+ Why should I have a last will and testament?
Here are some, but not all, possible risks of not having an up to date will:
• Provincial law will dictate how your assets are distributed. If you are in a common law relationship, this should be of particular concern as your common law partner is not considered a beneficiary under provincial law.
• Tax planning opportunities may be lost.
• Additional cost and time delays may be incurred at the expense of your loved ones
• Increased potential for disputes if your wishes were not made clear.
• If you have minor children, your guardianship wishes will not be known.
• If you have minor children, you will not be able to control the age at which they receive assets from your estate
• Probate costs could be minimized with the use of "primary" and "secondary" wills.
+ Do I need a Power of Attorney for property?
You may want to consider a power of attorney for property for many reasons, including these:
• You plan on traveling for an extended period of time, and may need someone to manage your affairs while you are away;
• You plan on traveling during a time when you will need someone to attend to a specific matter on your behalf (such as a property sale);
• You are ill or elderly and unable to attend to your affairs with ease;
• You are concerned about what would happen if you become mentally incompetent in the future, and would like to dictate who will manage your affairs.
+ Do I need a Power of Attorney for personal care?
You may want to consider a power of attorney for personal care for many reasons, including these:
• Personal care can include your health care, medical treatment, diet, housing, clothing, hygiene, and safety;
• You are concerned about what would happen if you become mentally incompetent in the future, and would like to dictate who will manage your affairs;
• You are ill or elderly and unable to attend to your affairs with ease;
• You want to ensure your health is being cared for within the hands of someone you trust instead of appointed by the court.
+ I have entered into an agreement to purchase property. What do I do next?
Here are some common steps when purchasing property:
• Contact your lawyer and advise your realtor and lender of your lawyer’s contact information.
• Determine the amount of mortgage financing you qualify for. Ensure your offer is conditional on financing if you require a mortgage.
• Arrange for a home inspector and other professionals, as required, to view the property and provide an opinion as to its condition. Notify your lawyer of any issues immediately.
• Notify your lawyer when your financing and other conditions have been satisfied.
•Arrange for home insurance, effective as of the date of closing. If you will have a mortgage on the property, your lender should be listed as “loss payee” on the policy. Have your insurer send proof of insurance to your lawyer.
• Contact all utility offices and your security company to set up accounts for your new home and arrange for a meter reading and discontinuance of service at your present location.
•Contact your post office and file a Notice of Change of Address, if applicable.
• Consider if you will require a new or updated Will or Power of Attorney and discuss with your lawyer.
• Discuss the value of title insurance with your lawyer.
• Arrange a meeting with your lawyer a few days before closing to sign all required documentation and provide a certified cheque for the balance due to close the transaction. Remember to bring two pieces of identification to the meeting, one of which must be government issued photo.
• Arrange a final walk through of the home, on the date of closing or the day prior, with your realtor or seller. Notify your lawyer of any issues immediately.
+ What additional costs should I budget for when purchasing my home?
You will need to budget for more than just the purchase price of the property. Typical costs to budget for include your lawyer’s fees, various provincial and municipal fees including document recording fees and a tax certificate fee, fuel and lease adjustments, your share of the year’s property taxes and condominium fees (if applicable), title insurance and land transfer tax. Your lawyer will prepare a draft statement showing amounts paid and owed less mortgage funds and forward to you for your review prior to closing.
+ I have signed an agreement to sell my property. What do I do next?
Here are some common steps when selling property:
• Contact your lawyer to advise him or her of your pending sale. You may wish to retain your lawyer prior to having an accepted offer to ensure title issues, if any, are addressed in advance of your sale. Ensure your lawyer has a copy of the signed Agreement of Purchase and Sale, if one exists, and all other relevant documents.
• Advise your lawyer of your mortgage account numbers so that he or she can request a payout statement from your mortgage lender.
• If there is leased equipment on the property that your buyer is to assume payment for, advise your lawyer of the account numbers. If you are to pay out the lease, forward proof of payment to your lawyer.
• If there are any conditions on the offer that are your responsibility, forward receipts and other documentation to your lawyer upon completion.
• Contact all utility companies and request that they disconnect service as of the closing date and forward the final bills to your new address. Advise Canada Post of your change of address and arrange for movers if necessary.
• Arrange to have your fuel tanks topped up if there will be a fuel adjustment on closing (the buyer will credit you for the cost of a full tank on closing, at current rates), and forward top up slips to your lawyer.
• Arrange a meeting with your lawyer to review and sign all sale documents. Ensure home is vacant and cleaned thoroughly. Advise your lawyer of any issues.
• Cancel your home insurance as of the date of closing. If the transaction does not close as scheduled, advise your insurer that you will need to extend your coverage until the new closing date.
• If applicable, consider revising or preparing a Last Will and Testament and Power of Attorney.
+ How should I prepare my property for closing day?
Generally, items that are attached or affixed to the property are considered to be part of the sale unless otherwise agreed to. If you are unsure as to what items were to be included in the sale, you should consult your lawyer as this may cause an issue on closing. Problems may also arise on closing if the property is not vacant, is not properly cleaned, or if damages have occurred since the buyer viewed the property.
+ What is title insurance?
Title Insurance is an insurance policy issued to an owner or lender which assures the condition of the title to the home at the time of the purchase or loan. The policy is issued to you and your lender for a small one-time fee and will serve as protection to you for as long as you own your home (and sometimes longer).
Typical examples of the coverage provided by Title Insurance:
• An error in the land registry records or City records results in an unknown mortgage or work order against your property. Your title insurance company will pay out or discharge this unknown defect;
• A neighbour claims that he owns three feet of the property you just purchased. Your title insurance company will resolve the issue through payment to you or your neighbour or may hire a Lawyer to defend against the neighbour’s claim (at the insurer’s expense).
One of the best known benefits of title insurance is the coverage afforded an owner or lender against title defects which a current plan of survey would have shown. Although a title policy does not replace the information you or your lawyer would receive from an up-to-date survey (the location of boundaries, fences, buildings, pools, additions, decks, sheds, etc.), it continues to be a less expensive closing alternative to completing a purchase and/or loan transaction. Depending upon a purchaser’s intentions to improve the property after closing, a current plan of survey may still be necessary.