Lawyer Mary-Alice Thompson joins our project to discuss how the law relates to Pat (a man who is acting for his mother). Her comments and insights help us to learn more about:
- What are the obligations of Pat who is acting for his mother under a Continuing Power of Attorney for Property in Ontario.
- Can Pat make the annual donation to a charity? Can Pat help the grandchildren with their tuition?
- Can Pat sell the house and distribute the proceeds to the children?
- Can Pat take money to make up for his time and expenses?
- Can Pat show the other children the accounts and financial information?
- Can Pat take some steps to reduce the probate on his mother’s estate?
About Mary-Alice Thompson, TEP. Certified Specialist (Estates and Trusts Law) - Law Society of Upper Canada
Mary-Alice Thompson is our partner responsible for the Wills and Estates Law Group, and she also practises Real Estate. Mary-Alice is the only estate planning lawyer in Kingston recognized by the Law Society of Upper Canada as a Certified Specialist in Estates and Trusts Law.
Mary-Alice puts her expertise to work for you by offering advice and assistance in making some of the hardest decisions in life. She can help with all aspects of estate planning, including wills, trusts, and powers of attorney. She offers expert advice to help you:
- to minimize future conflicts,
- to facilitate tax savings, and
- to protect your peace of mind.
If you are an executor with a difficult or confusing estate, she offers practical and knowledgeable guidance to help you negotiate the administration and keep you out of court. She also works with charitable trusts and corporations, and advises on issues of charitable gifting, changes to charitable status, and applications under s. 13 of the Charities Accounting Act.
Before joining Cunningham Swan in 2010, Mary-Alice worked for a trust company, and for many years in her own successful practice as a Trust and Estate Practitioner. She keeps up on the latest developments in estate matters, and is frequently invited to speak on topics in estate planning, estate administration and elder law, in which she has a special interest. Mary-Alice been a sessional and guest lecturer at the Queen’s Law School, and has also taught at the University of Alberta (English not Law), St. Lawrence College and for the Bar Admission Course of the Law Society of Upper Canada.
Mary-Alice loves to garden, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at her front yard. She has two accomplished children and two amazing grandchildren. In addition to gardening, she is addicted to long-distance walking, chamber music, and Scotch, and outside the office she generally just does what her cat tells her to!
- Drafting Wills in Ontario: A Lawyer’s Practical Guide. Toronto: CCH, 2003, with Robyn Solnik.
- Drafting Wills in Canada: A Lawyer’s Practical Guide. Toronto: CCH, 2012, with Robyn Solnik.
- “Seeing Double: Mary-Alice Thompson looks at ‘double wills’ and other unfamiliar aspects of will-drafting in Ontario”. The STEP Journal (London), XIV, 8 (October 2006).
- “Issues about Issue: What Does ‘All That Legalese’ Really Mean?” with Robyn Solnik, OBA Righting Wills IV, Toronto, May 2008.
- “Winding up the Estate,” LSUC: Practice Gems — Probate Essentials, Toronto, September 22, 2008.
- “Mutual Wills and Mirror Wills,” Frontenac Law Association, Kingston and the 1000 Islands Legal Conference, Gananoque, September 2008.
- “Difficult Assets to Administer,” LSUC: Practice Gems — Probate Essentials II, Toronto, September 17, 2010.
- “Mutual Wills and More,” Beyond Estate and Trust Essentials (OBA), Toronto, May 2011.
- “Resealing and Ancillary Grants”, Probate Essentials III (LSUC), Toronto, September 2011 and October 2011.
- “Family Transfers”, Real Property Law: So What Keeps You Up At Night? (OBA), Toronto, September 2011 and October 2011.
- “Amendments to the Estate Administration Tax Act, 1998,” Probate Essentials III (LSUC), Toronto, 13 September 2012.
- “Unusual Bequests and Beneficiaries,” Probate Essentials IV (LSUC), Toronto, 19 September 2013.
Cunningham, Swan, Carty, Little & Bonham LLP
The firm is the trusted successor to several generations of outstanding lawyers. It comprises 24 committed lawyers who work together with a highly skilled support staff to offer specialized and friendly services to meet varying client needs. One group within the firm focusses on Wills and Estates Law.
The lawyers in our Wills and Estates Group create wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and related estate planning documents, as well as providing the specialized advice necessary to help you transfer wealth in an effective and tax-efficient manner. We never forget, however, that these are also intensely personal issues. You can rely on our extensive knowledge and experience to guide you through some of the hardest decisions you will ever make in life, including:
- Making wills, trusts and will substitutes
- Making powers of attorney for both property and personal care, including “living wills”
- planning involving the use of spousal trusts if you are in a second or subsequent marriage or relationship
- Planning to avoid or reduce probate taxes
- Planning for recreational properties including cottages
- Planning for beneficiaries with disabilities, including “Henson” trusts if you have a beneficiary who is on ODSP
- Corporate law and tax advice to facilitate the transfer of your family business
- Estate freezes to pass future growth of your family business to future generations
- Tax planned trusts to minimize income taxes
- Planning related to family law matters, including will-protection agreements and marriage contracts
- Advice related to cross-border planning if you own U.S. property or are considered a U.S. citizen, dual citizen or deemed resident under U.S. law
Our team of experienced solicitors routinely advises in the administration of trusts and estates, and in charitable matters. We have extremely capable and experienced staff to assist in the administration of estates. Our thorough understanding of the law and procedures in this area frequently allows us to help you avoid acrimonious and expensive litigation. We can assist with all areas of estate administration including:
- Obtaining court approval for the appointment of estate trustees with or without a will
- Passing of accounts for trustees and attorneys for property
- Executor or trustee compensation
- The replacement, retirement or removal of executors and trustees appointed under a will or trust deed
- The interpretation of wills and trusts
- Variation of trusts
- Guardianship applications, for property and the person
- Tax planning for estates, including disclaimers, renunciations and surrenders
- Administration of charitable trusts and corporations
Sometimes a death in the family leads to disputes that need court assistance to resolve. Working with our Litigation Group, we assist executors, beneficiaries, family members and charities who have contentious matters in the following proceedings:
- Challenges to the validity of a will
- Interpretation of wills and trusts
- Passing of accounts where the accounts are challenged
- Removal of Estate Trustees
- Abuses of powers of attorney
- Dependants’ support claims
- Guardianship and capacity disputes
- Equitable claims, including mutual wills, quantum meruit, proprietary and promissory estoppel, and unjust enrichment
You need a lawyer who is up-to-date in this changing area of the law. Our lawyers are active in the Eastern Ontario Estate Planning Council, the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, the Ontario Bar Association’s Trusts and Estates Law Executive, and the Frontenac Law Association Trusts and Estates Section.
We have written and taught extensively in this area and we frequently speak at events throughout Ontario on powers of attorney, trusts, and estates issues.
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