Why have a will?
A will is a legal document that details your wishes for how all of your property, whether personal or real, is to be treated after you pass away (called an "estate"), and optionally funeral arrangements. When properly signed and witnessed, a good will provides peace of mind for you and your family, ensuring that there are no disputes or uncertainties about how your property is disposed of, or what your final wishes were.
Without a will, you are deemed to have died intestate, which means all of your property will be disposed of according to government regulations; this is usually a very slow and inefficient process, that will leave your loved ones with far less than they might have.
Of course, a will has to be accepted as valid in the first place in order to achieve these goals.
There are a number of requirements for a will to be valid, and they have to be met to be accepted by the courts (in a process called probate, usually required for estates) and the beneficiaries (those who will inherit the property described in the will). A will written on one's own can be disputed in a number of ways, such as by casting doubt on the writer's capacity (i.e. they were not capable of making decisions on their own, either due to a medical condition or due to emotional, financial, or other pressure from a potential beneficiary).
With a lawyer's help, a will can be both detailed enough and proven to be drafted with the person's true wishes in mind; a lawyer determines that there is no disability or pressure on the will writer (called a testator). A lawyer can also help you to anticipate certain scenarios that could cause a dispute; what if a person named in the will dies before the testator? Who does property go to in that case? What if the person named as executor dies, or refuses to act? A well-drafted will has alternatives for all of these situations, preventing lengthy, stressful, and expensive court battles.
It is also important for a lawyer to draft the will, as they are best informed about both recent changes to legislation and regulations (which free guides often neglect), as well as making certain that the language of the will is unambiguous and clear about the testator's wishes. A lawyer can also advise you on when you should write a new will to avoid changes in your life making it invalid. In addition, lawyers will advise you when there are more complicated issues at hand, such as if some of your property, or your beneficiaries, are in foreign jurisdictions, which may have their own laws conflicting with those of Ontario.
There are other documents that lawyers often prepare alongside wills, called Powers of Attorneys, as well as living wills. These have the same requirements of witnessing and signatures as a will, but deal with somewhat different subject matter, and will be the subject of a future blog post.
A real estate deal is often the largest transaction, whether purchase or sale, many people make in their lives, and issues in the process can give a great deal of financial and emotional stress. Obligations to the other party, to government regulators (such as land transfer taxes), financial institutions, and insurance, make it much more complex than buying and selling of other goods usually is. The process can involve a number of different professionals; realtors, mortgage brokers, home inspectors, tradespeople, tax professionals, and lawyers.
Thankfully, with an experienced lawyer's help, the process can be made much smoother and you can have far more peace of mind up to and after closing. You can make this much easier if a few basic steps are followed.
Whether you are purchasing or selling the property, be aware of the following:
Disclaimer: this information is about entering Canada in normal situations; there are currently a number of restrictions related to the current pandemic (quarantine, test requirements), in addition to the below. These may change quickly and without warning. Visit CBSA, and Transport Canada, websites for the latest up-to-date info.
In ordinary circumstances, Canada welcomes millions of visitors every year, for business, tourism, or transit to another destination. Just as with permanent immigration, however, there are strict IRCC guidelines that have to be followed from an application, to actual entry and time spent in Canada.
Some travelers do not need a visa to enter Canada, as their countries are permitted to use electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). These are non-paper, web-based applications, used by routine and regular travelers who need to enter or leave Canada repeatedly for air travel. Depending on the expiration date of the travelers passport, they may last up to five years before renewal. Note that even these trusted travelers have to satisfy CBSA requirements to be allowed entry (for more details, see this blog post.)
Ordinarily, eTAs and visas are granted for a maximum 6 month stay in Canada at a time, though a longer request may be granted if there is no reason to deny it (and with special exceptions such as super visas, which are a topic for a different post). Passport expiration is an important limitation; IRCC will not grant stays longer than a passport remains valid, which is why it is important to check the date and renew it if necessary.
When examining an application, IRCC examines for admissibility, the purpose of travel, and ties to the home country. (The below are just broad guidelines: speak to a lawyer before making an application!)
This blog details the many legal issues among Luka's practice areas, for a general audience. None of this information is a substitute for legal advice.