Planning to Avoid Probate

In Ontario a “probate” is a certificate granted by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to the effect that the Will of a deceased person has been proved and registered in the court and that administration of his/her effects has been granted to the Executor proving the Will.

In some cases there is a requirement for probate as, for example, when transferring land registered under the Land Titles Act. Also, banks and some other financial institutions may insist on having a copy of a probated Willin order to be certain that it is approved by the Court and is not being contested. Since court fees for probating a Will are often quite substantial, avoiding probate in appropriate circumstances has increased in importance.

Planning to avoid probate can include gifting of selected assets before death. This could also be done by simply transferring property into joint ownership with a right of survivorship. An aging parent, whose spouse has died, might consider placing the family home in joint tenancy with a child. Upon decease, the survivor becomes the owner of the property by operation of law. In this situation, the home does not even go through the estate.As an additional benefit, a principal residence can be transferred in this way without tax consequences because here, the capital gain is tax exempt.

Another way to avoid or reduce probate fees is through the use of a joint bank account. While small bank accounts can usually be transferred without a requirement to obtain probate, each bank has its own policy as to limits. To avoid possible problems, saving or chequingdeposit accounts can be held jointly, say by a mother and son or daughter. By arranging a joint bank account, with right of survivorship, if one party dies the other can access the account immediately.

Dual Wills

Where only some of the assets in an estate require probate and joint ownership is not convenient, consideration should be given to the feasibility of making more than one Will. In this situation, a separate Will can be used to deal with assets for which probate is not required and a second Will used for all other assets except those dealt with in the first Will. Probate fees would only be payable on the assets in the second Will and the savings, depending on the value of the estate, could be considerable.

Caveat

​Make sure the person to whom you are contemplating transferring property into joint ownership is financially stable. The downside of this planning technique is that if he/she becomes liable for a large debt, their ownership in the property is in danger. If there is such a possibility, let caution be your watchword!

© The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. You are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained in the context of your own particular circumstances.

Brigitte DioGuardi

B.A., LL.B

Brigitte obtained her Law Degree from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. Upon her return, she qualified for the Bar and was called to the Law Society of Ontario (formerly the Law Society of Upper Canada) in 2002. She was also a member of the Bar of British Columbia and headed up the Vancouver office of DioGuardi Tax Law.  Fluently bilingual in English and French, Brigitte has broad experience in the areas of:

  • Tax Law, Civil Assessment Negotiation and Litigation, Criminal Prosecution Defense, Unpayable Tax Debt Solutions, Audits, Tax Amnesty.
  • Corporate and Commercial Law
  • Real Estate
  • Wills and Estates
  • Insolvency and Bankruptcy

Tax Law

​If you are one of thousands of Canadians who have failed to file taxes for several years the answer maybe to seek amnesty. Be aware that failure to file for more than one year if you owe taxes is a criminal offence and you may be criminally prosecuted.

The CRA Voluntary Disclosure Program allows taxpayers to come forward and obtain immunity from prosecution and most civil penalties, provided certain conditions are met.

We specialize in lawyer-negotiated tax debt settlements and tax amnesties with federal and provincial tax authorities, offering taxpayers a much-needed resource for the resolution of situations that all too often put personal and financial lives at risk. We stand as your protector, defender, and advocate to ensure that you the taxpayer, receive the best treatment possible. 

We offer solutions for tax problems such as:

  • Unreported income
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  • Criminal tax defense

Wills, Estates & Trusts

​We offer the following will, estate and trust services for individuals and business-owners:

  • Wills
  • Preparation of trust agreements
  • Powers of attorney
  • Estate administration
  • Probate
  • Representation in estate driven litigation
  • We currently offer a special time limited package for one will and two powers of attorney (property and personal care) for $295 plus HST

Real Estate

We can assist you with all your real estate needs including:

  • Drafting agreements
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  • Title transfers
  • Leases

Tax Debt Relief

With the coronavirus pandemic leaving many in a precarious and dire financial situation, it is essential that you protect yourself financially. If you have a large, unpayable tax bill, we can help. We act in the best interest of the tax debtor. Unlike us, insolvency trustees represent not only you but your creditors (ie- the tax collector). The more tax you pay, the more trustees earn. Our goal through leveraged negotiations, is to reduce your tax debt.

Please consult our blog post Protecting Your Assets from Creditors for more information.

Business & Tax Planning

If you do not already have a certified financial planner, we can provide one or more highly qualified people who can work closely with us to assist you with such matters as:

  • Resident and non-resident corporate restructuring
  • Optimum use of holding corporations
  • Continuity and succession planning
  • Tax-free transfers
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  • Making interest tax deductible
  • Small business planning

Corporate & Commercial Law

We have represented business clients for the last 50 plus years and have supported their legal requirements on an on-going basis by offering the following services:

  • Incorporations and corporate governance
  • Corporate reorganizations and transactions for the directors and shareholders
  • Negotiation and drafting of agreements, professional corporations, minute book maintenance

Brigitte DioGuardi

B.A., LL.B

Brigitte obtained her Law Degree from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. Upon her return, she qualified for the Bar and was called to the Law Society of Ontario (formerly the Law Society of Upper Canada) in 2002. She was also a member of the Bar of British Columbia and headed up the Vancouver office of DioGuardi Tax Law.  Fluently bilingual in English and French, Brigitte has broad experience in the areas of:

  • Tax Law, Civil Assessment Negotiation and Litigation, Criminal Prosecution Defense, Unpayable Tax Debt Solutions, Audits, Tax Amnesty.
  • Corporate and Commercial Law
  • Real Estate
  • Wills and Estates
  • Insolvency and Bankruptcy

Joyce Bruno

EXECUTIVE LEGAL ASSISTANT

Joyce Bruno has worked as executive legal assistant to Paul Dioguardi for 35 years and continues to offer her expertise and experience to the Dioguardi Law firm. Joyce’s role has evolved over the years and has acquired and developed many skills. She is an invaluable asset in case management and ensures the smooth running of our office.

Paul DioGuardi

B.A., LL.B, Queen’s Counsel

Paul obtained his Law Degree from Queen’s University in 1964.  He is a member of the Bars of Ontario, British Columbia and the Turks and Caicos Islands, a British tax free territory in the West Indies. He has over 50 years of experience and was trained at the Ottawa head offices of Revenue Canada and the Tax Litigation Section at the Department of Justice. Paul has had and continues with an extensive career in various areas of law such as:

  • Tax Law, Civil Assessment Negotiation and Litigation, Criminal Prosecution Defense, Unpayable Tax Debt Solutions, Audits, Tax Amnesty.
  • Corporate and Commercial Law
  • Real Estate
  • Wills and Estates
  • Insolvency and Bankruptcy