Archive for October, 2017

7 Crucial Times You Need To Update Your Will

7 Crucial Times You Need To Update Your Will

When you have a will you are already the type of person who knows it’s never too early plan for the future.

You know that an accident might happen at any time. You know that unless you’re prepared, your loved ones may be left struggling to deal with your estate.

That’s why you got a will.

However, once a will is created, it’s not necessarily done for good.

Things change.

Your family may have changed. People may have passed away or moved on from your life.

Or your financial situation may have evolved.

We recommend that you review your will every three to five years.  If things in your life have changed, it may be a good time to update your will.

Here are 7 reasons why you should consider updating your will.

1. You’ve Had Children

Becoming a parent is one of the main reasons why people get a will in the first place.

A will can allow you to name a guardian for your children and help you provide for them financially if something happens to you.

If you wrote your will before becoming a parent, or if your family has grown to include more children, you should definitely consider updating your will.

Doing this will ensure that everyone is taken care of and that your estate is divided equally among your children.

2. You’ve Had Grandchildren

The arrival of a new grandchild is rarely met with the thought of immediate succession planning, but it’s important that you update your will whenever this happy event happens.

Many people like help grandchildren with the cost of education or buying a first home. Updating your will allows that each of your family is taken care of when you pass away. 

3. Someone In Your Family Passed Away

When you lose someone, especially an executor or a beneficiary, it’s time to update your will.

If your spouse passes away, you may need to update your will to reflect this. This change will ensure that you control how your estate gets divided among all the other beneficiaries to your will.  You should also review your previous “alternate” plans are now consistent with what you wish to be your primary plan.

4. You’re Separating And/Or Getting A Divorce

Without changing your will, you can subject your family to legal battles with an old spouse who is still your executor or beneficiary. This can make an already difficult time very stressful.

If you are in this situation, update your will immediately.

5. Changes To Your Executor

Wills usually name an executor who is responsible for carrying out the instructions laid out in the will.

This person is in charge of completing an inventory and valuation of all assets and debts. They also gather the names and addresses of all beneficiaries and next-of-kin, and wrap up your personal matters (among many others).

This person plays a central role in ensuring that your wishes are respected once you pass away. It’s important to make sure that they are still up for the task.

There are a number of reasons why you may need to update your will executor, including:

  • They have passed away.
  • They moved to a different country.
  • Your relationship has changed and it’s no longer appropriate.
  • Someone else is a better choice.

6. Your Financial Situation Has Changed

Changes in your financial situation are another good reason to update your will.

Regardless of whether these changes are positive or negative, they affect the way in which you want to divide your estate.

Positive changes may motivate you to include more people in your will, while negative changes may push you to prioritize.  

7. A Law Has Changed

Laws change all the time, and they may affect the validity of your will.

For example, a few ago the B.C. legislature amended the B.C. Wills, Estates and Succession Act (WESA), creating major changes in the ways in which wills were drafted and executed.

These changes may render your will invalid or alter the way it is interpreted. If your will is over two years old, you may need to have it updated.

Do You Need to Update Your Will?

If you think that it is time to update your will or want to find out how to proceed, speak to a BC Notary or a lawyer.

As you revise your succession plans, it’s important to get the right help to make sure that your new will meets all legal requirements.

BC Notaries and lawyers can also help you make sure that the will reflects exactly what you want to happen if something happens to you.

Get in touch if you have questions or need help with your will.

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3 Reasons Smart Baby Boomers Get A Representation Agreement

3 Reasons Smart Baby Boomers Get A Representation Agreement

Representation Agreements let you decide in advance who can make health decisions for you in the event you can’t make them yourself.

The golden years offer very different opportunities then they have in the past.

Many Boomers live long lives and are very active. And while the spirit may still feel young, the body, unfortunately, doesn’t always get the memo.

As people grow older, the chances of having accidents or suffering serious health issues grow significantly.

According to a report by the Canadian Medical Association, nearly three-quarters of Canadians over 65 have at least one chronic health condition. The report also states that 62% of hospitalizations for Boomers are due to unexpected falls.

As you get older you need to be ready for the very real possibility that something could happen. A situation may arise leaving you incapacitated and unable to make health decisions for yourself. 

What is a Representation Agreement?

A Representation Agreement is a legal document that allows a person (or a group of people) to make personal care and health decisions for someone else.

This allows someone you trust to manage your affairs if you are incapacitated and unable to make your own decisions due to illness, injury, or disability.

If you aren’t sure whether or not you need a Representation Agreement, here’s 3 great reasons…

1. You Choose The Person (Or People) To Represent You

Without a Representation Agreement, a doctor or healthcare provider will choose your Temporary Substitute Decision Maker (TSDM) if you can’t make your own decisions.

This person is selected based on the Health Care Consent Act. Your spouse would be the first choice, followed by one of your children.

Your TSDM is required by law to make decisions based on your best interests. However, this person may not necessarily be the person you want, or may not know what type of care or treatment you would prefer.

The Role of a Representative

A Representation Agreement allows you to choose in advance who you want to represent you. The only people who can’t be appointed as representatives are paid caregivers.

Most people chose a spouse, partner, friend or family member in their representation agreement. 

The representative’s main responsibility is to assist a person to make a decision for themselves. This means that before making any decision, the representative is legally obligated to try to determine your current wishes.

If you are completely incapacitated and your current wishes cannot be determined, then your representative will follow what has been outlined in your Representation Agreement.

As a last resort, the representative will make a decision based on what they think is in your best interest while consistent with your values.

2. You Have Control Of The Important Decisions

A Representation Agreement will allow you to dictate your specific wishes regarding your physical, emotional and personal needs. These include:

  • Advocating for you
  • Giving or withholding consent for medical treatments
  • Where you will live (and with whom)
  • Whether to admit or discharge you from a care facility
  • Planning of support and services
  • Who has visitation rights
  • Care staff management
  • Spiritual matters
  • Whether you want to refuse CPR or have a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)
  • End of life decision making
  • Diet and grooming
  • Care of pets
  • Participation in activities and exercise

Peace of mind

Without a Representation Agreement, your TSDM is unable to make any of these decisions on your behalf. Their power is limited to immediate minor and major healthcare decisions such as surgeries and routine treatments.

With a Representation Agreement, you have the peace of mind that your wishes and beliefs will be carried out if you are incapacitated.

3. It’s Less Stress For Loved Ones

When someone you love experiences a serious health issue it’s stressful, and depending on the severity, often heartbreaking. The last thing anyone needs is additional stress during this time.

The benefit in organizing a Representation Agreement in advance is that you have made a plan, selected the right person (or people) for the task and discussed it with them prior to the document being signed.

In the unfortunate event that something does happen that requires the Representation Agreement to take effect, your loved ones are adequately prepared.

You Are Prepared

Types of Representation Agreements

There are two types of Representation Agreements:

Standard Powers (Section 7)

A Section 7 Representation Agreement allows a chosen representative to take control over minor and major health care, personal care, legal affairs and routine financial affairs.

Someone can sign this type of Representation Agreement even if they cannot manage their own affairs or make decisions independently, which is why it’s purposefully limited.

It does not hand over responsibility for larger decisions regarding finance and end of life options.

A Section 7 Agreement requires a lesser degree of mental capacity when signing and may be appropriate for people with diminished capacity who need day to day help.

Enhanced Powers (Section 9)

Section 9 Representation Agreements are much broader in scope and are signed before there is any question regarding a person’s mental capability or competency.

These agreements are comprehensive and grant representative powers regarding all health matters, including end of life decision making.

The 2 Types of Representation Agreements

Next Steps

The important things to consider in moving forward are who you would want to name as your decision maker(s).  You may name an alternate should the person you choose be unable to act when called upon.  Your Notary can help guide you, discuss the process and answer questions when we meet.

To find out more including information about our process and receiving a quote for us to provide this service; please call or email us.  We are happy to assist you directly or to provide a referral for a notary or lawyer in your area.

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First Time Homebuyers Guide to Real Estate Closing Costs

The First Time Homebuyer’s Guide to Real Estate Purchase Closing Costs In Vancouver

Buying your first house is an exciting (and sometimes nerve-wracking) time.

When you’ve never purchased property before, you might be surprised when you find out about some of the costs associated with closing a deal.

Budgeting for these costs is important because you’ll be required to show proof you have the funds to cover your downpayment and closing costs to secure your mortgage.

This guide will help save you from being surprised by unexpected closing costs.

1. Mortgage Costs

Mortgage Costs

Mortgage Application Fee

If you’re applying for a mortgage, your bank or lender may also charge a mortgage application fee, though usually only with private rather than institutional lenders.  Keep this in mind when you are shopping around for mortgages.

BC HOME Partnership Program

When you are borrowing a portion of your down payment through the BC Home Owner Mortgage and Equity (HOME) Partnership Program, there will be additional fees of $560  for their lawyer fees to complete the loan.

Thankfully this isn’t something that you have to pay upfront, it is added to your loan.

Mortgage Default Insurance

If you’re taking out a mortgage for over 80% of the appraised value of the house, you will also have to take out a mortgage default insurance. Here is a link to the premium calculator for Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC).

This ensures that the bank will not lose any money if you cannot make your mortgage payments and the value of your home is not sufficient to repay your debt.

Appraisal Fee

If the bank requires an appraisal of the home before approving your loan, you will probably have to pay the appraiser’s fee.

Survey Fee

Property boundaries and compliance cannot usually be determined without an up to date Survey Certificate.  A survey is prepared by a Land Surveyor and the cost varies depending on the region.  Your bank may also require that you present a survey certificate that shows exactly where the boundaries of the property are and where the buildings fall within them.

If the previous owners can’t provide this certificate, you’ll have to pay for the surveyor’s fee.

Title Insurance

Many lenders require title insurance before they will advance mortgage funds.

Title Insurance may insure the Lender and the Owner in the event of defects in title that are not readily apparent.  If you wish to have further information on Title Insurance, please contact my office and I will give you the information to contact a title insurance provider so that you may discuss the limits of coverage with them.

2. Government Taxes

Government Fees

Property Transfer Tax

In B.C., the provincial government collects a property transfer tax that must be paid before any home can be legally transferred to a new owner.

The Property Transfer Tax (PTT) is a tax of 1% on the first $200,000, 2% on the value up to $2,000,000 and 3% of the remaining value of the purchase price.

Some buyers (including qualified first-time buyers) may be exempt from this tax.

Property Tax and Municipal Utilities

This cost catches many people by surprise.

If the current owners have already paid the city in full for the house’s yearly property tax (and utilities if billed separately), then you will have to reimburse them for your share of the year’s taxes.

GST

If the home you are purchasing is newly constructed or substantially renovated, you may have to pay 5% of the purchasing price on GST. However, there are some rebates available, depending on the value of the home.

Foreign Buyer’s Property Tax

In B.C., the government has introduced an additional 15% property transfer tax on foreign nationals, corporations, and trusts that are buying in Metro Vancouver.

The tax does not apply to Canadian citizens or permanent residents or foreigners living in Canada on a work permit.

3. Other Fees

Other Fees

Home Inspection Fees

While it’s not necessary to have a home inspection, it’s a good investment to make sure you don’t unknowingly become responsible for any major defects of the property.

Legal Closing Fees

During the purchase process, you will need to hire notary public or a lawyer that will review the contract and title; prepare documentation necessary for the transaction, handle the exchange of funds and register the application to transfer ownership of the property as well as secure the new mortgage. They will charge a fee for their services and disbursements for due diligence requirements.  Fees vary from office to office, but are fairly consistent as there is competition is providing this service.  You will hear the term “Conveyance” or “Conveyancing” which refers to this process and loosely means to convey legal title of the property from Seller to Buyer.

Land Title Registration Fee

Whenever a title is registered with B.C. Land and Survey, a small fee must be paid. Normally (but not always) this fee is paid for by the lawyer or notary public and included as a disbursement on their accounts.

Utility Bills

You may be required to reimburse the seller for any utilities (water, sewerage, garbage, recycling, drainage) paid to the city in advance.

Strata Fees

Check with the Strata to find out when your fees are due as you may have to pay them soon after you move in.

General moving costs and “Move In” Fees.

Moving house costs money. Whether you hire a moving company, or hire a truck and move yourself, you are going to have out of pocket expenses.  Many Condominiums in Vancouver also have “Move In” fees.  Your notary or lawyer will generally pay these on your behalf.

You may also be required to pay for connecting your new utilities in your new home.

Got more questions?

If you have any questions regarding closing costs or need assistance with your Real Estate transfer, we can help.

Contact our office for further information, for a quote on your transaction and to make an appointment for your real estate closing.

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