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Choosing an Executor for Your Will: Top 5 Things to Consider

By Estates, Power of Attorney, Wills

Creating a will is a bit like planning a neighbourhood gathering — you’re figuring out who gets what (picture the potluck dishes) and ensuring things run smoothly. And just like you’ need a coordinator for the party, you need to pick an executor for your will.

Your executor is like the captain of your post-life team, steering your affairs in the direction you wish. So, let’s stroll together through the top 5 things to consider when choosing your own will executor.

1. Trustworthiness

Just like you wouldn’t hand your house keys to someone you don’t trust, you shouldn’t select an executor you don’t have faith in. After all, they’ll be taking care of distributing your assets according to your wishes. Make sure the person you select is known for their integrity and honesty.

2. Organizational Skills

Handling a will involves a lot of paperwork and deadlines. Your chosen executor should be someone who’s good with details, timelines, and, let’s face it, a bit of bureaucracy.

3. Communication Skills

You’d want someone who knows how to diplomatically deal with Uncle Bob arguing over your famous lemon pie recipe, right? Much in the same way, your executor should bravely and tactfully handle any family conflicts that might pop up.

4. Availability and Location

Consider choosing an executor who is relatively local to you. This is very much like choosing a neighbour to water your plants while you’re gone. Having someone close-by can make the process smoother and faster, since they’ll easily attend to necessary paperwork and meetings. If you’re considering someone who lives outside of Manitoba, talk to us about that – there may be considerations ranging from the practical to the expensive (from a tax standpoint) that we’ll want to talk about.

5. Professional Assistance

Lastly, know that your executor can hire professionals to help, like us, your friendly neighbourhood lawyers. Any fees for legal assistance come out of the estate, not your executor’s pocket.

 

Choosing an executor is a critical step in creating your will. It’s all about making sure someone you trust has got things under control, just like the trustworthy neighbour you’d leave a spare key with. Remember, at Wolseley Law, we’re here to help navigate these decisions with you. Come and chat with us about your options.

Crafting a Will in Manitoba: A Step-by-Step Walkthrough

By Estates, Power of Attorney, Wills

We get it, the thought of sitting down to craft a will isn’t exactly a walk in the park. But when it comes to safeguarding the future of your loved ones and your hard-earned assets, it’s absolutely worth it.

Allow us to guide you through the steps to creating a will in Manitoba – we promise, it’s less complicated than you think!

Step 1: Get Started (Don’t worry, we’re here with you!)

First things first, take a deep breath. Understand that you’re taking a crucial step towards ensuring security for your loved ones. Now grab a pen, some paper, and let’s gather a list mentioning all your assets (like your house, car, savings, investments) and personal items of real or sentimental value (items of jewellery, art, or even your well-cared-for houseplants!). We’ll send you an intake form to start thinking about these things, if you’d like.

Step 2: Choose the Beneficiaries

Next, think about who you want to pass these assets onto. These folks are known as your beneficiaries. They can be anyone you wish – your kids, other family members, friends, even a good cause that you feel deeply about.

Step 3: Name Your Executor

Now, choose a trusty person to carry out the terms of your will. This is your executor, (kind of like that reliable friend you’d nominate to water your plants while you’re away). This should ideally be someone you trust, who’s organized and impartial. See our hints on choosing an executor, here.

Step 4: Guardianship Decisions

If you have children under 18, it’s crucial to think about who you’d like to take on guardianship duties should something happen to you. If you have kids this is likely the main reason you’re making a will, so this decision needs careful thought and plenty of discussions with potential guardians.

Step 5: Create the Will

Ready to get going? Great! We’ll meet with you to take instructions from you regarding what you might want in your will. We’ll have lots of questions for you, but if you’ve done a little light prep work we won’t be asking anything that you won’t already know the answer to. It’s a conversation, not a quiz!

Step 6: Sign and Witness

In order for a will to be legally valid in Canada, it must be signed in the presence of two adult witnesses, who aren’t beneficiaries or the spouse of a beneficiary. Typically that’s two people from our office who are there to make sure that the witnessing complies with the law around wills.

Step 7: Keep it Safe

Lastly, we’ll send you home with your will. Find a safe and secure place to store your will where your executor can access it when needed. Make sure to tell your executor where you’ve kept it. This is often just a secure spot in your house.

And voila! You’ve successfully crafted a will. Remember, setting up a solid will is all about making things as easy as possible for your family and friends – let us help make that process a little easier for you.

Wolseley Law is moving

By News

Effective July 1, 2023 Wolseley Law will be moving to 120 Sherbrook Street, Winnipeg, MB  R3C 2B4

We are very excited to move into a space that will take Wolseley Law’s already loved comfortable, community feel and place it in a restored old Wolseley house, right in the middle of the exciting Sherbrook Street strip.

If you have an appointment with Wolseley Law LLP after July 1, please ensure that you are coming to our new space.

We are located right on the Sherbrook bike path, across the street from many transit options, and with plenty of free parking on Sherbrook Street 24/7 (although please ensure that you mind the signs on weekdays 7:00am – 9:00am).

We look forward to welcoming you into our new space!

Your Family Pet in Separation or Divorce: What about Rover?!

By Family law, Pets

Pets are part of the family! If you have a family pet, you can appreciate just how important they are in your life and your children’s lives. If you’re going through separation or divorce, then it’s likely that you’ll need to consider what will happen to your pet(s). In this article we’ll look at how we deal with the family pet in separation or divorce, and steps that you can take to ensure that your wishes regarding your pet are fulfilled.

Ownership

Canadian law views pets as property – just like an armchair, a vehicle, or a computer. This means they are subject to the same rules of property division upon a relationship breakdown. Therefore, The key issue to be determined by a judge is to identify which spouse owns the pet. This means considering who paid for the pet, and who pays for the majority of expenses. Or, if the pet was acquired before the relationship, this will be strong evidence to show that the pet will be excluded from family property and should remain with the spouse who originally purchased the pet.  It is also possible for a court to decide that a pet is jointly owned. This may mean that the court will order that one party buys the other party out, or if there are multiple pets, an order that each party keeps a pet.

However, the treatment of pets in the law does not appreciate the deep bonds that people build with their pets, and a property ownership approach leaves many pet owners feeling unsatisfied. In recent years, some provinces have shifted towards more holistic considerations, especially given that Covid-19 saw an upward shift in pet ownership. For instance, in British Columbia, judges are increasingly likely to consider what is in the best interest of the pet, such as who can dedicate more time to the pet, and whether the pet is bonded with another animal or human. There have also been proposed amendments to the British Columbia Family Law Act, that would consider more of the “relational aspects” of animals in the family. In Ontario, case law has also evolved, with judges looking at who has spent more time with the pet, including who takes the dog for walks, cares for the pet, buys the food, and accompanies the pet on vet visits. In some cases, Judges in Ontario have also considered the children’s attachment to a pet, and determined the pet schedule around where the kids are, whether that means the pet stays in one household, or changes households with the custody schedule. Decisions from other provinces can be persuasive considerations for judges here in Manitoba.

How can I protect my rights regarding the family pet?

While the law is shifting in a paw-sitive direction,  it remains that pets are property. Therefore, keeping documentation that can prove ownership and ongoing payments towards the pet’s care is very important. This includes things like the ownership papers, information on the pet license, vet bills, and bank statements.

It is also worth considering creating a “pet-nup”, detailing what contributions have been made for the pet and what will happen with the pet upon a relationship breakdown. These details can be included in a written cohabitation or prenuptial agreement.

If there is no cohabitation or prenuptial agreement already in place prior to separation, one of the simplest, and most common ways to ensure your interests are protected is through a written separation agreement. This will also help to avoid lengthy and costly court battles over the family pet in the future. These agreements will typically include things like visitation schedules, rules outlining how costs will be shared, and obligations regarding nutrition and health decisions.

If you are facing an immediate dilemma regarding the removal of your beloved pet from your care, there may also be other immediate relief available to you as well, such as an interim order of possession or a legal or equitable claim of ownership.

Whether you are simply looking to protect yourself in case of a future breakup, or are in the process of a separation, our family team is here to help you ensure that your beloved pet stays a part of your life!

A cat and dog snuggling at home

Legal Agreements Are Not Just For Separation: Cohabs, Prenups, Spousal Agreements

By Family law

If you’re in a relationship,  there’s a good chance that you’ve at least thought about getting a prenup or cohabitation agreement. After all, if you’ve made it to the point where you’re thinking about moving in together or getting married, then it’s likely that your future together is important to both of you. And while some couples may choose not to put their relationship on paper, having a legal agreement can make things easier if something goes wrong later on down the road. It’s also worth noting that any legal agreements between partners need not be limited solely to separation agreements and prenups—there are plenty of other types of agreements out there!

Cohabitation agreements are a way to protect your rights in the event of a breakup if you and your partner are living together. Cohabitation agreements can cover a range of issues, including property, debt and support. In Manitoba, you are considered common-law if you have been living together for three years or one year if you have a child together. In Manitoba, if a common-law couple separates, each partner is entitled to half of the family property, if there is not an agreement saying otherwise.

If you’re in a relationship and plan to get married, prenups can be an excellent way to protect your assets. A prenup is not just for the rich and famous!

If one partner has more money than another, or if one partner brings more property into the marriage than another does (such as an inheritance), then having this information written down before tying the knot may help avoid future misunderstandings or disagreements over who owns what if you get divorced. It can also help avoid a contentious legal battle if divorce occurs, because you’ve already agreed to certain things.

If you aren’t sure if an agreement of this kind is right for you, or you’re not sure what you would include, it’s always best to speak to a lawyer who is experienced in these issues. At Wolseley Law, we offer flat rates for these types of agreements. To get more information, or to schedule a consult with one of our lawyers to discuss it, please contact our office.

Dealing with pets in your will and estate

By Estates, Pets, Power of Attorney, Wills

You love your pet, and you want to make sure that he or she is taken care of after you’re gone. You may not know how to do this, but don’t worry: It’s easier than you think! In this article, I’ll cover the basics of estate planning for pets and how it can help the dog, cat, iguana or whoever you have in your life continue to be a good boy even after you can’t help them anymore. Because who’s a good boy? Your pet’s a good boy.

Pets are part of the family, so they should be protected and provided for in your estate plan along with other loved ones and assets

Pets are part of the family, and they should be protected and provided for in your estate plan along with other loved ones and assets. Pets are not just property, they are family members. They have feelings and emotions that can suffer when they lose their owner or guardian. In some cases, these animals have been with an individual longer than any human friend! They deserve to be included in your will as well as being cared for by someone who will love them just as much as you did when alive (or even more).

Plan early.

It’s never too early to start thinking about what will happen to your pets after you pass away.

However, if you wait too long, it may be too late. You need to make sure that your wishes are known by those who will be responsible for carrying them out.

Consider hiring a lawyer to help you create an estate plan.

If you have pets, it is important to have a plan in place for them. A lawyer can help you create a will and make sure that the right people are named as executor(s), trustee(s), successor trustee(s), power of attorney and/or guardian(s). They also know how best to deal with pets in these documents.

A good estate planning lawyer will ask questions about your pet’s needs so they know what type of caretaker would be best suited for them; many lawyers have connections with local shelters that specialize in helping animals find new homes when their owners pass away or become unable to care for them anymore

Although courts see pets as property, choose a guardian for your pet.

Although the courts see pets as property, you should choose a guardian for your pet. A guardian can be a family member, friend or neighbor. Alternatively, it could be a professional caregiver who specializes in taking care of animals.

If possible, appoint two people as co-guardians so there’s someone who can step in if something happens to one person before the other dies or becomes incapacitated themselves (elderly parents often worry about this).

Provide for your pet in your will and other legal documents.

If you have a pet, it’s important to think about how they’ll be cared for after your death. If a family member or friend isn’t willing or able to take on the responsibility of caring for your pet, consider other options such as finding them a new home with someone who is able to do so. Another option is providing money in your will that allows them to be taken care of by an animal shelter or rescue group until they are adopted into their new home.

Pets can be the subject of gifts for their care, or even trusts that allow funds to be paid out every year that they survive you in order to ensure continual care. The options for choosing how to provide for your pets are nearly limitless.

Arrange for care while you’re alive, if possible.

If you have a pet and are experiencing a move into a personal care facility, it may be valuable to consider if an earlier move for your pet is a better option. This may help ease your pet’s transition into its new home, and still allow you to visit, or be visited by your pet, from time to time.

You should also make sure that any medical issues are taken care of before arranging for someone else to take over as caregiver: ensure that the animal has had all its vaccinations (and check back periodically), and bring it in for regular checkups from time-to-time so that any potential problems can be caught early on and treated accordingly by a veterinarian.

Conclusion

Pets are a big part of our lives, and they deserve to be taken care of. They’re also part of your estate and will, so it’s important to plan properly for them. If you don’t want to leave money or property directly to your pet, consider naming someone else as guardian who can take care of them in the event of your death or incapacity. This person should be someone who loves and cares about your good pup or kitten or other friend as much as you do and who is willing to give them all the love that they deserve.