The importance of a Status Certificate when buying a condo

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Condominium living has become an option for homeowners who want to reduce the many responsibilities associated with a single-family residence.  Most condominium corporations assume these tasks and are a popular choice for both young and middle-age purchasers who are too busy, or prefer to limit their day-to-day home duties such as garbage and snow removal; home maintenance and repairs. Condominiums are also attractive to retirees who want to own without any strenuous activities that consume time, or who want freedom and security to travel without worrying about pre-retirement duties.

It is important for a purchaser to obtain an up-to-date status certificate for the unit and have it reviewed by a real estate lawyer.  Real estate agents generally make the agreement of a condo purchase and sale conditional upon a satisfactory review of the Status Certificate. Pursuant to the Condominium Act of 1998 (the “Act”), a condominium corporation has 10 days within which to produce a status certificate for anyone who requests one (upon payment of the prescribed fee which is currently $100).  The Act also establishes what information a status certificate must contain.

What is a status certificate?
A status certificate provides a snapshot of everything that may concern prospective purchasers, including its overall financial situation and budget relative to the amount of money in its reserve fund (a savings account maintained for major repairs and replacements of the common elements such as a new elevator or chiller); the rules by which unit owners are expected to abide; and whether the condominium corporation has knowledge of any circumstances that may result in an increase to the monthly common expenses.

It is vitally important to determine if a condominium corporation is involved or expected to be involved in  litigation, and an up-to-date status certificate may reveal that the unit is subject to a “special assessment,” which is a sum of money the condominium corporation believes must be collected from the unit owners to cover an unforeseen expense.  This knowledge of a special assessment may affect what a purchaser is willing to pay for a unit.

Your mortgage provider may also want to know that your lawyer has accomplished a review of the status certificate as a requirement of the sale.

What is a Power of Attorney (POA)?

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If you were to have a stroke, heart attack, or serious operation—a disability to the degree you could not take care of your own affairs, who would take over? What if this was the last day that could make a mindful decision, on your own behalf?

You transfer directorial powers over your affairs to a Power of Attorney 

In such a situation, a Power of Attorney (POA) allows people you trust to manage prescribed affairs of your life.

Without a POA, your family though ready to pay your bills, and help manage your bank account and your investments, for example, may need special court approval to act for you. They could be forced to face a bureaucratic nightmare just to acquire authority to pay your bills (from your provincial public trustee).

• Clarity can be defined A POA leaves no room for misunderstanding the range of authority over your assets. You may need to set restrictive clauses in a POA that addresses your unique concerns.

• You will give up the powers of your signature The POA relinquishes the power of your signature and all the authority associated with it. Unless it states otherwise, a POA may be used by the attorney immediately upon signing.

• It must be witnessed Improper witnessing annuls the legal completion and sets the POA up for contention. Thus make sure the document is witnessed properly.

• Be careful of restrictions you may not want included Some broad form POAs include optional clauses that are often left included, whereas they may not be applicable. These may include restrictions on the attorney that you may not want to impose.

• You may want to restrict beneficiary changes If you want the attorney to have power over changes of beneficiaries to life insurance or investment assets, make that clear. If not, clearly restrict the right to change beneficiaries.

A warning which may or may not apply to you

Unfortunately, an attorney once authorized with your directive powers could feel it is their privilege to become an “empowered benefactor” of your (you, the donor’s) estate once they lose capacity. Therefore, it is wise to have a lawyer articulately document your specific wishes in your Power of Attorney documentation.

To empower and entrust another with your own authority, may be the last time you have the healthy capacity to make a responsible decision on your own behalf; so make it carefully.

Where there is significant wealth involved, consider a POA designed specifically to give powers to assist in the governing of your financial affairs.

 

 

 

 

What insurance protects travelers and visitors?

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These insurance plans can offer emergency medical protection for visitors, immigrants, foreign students and residents who are not covered by government health insurance. Visiting guests can be covered by valid medical health insurance which begins upon arrival here insofar as it is bought ahead of travel.

Emergency medical expenses While travelling outside your country or locality some expenses may be partially covered by your government health insurance. There is both daily or annual coverage, which is great if you travel to the warmer climes in the winter or travel year-round.

What about travel coverage? Travelling outside of his or her country, an insured individual is covered by emergency insurance which pays for expenses related to an emergency medical condition (covered by the plan). These expenses may be a hospital stay, prescription drugs, ambulance transportation, etc. Please refer to the policy for more details.

Coverage can include these expenses:

  • Bedside companion travel and sustenance allowance
  • Ambulance transportation
  • Diagnostic (X-ray, lab tests)
  • Hospital (semi-private room)
  • Flight and travel accident coverage
  • Prescription drugs
  • Physician or surgeon
  • Return transportation to location of travel departure if emergency medical attention is needed
  • Emergency dental treatment by a licensed dentist and associated cost of prescription drugs while the insured is travelling
  • Accidental injury, dismemberment, or death by accident where the accident occurred during travel
  • Loss/damage of baggage and personal effects
  • Trip cancellation and interruption

Understand the details It is better to fill in a form and/or get a copy of the questions and answers within a contract related to any age-related or medical underwriting processes, versus doing an application over the telephone. File these documents in case of the need to claim against travel insurance. Avoid policy cancellation due to misinforming the insurer in relation to medical questions which should always be answered very fully with regard to all past history and medications used, plus retain a hard copy as your proof.

Note: Refer to the policy which may vary. Special plans may be bought outside of an employer’s group plan.

 

 

The Buy-Sell Agreement: A financial safeguards for shareholders

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Buy-Sell agreement is one of the most important legal documents a business can have to protect shareholders in the event of the death of a business owner/partner.

They must be planned ahead Whether you own a partnership or corporation, we can help you set up a buy-sell agreement while you are alive and capable of doing so. We will help you value your company and set up the right Buy-Sell Agreement to meet Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA’s) standards.

Funding the Agreement We can determine if the company has the cash flow or a large amount of money available to fund the buy-out of the deceased or disabled owner. If not, life insurance can be used to fund a buy-sell agreement as it can pay a large amount of tax-free capital at the right timing of the death of a business owner/partner.

Making it legally binding We can meet with your lawyer and the buyers’ lawyers. After it is drafted, all parties will review it to their satisfaction, and then sign it to make it legal. It is suggested that the life insurance be purchased first to ensure that one is insurable. Even where there is a medical problem, in most cases, there is an insurer willing to design a policy to suit the risk, based on the respective health of the individual.

What powers do you assign to an executor?

Be sure to consider what is involved, before naming or agreeing to act as an executor. 

• An executor carries out the instructions in your will. Co-executors can share the task.
• Jurisdictional laws define what the executor must do, whether they are a friend, relative, professional, or a trust company—however, the will can specify even more extensive powers.
• The executor may have to deal with some or all of the following at an emotional time: a funeral home, beneficiaries, past taxes, insurance and investment companies, government and business pension departments, real estate agents, lawyers, accountants, appraisers, stock brokers, and business partners.
• They may also be empowered to convert the estate to cash or divide assets equally among beneficiaries. They can also make payments to the parent/guardian of a beneficiary in most cases.
• The executor (especially if inexperienced in legal or financial matters) should know how complex the estate is before agreeing to the task. If necessary, appoint a co-executor who is a professional in the legal and/or accounting fields.
• Have a clear and objective idea of what will be involved before asking someone to be your executor and before agreeing to act as one.