Toronto Estate Planning Lawyers
The Toronto estate planning lawyers at Massey LLP understand that estate planning is something many would rather do down the road. In fact, 51 per cent of Canadians don’t have a will, according to StatsCan, and only 58 per cent of those aged 55 and up have one. But each year, the runway shortens to ensure you have a plan to smoothly pass on your wealth the way you want. And, if you have a family business, wouldn’t you rather decide succession now – instead of a judge doing it for you, later?
No one wants their lack of, or inadequate, estate planning to end with horns locked in estate litigation , loved ones lacking the funds you thought you provided, or the business you spent your life building in the wrong hands, or worse, shuttered. That’s why it’s important for our Toronto estate planning lawyers at Massey LLP to guide your estate planning to ensure your vision of the future will unfold as you intended when you pass away or become legally incapacitated.
The Toronto estate planning lawyers at Massey LLP realize that some wrongly think estate and succession planning are the same things. They’re not: an estate plan is the umbrella that covers how all your assets will be handled; a succession plan is one element of an estate plan that deals with what happens to a family business or family office.
Trusts are another important component of estate planning. The Toronto trusts lawyers at Massey LLP assist clients with creating a trust, which enables you to set aside money and assets that will be distributed to those named beneficiaries by trustees.
Further, with no law in Canada governing the control and ownership of digital assets, the Toronto estate planning lawyers know that an estate trustee’s (executor’s) hands could be tied if a will isn’t drafted to specifically address how digital assets are to be handled. Our Toronto estate planning lawyers have a concentration on this important and growing part of estate planning.
The Toronto estate planning lawyers at Massey LLP are on our client’s estate planning and wealth management which is crucial to safeguard your succession.
Why you need our Toronto estate planning lawyers to preserve family wealth, business wealth
The Toronto succession planning lawyers at MASSEY LLLP will tell you Canadian families who have a family office or larger business interests frequently worry about succession planning and protecting family wealth that resulted from hard work, savvy market moves, and smart investing. The good news is that, overall, wealthy families stay wealthy – especially with solid estate planning.
We’re in the middle of the most significant intergenerational wealth transfer in history, with more than US$30 trillion passing from the baby boomers to 90 million millennials. Let the Toronto succession planning lawyers at Massey LLP help you preserve family wealth, family control, and your family’s legacy.
But baby boomers are only one part of the story. Our Toronto estate planning lawyers note that only about 10 to 15 per cent of wealthy families inherited that wealth, while 75 per cent to 85 per cent are self-made, according to the 2016 landmark book Cross Cultures by Dennis Jaffe and James Grubman. So, once wealth is created, the next step is safeguarding the future. The Toronto estate planning lawyers at Massey LLP draw on years of experience providing clients with the right advice to do just that.
Our Toronto estate planning lawyers understand it can be difficult to put your affairs in order, but don’t be tempted to do it yourself. Estate planning is not a DIY project. We have the qualifications, sensitivity, and deep experience to advise you to create the right estate plan.
For example, our Toronto estate planning lawyers stay on top of current caselaw which can make all the difference when crafting our bespoke estate plans. Daniel Nelson , lead counsel in our firm’s estate planning, trusts, and succession practice area, frequently appears in the media commentating on law changes that can affect your estates, trusts, and succession planning.
The Toronto estate planning lawyers at Massey LLP say you can scribble your intentions on the proverbial napkin, but do you realize that the subtleties of the ever-changing legal landscape can poke a pinhole in what you thought was an air-tight plan? For example, our Toronto estate planning lawyers know that amendments to Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act (SLRA) mean marriage doesn’t revoke a will any more – though it’s not retroactive and applies to those married in 2022 and after.
The Toronto estate planning lawyers at Massey LLP will also tell you that now with Bill 24, Accelerating Access to Justice Act (2021), a separated spouse is no longer entitled to benefits under your will – even if they are designated an estate trustee or a beneficiary in it – if you have lived apart for three years and have a valid separation agreement or court order.
Meanwhile, our Toronto succession planning lawyers note the practice of a business owner dying and simply passing on the business to their designated heir is less common than it once was. We know that succession planning is evolving, becoming more about what happens when the business owner retires, with 42 per cent of Canadian entrepreneurs telling an IPC Private Wealth poll they’d rather sell to a third party, while 27 per cent want to wind it down upon retirement. All of this means it’s vital to have the steady assistance of our Toronto estate planning lawyers.
Types of services our Toronto estate planning lawyers can help you with
The Toronto estate planning lawyers at Massey LLP know that a well-drafted will is the foundation of your estate plan. If you die intestate your assets will be distributed evenly among your relatives, which may differ from how you would like your wishes to unfold. In short: a carefully considered, customized will ensures your wealth transfers smoothly to your chosen heirs while avoiding legal problems in the future.
Besides crafting your will, other services provided by the Toronto estate planning lawyers at Massey LLP include these:
Determine whether the deceased left a will and locate it.
Amend [change, update] existing wills or trusts
Business succession planning
Cross-border estate planning
Medical directives (another word for a health care directive
Mirror wills (having wills prepared for spouses)
Multiple wills to avoid probate
Real estate planning
Planning for special needs beneficiaries
Toronto trusts lawyers can assist you with trust administration, changes, and drafting trusts
Our Toronto trusts lawyers can help you set up a trust fund — a useful and popular estate planning tool for tax and financial planning advantages. A trust is a legal entity (or arrangement) that holds property or assets for a person or organization.
To establish a trust fund, our Toronto trusts lawyers will advise you that three parties are required:
the grantor – also called the settlor
the beneficiary or beneficiaries – those who will benefit from the assets owned by the trust
the trustee – the person who manages the trust
The important principle with trusts is that they separate management and control of an asset from its ownership. In certain cases, however, the settlor, trustee, and beneficiaries can be the same person.
Trust funds are managed by the trustee, who is a fiduciary, meaning someone who must act for the benefit of the grantor and beneficiaries.
Why are trusts such a popular estate planning instrument? Generally, say our Toronto trusts lawyers, there are four categories of benefits to establishing a trust including:
To organize for long-term control over complex assets, such as business interests or real estate in other countries
To arrange for the care of vulnerable family members in the event of the caregiver’s death or incapacity
To reduce income tax due upon death and do it legitimately in accordance with tax rules set out by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
To minimize probate fees upon death, or avoid them altogether
The Toronto trusts lawyers at Massey LLP will help you set up a trust, administer that trust, and change (legal term is to “vary”) it if your circumstances change using an application in court when required. An important consideration that we can advise you on is the so-called residence of a trust (where it is managed from) that affects federal and provincial tax.
Importantly, our Toronto trusts lawyers have experience drafting legally enforceable trusts that will stand up in court should the trust be challenged by family members or others.
Trusts can take many forms and can be established under different stipulations. Trusts can hold a variety of financial instruments and assets in many different combinations:
Stocks and bonds
Once a trust is created as part of your estate plan, our Toronto trusts lawyers can assist you with all legal and financial steps of trust administration.
Our Toronto trusts lawyers list the various types of trusts
It is critical that we as your Toronto trusts lawyers have an accurate and complete understanding of your current personal and financial situation.
Therefore, our Toronto trusts lawyers probe deeply into your specific personal and family situation, your business holdings, your assets including real estate, your investments, as well as your final wishes and the legacy you wish to leave, to ensure that we recommend and draft the right trust for you.
In Ontario, there are two types of trusts that serve different purposes and have different tax rules:
Testamentary trusts – The terms of this type of trust are typically outlined in a will or by court order in relation to the deceased individual’s estate under Ontario law. Testamentary trusts are created once a person has died.
Inter vivos trusts – Latin for “while still living,” inter vivos trusts are created during the settlor’s lifetime. Importantly, the CRA has established very different tax rules for inter vivos trusts. There are many types of inter vivos trusts:
Common-law partner trusts
Deemed resident trusts
Henson trusts – Special needs trusts (or disability trusts) for family members who will need lifelong financial support, such as minor children or disabled adult children, who are unable to provide for themselves
The CRA has a complete list of the types of trusts available in Canada.
Toronto estate planning lawyers know the importance of planning for administration of digital assets
The Toronto estate planning lawyers at Massey LLP explain that the lack of Ontario legislation over access and disposition of digital assets when someone dies, has made it tricky to direct those you want to handle them – especially if there’s a technicality like forgetting to provide your family the account passwords.
Our Toronto estate planning lawyers know the importance of covering digital legacy issues in estate planning and how challenging it has become. These assets include social media presence, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, PayPal credit, and other non-monetary assets stored or accessible online. Toronto estate planning lawyers at Massey LLP advise that your family must be told what they are, where to find, and how to get into these accounts.
Our Toronto estate planning lawyers have experience with the big U.S. tech companies that refuse to hand over the accounts, which can cause a ripple of problems for the estate – they can even include an online bank account.
In addition, our Toronto estate planning lawyers will organize your online information so that your family can easily access them and handle their disposition according to your wishes.