Ridout Barron


Calgary Real Estate, Wills and Estates, and Business Law Blog

How can a lawyer help with drafting a will?

With online options of do-it-yourself estate planning, some people in Alberta might choose this low-cost option instead of paying for the services of an experienced lawyer. However, drafting a do-it-yourself will could have an adverse and costly impact on their estates. The outcome might lead to unintended beneficiaries receiving the assets that were meant to be inherited by others.

Even if the assets go to intended beneficiaries, the legal estate costs can run into thousands of dollars, and in some circumstances, litigation can tie up estate assets for years. Those who utilize the services of lawyers for this critical task find that legal counsel will consider their unique circumstances and understand their needs. If they explain their wishes, the lawyer can make sure those wishes are carried out appropriately.

Real estate fraud catches many Alberta residents unawares

Buying, or renting a condominium or home in Alberta is typically an exciting experience, but unanticipated pitfalls exist. Sadly, real estate fraud is becoming more and more prevalent, and being aware of the tricks scammers use might prevent such incidents. Consumers must look out for red flags that might indicate title fraud, mortgage fraud and online property sale or rental scams.

Title fraud involves one person stealing the identity of the titleholder of the property and assuming ownership of it. This can be done by mailbox theft, computer hacking or dumpster diving, and the fraudster will then use the registered owner's personal information to transfer ownership of the property to him or herself, or even to sell it to another unsuspecting person. It can also be used to register a new mortgage in the name of the identity thief, who will disappear with the money and leave the real property owner to pay the mortgage.

Business and commercial Law: Recovery of scam damages

Every business in Alberta, regardless of its size, is vulnerable when it comes to scams. For this reason, it is essential for business owners to remain alert and keep their eyes open for any red flags that could prevent the typical damages caused by business scams. Fortunately, lawyers who focus on business and commercial law issues can provide valuable advice related to these issues.

The directory scam is a typical way in which fraudsters get unsuspecting businesses to give them money. This scam works better with bigger firms that have dedicated accounting departments. The fraudster will invite the company to list or advertise online or in the printed media, and then confirm the business details like the address via the telephone. The next step would be sending a bill for payment. Targeting multiple businesses will earn the fraudsters payments for services never rendered from many unsuspecting accounting clerks.

Establishing wills and estates is crucial for business owners

Although most business owners in Alberta understand that legacy planning is an integral part of protecting their assets and dealing with succession planning. Coping with the business-related complexities such as tax issues and more could be challenging. However, seeking legal counsel who focuses on establishing wills and estates can simplify the process significantly.

Important matters to consider include contingency plans for the running of the business in the unfortunate event of the business owner becomes incapacitated or dies unexpectedly. If there are other business partners or co-owners, a buy-sell agreement might have to be established, and life insurance may be required to fund such agreements. Decisions will have to be made about a successor, and if the plan is to leave the business to a family member, what provisions must be made to provide other family members with equally valued assets?

Business disputes can be resolved through arbitration

Litigation is an expensive process that could be financially devastating to any Alberta business. For this reason, many business disputes are resolved through arbitration. The primary difference between the two methods is that a judge orders the resolve in litigation, while arbitration enables the parties to find resolution through a process that suits their individual needs.

Arbitration is a voluntary process to which parties must agree in writing. Each party can have legal counsel present, and they will be in control of the procedural aspects, the choice of the location, timing and which other parties may attend. Arbitration procedures are typically informal without prescribed evidentiary and procedural rules, and it is usually a private process that will remain confidential if both parties so elect.

Keeping wills and estates current is crucial

Some people in Alberta diligently take care of estate planning at some time in their lives, but not all of them schedule the review of these documents to make sure they remain current. The contents of wills and estates are affected by life's changes and neglecting this task may render them useless. For example, a person whose brother is listed as the guardian of his or her children in the event of death may have relocated to another province, or even passed away himself, leaving no one available for this critical task.

Updating beneficiaries is another crucial task. Anyone who listed beneficiaries years ago when he or she first opened Registered Retirement Savings Plans or Tax-Free Savings Accounts might have been young and single at the time. If beneficiaries were never updated after marriage and the birth of children, loved ones will have problems obtaining those funds if something should happen to the account holder. The same applies to other investments and accounts on which beneficiaries were listed.

Consider these matters when buying a business

Many entrepreneurs in Alberta who decide to buy businesses focus on nothing other than the price. Some think the success of the purchase depends on their ability to negotiate a better price. However, the lowest possible price might not be the most critical consideration. An important question is how much of his or her own funds the entrepreneur is willing to contribute to the purchase of the business because that might provide more leverage during negotiations, and encourage lenders to offer additional resources.

A related question involves debt tolerance after using personal assets to secure financing. Will it be necessary to share control, and how much of the control will the entrepreneur be willing to give up? It is crucial to understand the structure of the financing and make sure that the debt load does not cause sleepless nights. At the same time, the vision for the future of the business must be considered.

Trusts can accomplish many goals in estate planning

Estate planning can be a daunting process for anyone in Alberta without the guidance of legal counsel. One of the estate planning tools that can help accomplish certain goals is a living trust. This option allows a person to pass property ownership to beneficiaries immediately. Once established, a living trust can be modified throughout the testator's life, and because the trust owns the assets, it does not form part of the trustor's estate and is therefore not subject to probate.

Those with children from previous marriages typically find living trusts the ideal way to provide support for an earlier spouse, if desried, and ensure that children receive the inheritances intended for them. In cases in which the surviving spouse's financial expertise is not sufficient to manage the assets in a trust, a trustee can be appointed to oversee the trust on behalf of the surviving spouse. If a child or spouse is disabled, a living trust can provide appropriate care for that person after the testator's death.

Real estate agent commission can be saved when selling your home

Anyone who sells a residential property in Alberta would naturally want to get as much money as possible for it. Having to share the proceeds with a real estate agent can make a significant dent in the financial outcome of such a transaction. The entire process can be navigated with the support and guidance of legal counsel.

One mistake to avoid when going the DIY way is letting emotions rule when deciding on the price at which to list the residence. It might be wise to get an independent third party to help establish a market-related value. It is also crucial for the seller to be prepared for the bidding war and all the other tasks that are typically handled by realtors. One process that can create definite interest is staging the home to highlight its best features and downplay minor deficiencies.

Real estate issues are just part of acquiring a business

The first thing to do when acquiring a business in Alberta is to decide whether to start a new venture, buy an existing business or purchase a franchise. Along with the cost to acquire commercial real estate, the running expenses, projected returns, the value of the time and attention it will require must be considered. Knowing and understanding how the business will meet the goals of the purchasers will improve the chances of success.

Buying an existing business is one way to avoid the risks and expenses of starting a new business. However, even buying an already established business comes with pros and cons. One option is to buy a franchise that has already proved to be successful. Along with the purchase comes benefits that include marketing and publicity, established management and production methods, advice from knowledgeable franchisers and superior buying power.


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Ridout Barron

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Phone: 587-315-8454
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