late father, and she found our 6 Easy Steps for writing a eulogy to be very useful. We wanted to pass this information along, in the hopes it can be helpful to someone else who finds themselves having to write their first eulogy:

  1. BRAINSTORM - When a loved one dies writing the tribute can be challenging to contemplate writing. Brainstorm ideas with family members. You will need to obtain necessary biographical information, however, stories from family and friends can...
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Flying With Cremated Remains

demise Jan 23, 2019

Our office once dealt with an estate where the dying mothers wish was to be cremated and her remains returned to Prince Edward Island. After her death, her three grieving sons booked a flight out estate to spread their mother's ashes on red beaches of PEI. They had mom cremated and thought that taking her in their carry on bag would be the best way to transport her. Imagine their horror when the Edmonton International Airport security guard demanded that the urn is left behind so he could verify what was in the container. 

Passengers are allowed to carry a cremation urn with them as part of their carry-on baggage. The container, however, must pass through the X-ray machine. Documentation from a funeral home does not provide an exemption to this requirement. Additionally, an urn cannot travel in checked baggage. 

Before you head to the airport, you should ask your funeral director about temporary containers for transportation purposes. These containers are more...

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What is an executor's duty of care?

executor Jan 16, 2019

When acting as the Personal Representative of an estate, your conduct must meet a certain standard. In legal terms, you have a duty of care in how you handle things and you owe this duty to all persons interested in the estate. If you do not meet the standard, you will be held personally liable for the losses that occur.

We suggest treating the property as if it were your own. You must act honestly, prudently and to the best of your ability. If you do, it is unlikely that you will be held responsible for things that go wrong. 

Here are a list of things you should pay particular attention to when handling an estate.

  • Do not deal with estate property in a way personally benefits you, or in any way that appears to personally benefit you.
  • Keep a detailed record of your thought process when making decisions. You may even want to keep a journal of your activities as Executor.
  • Invest estate property as needed in safe instruments, but note that this does not mean that you should invest...
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What are some of the key benefits to creating a trust?

estate planning trusts Jan 09, 2019

A Trust allows you to control your assets from beyond the grave. You can clearly outline who gets your assets, when they get them and under what regulations or situations they’re able to use them. It provides a means for you to spread your assets out and spread the tax liabilities. It also allows your assets to flow to people outside of your estate. If you create a Trust today for all your family members, that money will leave your estate and it will not pass through your Will, so it saves you some tax as well as some probate fees if you have to pay them. This becomes especially important if you have assets in the United States or if you have assets that you may not want people to know about. Trusts can be a great tool in an estate plan!

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Holograph Wills

wills Jan 02, 2019

If your parent has written down their wishes and it is entirely in their own writing, we will treat it as a holograph Will.

A holograph Will is a Will that is in the testators writing with no other written words on the document.

One of the most famous holograph Wills is actually found at the University of Saskatchewan. In that Will, a farmer was out farming, cut off his arm and bled to death. He wrote his Will on the fender of a tractor saying ‘I leave everything to my loving wife,’ and that fender was cut off and probated in court.

So, a holograph Will will suffice; it isn’t the best solution, but it’s definitely better than a Will kit.

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Three Factors to Consider When Naming an Executor

estate planning executor Dec 26, 2018

1.     Pick someone who lives in the Province of Alberta:

When you are looking at picking an Executor for your estate, you want to make sure you pick somebody who lives in the province of Alberta. If you pick someone from outside of the province, we may have to post bond which can be time consuming and costly. Additionally, if you have an Executor who is a United States citizen, there can be tax implications as they are considered our foreign trustee. 

2.     Pick one individual:

When you’re looking at an Executor, pick one individual; don’t pick all three of your children. One individual can go into the house and make decisions and wrap up the estate quickly. When you appoint more than one, it becomes time consuming and a lot of times their schedules conflict and they don’t get anything done.

3.     Pick somebody who has the time:

Finally, when you’re looking to pick an Executor, pick somebody who...

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The Dangers of (and Alternatives to) Joint Tenancy

real estate Dec 19, 2018

In my practice, I am frequently consulted by seniors who are considering putting their home or cottage into “joint names” with their children. This way they can avoid Estate costs and taxes. While that is true, there are a few factors and legal consequences that people should be aware of before they place their land into joint names with a person other than their spouse. For instance:

  1. Probate fees in Alberta are relatively low and are a maximum of $525.00 for estates more than $250,000.00;
  2. There is no Estate tax payable in the Province of Alberta;
  3. Transferring property into joint ownership with someone other then your spouse may trigger income tax consequences if the property has appreciated in value. It may also result in unforeseen tax consequences such as property tax subsidies or “clawback” provisions.
  4. Joint ownership means joint control – the new “joint owner” will have rights and interests in the property
  5. The property may now be...
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Does every Will have to be probated?

probate Dec 12, 2018

No, not every Will has to be probated. For instance, assets that are held jointly with a right of survivorship would pass outside the Will. As another example, a home held jointly between a husband and wife would pass to the survivor of them upon the death of one of them. Probate is not needed to transfer title to the home and for this reason, probate does not typically occur on the death of a spouse.

Many people place their children on title to their home in the hopes of avoiding probate. Probate cannot necessarily be avoided by placing children on title. As well, if you have large amounts of money in the bank, probate may be required. Often it is difficult to know if a will must be probated upon the death of a loved one, and only by consulting an experienced wills and estate lawyer can you know for sure if probate should be applied for.

If you have any questions about an estate, please contact our office at 780-458-8228. Remember, we are here to help!

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Advancing Money to Children

Sometimes our children or close family members run into a financial bind and need to borrow money. In many cases both the lender and the borrower assume that this money will be paid back quickly. What happens if the lender, who is frequently an elderly parent, dies before the loan is repaid? In my experience this is when the family feud begins, as the borrower will say this money was a gift to them, and the other beneficiaries, frequently the borrower’s siblings, will feel it is a loan that should be repaid from their inheritance. You can avoid this devastating situation by talking to an experienced estate lawyer. If your intention is to have money provided to your children by an advancement on inheritance, the amounts you have advanced should be clearly documented and you should have a clause in your Will saying any advancements are taken into consideration when the estate is divided up. If you are going to “gift” this money to the borrower, then your estate...

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