How to Properly Document a Transfer into Joint Tenancy

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I have preached caution about the use of joint tenancies as an estate-planning tool to transfer wealth often from a parent to a child, or sometimes to some other relative or friend. One of the first blog posts I wrote back in September, 2005, was entitled “Six Potential Pitfalls Parents Should Consider Before Transferring Real Estate Into a Joint Tenancy with Their Children.” There are in fact more than six, and I won’t repeat them all here. Instead I want to focus on how to properly document a transfer into a joint tenancy when the transfer is done as part of an estate plan.

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Supreme Court of Canada Overturns B.C. Court of Appeal Decision in S.A. v. Metro Vancouver Housing Corp

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The Supreme Court of Canada, in S.A. v. Metro Vancouver Housing Corp., 2019 SCC 4, overturned the decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal, a decision I wrote about here. This case deals with the use of a discretionary trust to provide benefits for a person with disabilities without jeopardising other benefits that are means tested. These trusts are sometimes referred to as Henson Trusts, and in many provinces, including British Columbia, are an effective way of preserving the person’s provincial disability benefits.

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Interest on Legacies

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In British Columbia, if a legacy is not paid within one-year of the will-maker’s death, the beneficiary is entitled to interest at a rate of 5% per year from the first anniversary of the date of death. This rule applies unless the will provides that no interest is payable or provides for a different rate. In my experience, most will-makers do not address this issue in their wills.

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Moore v Sweet

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On November 23, 2018, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in Moore v. Sweet, 2018 SCC 52, in which the majority imposed a remedial constructive trust on the proceeds of a life insurance policy in favour of the life insured’s former spouse. The life insured, and owner of the policy, Lawrence Anthony Moore, had orally agreed with his former spouse, Michelle Constance Moore, that he would retain her as the beneficiary of his life insurance policy, if she paid the insurance premiums. She did so, paying approximately $7,000 in premiums after her separation from Mr. Moore. He broke his promise to her, by appointing his new common-law spouse, Risa Lorraine Sweet, as the irrevocable beneficiary. The policy paid out $250,000. At death, Mr. Moore’s estate was insolvent.

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Panda Estate

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I wrote about the Ontario decision in Re Milne Estate, in which Mr. Justice Dunphy refused to grant probate in respect of two wills on the grounds that in his view they were void for uncertainty of subject matter. A husband and wife each made two wills, one intended to deal with those assets for which an estate grant was required, and the other for which no grant would be required for the estate trustee to deal with the assets.
I described this two-will strategy to reduce probate as follows:

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Re Milne Estate

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I suspect that a recent decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice is causing some consternation among the Ontario estate planning bar. In Re Milne Estate, 2018 ONSC 4174, the Court held that a will was void for uncertainty of subject matter and could not be admitted to probate. The effect of the decision was to frustrate a two-will estate planning strategy to minimize probate fees. In understand that the decision is under the appeal, and I would argue that the reasoning is fundamentally flawed. But it does highlight the risks of using a multiple-will strategy to reduce probate fees. Continue reading “Re Milne Estate” »

Bare Trustee Found to be “Particular Individual” under the Excise Tax Act: New Housing Rebate Denied

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 Her Majesty the Queen v. Cheema, 2018 FCA 45 (CanLII)

Often home buyers need to rely on a guarantor in order to allow them to qualify for the mortgage. In such cases, a lender often requires the guarantor to be registered as an owner of the property; even if the parties agree that the purchasers are the sole beneficial owners of the property. In this context, the guarantor, or bare trustee, holds no beneficial interest in the property although they are a registered owner of the property. Continue reading “Bare Trustee Found to be “Particular Individual” under the Excise Tax Act: New Housing Rebate Denied” »

Strata Wins $54,000 in Fines Against Owner

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Strata Corporations can issue fines when an owner breaches the bylaws. At $200 an occurrence and a further $200/week for an ongoing contravention, the fines can add up fairly quickly. In the case of the Owners, Strata Plan KAS 3162 v Staerkle, 2018 BCSC 1290, the fines were in excess of $50,000.00, and the Court ordered the owner to pay the fines. Continue reading “Strata Wins $54,000 in Fines Against Owner” »

Unreasonable Noise Levels in Strata Living

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Unreasonable noise can, depending on the circumstances, amount to nuisance. In law, a party that causes a nuisance, can be liable for somewhat nominal (depending on the circumstances) damages.

The case of Chen v The Owners, Strata Plan NW 2265, 2017 BCCRT 113, was a dispute as to whether the common property hot tub, Continue reading “Unreasonable Noise Levels in Strata Living” »

Sharma v Sharma

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Prem Lata Sharma is suing her sisters Raj Rani Sharma and Simmi Sharma. She is seeking to vary their mother Rama Rani Sharma’s will, pursuant to which she was disinherited, and she is also asking the court to declare that they hold title to their mother’s house in trust for the estate. Raj Rani Sharma is both a beneficiary and also the executor of the will. Their mother had gratuitously transferred the house into a joint tenancy with them, and their position is that they received the house by right-of-survivorship. Continue reading “Sharma v Sharma” »

Court of Appeal Upholds Decision in Sato v. Sato

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In Sato v. Sato, 2018 BCCA 287, the British Columbia Court of Appeal upheld Mr. Justice Funt’s decision that Hiroyuki Rex Sato was domiciled in British Columbia when he married Makiko Sato on April 30, 2013, although he was living and working in Luxemburg at the time and had not lived in British Columbia since 1999. Continue reading “Court of Appeal Upholds Decision in Sato v. Sato” »

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