How about devoting more time to planning your assets than planning a vacation? Can’t think of a trusted law firm? The lawyers at MacMillan Tucker & Mackay can help you with wills and estate planning in Surrey, BC. We strive to relieve the stress of estate planning and help our clients with will preparation, property transfers, business succession planning, power of attorney, representation agreements and more. Our lawyers will ensure that your assets are handled in the way that you intend them to be!
Go through the below articles and learn about the ways you can protect your future.
IT’S THE LAW – By George Gunnink
What would you do if you were the judge? Judges decide the facts based on evidence put before them, and then apply the law. Here is a fact pattern. How would you decide who was at fault? Fact patterns similar to this one are often presented in court and assessed by judges. Test your judgment!
Nothing Can Be Said To Be Certain, Except Death and Taxes
Planner Polly did not want her estate to have to pay probate fees (tax) when she passed away. So, she did what many do to avoid these fees: she added her son, Oblivious Ollie, as a joint tenant on title to her home. At the same time, Polly did a new will, which included a statement confirming that she intended to add Ollie as an owner of her assets with the intention that those assets would belong to him upon her death. Ollie had no clue any of this was going on. A couple of years later, Ollie and his business were sued. Realizing that he was going to lose that fight, he consented to judgment in favor of CorpGiant. He first discovered that he was on title to Polly’s home when CorpGiant registered that judgment against Ollie’s interest in the home. Polly was dismayed, and very quickly changed her Will to say that she had decided to leave Ollie out of her Will as he had too many personal debts. Polly also applied to the courts to ask them to rule that she had not intended to give Ollie a beneficial interest in her home, and that therefore CorpGiant should have no judgment against it. CorpGiant objected, based on the Land Title Act, which allows persons searching the Land Title Registry to rely on the Registry to determine ownership of land. Ollie did not respond to Polly’s application.
If You Were The Judge, How Would You Decide?
The court ruled against Polly and found that she had intended to gift the ½ interest in her home to Ollie. The case law around these transfers required the court to prefer the evidence at the time that the transfer was made, rather than Polly’s subsequent statement of intention. The judge also found that Polly’s gift to Ollie had been fully delivered to his possession, and that he had not refused the gift when he learned that it had been made to him. CorpGiant’s judgment against title also remained, consistent with upholding the certainty and reliability of our title registration system here in British Columbia.
This case is a good warning of the potential folly of adding someone to your assets to avoid paying tax. Clearly, these transfers should only be made in limited circumstances, and only after considering all the implications of doing so.
George Gunnink is a lawyer who practices in Cloverdale with the firm MacMillan Tucker & Mackay at 5690 – 176A Street, Cloverdale (Surrey), B.C. At MacMillan Tucker & Mackay, lawyers are available to answer questions about wills and estates, ICBC claims, personal injury, professional negligence, family matters and other issues. If you require legal assistance, please call (604) 574-7431 to book an appointment.