Why You Need Title Insurance Even If You Pay Cash For The House

Posted by on May 1, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

If you are getting ready to purchase a house with cash, you may wonder if you have to purchase title insurance. Title insurance is something almost all lenders require borrowers to purchase, but if you pay cash for a house, you will not have a lender making demands like this. Because of this, you have the option to forego purchasing title insurance; however, this might not be a good idea. What Is Title Insurance? Title insurance is protection you receive when purchasing a house. This insurance assures you that the title of the property is clean and clear. The title of a house is simply a document that shows the location, property description, and legalities of the property, and property titles are not always clean. When you purchase a home, the title insurance company will research the property and the title. They will look for things such as: The owner of the property – If someone is trying to sell you property that he or she doesn’t really own, it will be detected in this research. Liens on the house – If someone placed a lien on the house, the title will not be clear. The seller of the house will have to pay this off, otherwise you will get stuck with the debt. Easements and other legal rights – The title of a house will also show if others have rights to this property. Without a title background check, you might end up with property that can legally be used by other people for certain things. This can include utility companies having the right to use the property, or it could involve someone having the right to drill oil or dig up minerals on the land. You would never know any of these things without a property title search. If you purchased property and later discovered an issue like this, your title insurance would cover all the costs required to fix the problem. Without title insurance, you would have to pay these costs out of your pocket. How Much Does It Cost? The good news about title insurance is that it is very affordable. It typically costs only 0.5% of the purchase price of a house. In other words, if you purchased a house for $100,000, you might only have to pay $500 for this insurance. The other good news is that this is a one-time fee. You will not have to make monthly payments for the insurance. You will simply pay the fee at closing, and you will have protection on your property for as long as you own it. Who Can You Hire To Do This? There are several ways to get a title search on a home you are buying, but one of the best ways is to hire a real estate lawyer to perform it. Real estate lawyers are very helpful in the home-buying process, and this is one of the things they often do when they are hired by home buyers. When a real estate lawyer completes this process, you can be certain that he or she thoroughly searched the title of this house. You will still need to purchase title insurance from an insurance company, but you will not have to pay the title company to perform the research on the title....

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Selling Your House? 2 People You Need To Hire

Posted by on Apr 21, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Do you need to sell your home in a hurry for a decent price? Although you might be tempted to snap a few pictures and slap your listing online, making the wrong decisions could impact your ability to sell. Here are two people you should hire, and how they can improve your opportunity for success: 1: A Professional Home Stager You might adore your black and white chevron rug and that family picture gallery, but you never know how potential buyers will feel about it. Buyers have a tendency to imagine themselves inside of the space, which could mean that your ultra-personalized touch could make someone think twice. After all, who wants to feel like they are living in someone else’s home? Fortunately, you can hire professional home stagers to make your place more appealing to buyers. In addition to de-cluttering your space and rearranging your existing home decor, stagers might switch out your furniture or brighten your place up with a few pops of color. For example, a professional stager might decide to remove your oversized couch and replace it with a few bright armchairs to make your living room seem larger and more modern.  Some sellers decide to stage their homes for real estate listing pictures, or for the entire open house. Although it might seem like an opulent idea, home staging can pay off when your house actually sells. In fact, although home staging costs an average of between $1,800 and $5,000, staged homes spend half the time on the market and tend to sell for about 6% more than the asking price. To put that number into perspective, if you listed your home for $300,000, staging your place might raise the sales price to $318,000—a profit that would make your staging expense relatively insignificant.  2: A Real Estate Lawyer Unless you study real estate contracts in your free time, selling your house can be stressful and all consuming. By the time you make it to your closing date, you might find yourself signing blindly just to move things along. However, you can avoid the frustrations involved with selling your place by working with a real estate lawyer. Here are a few services these professionals offer, and why they are worth every penny: Negotiations: What will you do if there is a lien on your property or if the seller requests unique sales terms? Real estate lawyers can take care of complicated negotiations and clarify mortgage conditions, so that you don’t lose sleep over the sale of your home. Explain Contracts: In addition to being long, intimidating documents, sales contracts can also be written in difficult-to-understand legalese. Fortunately, real estate attorneys are familiar with the jargon, so they can explain what you are really signing. Analyze Financial Aspects: Your real estate lawyer can also analyze the financial aspects of your real estate deal, including taxes, title expenses, utility costs, and escrow amounts. Since legal professionals have experience with prior deals, they can spot strange terms and have them changed, so that you don’t have to pay for problems later.  Attend Closing: Home closings can be stressful, especially if you are dealing with a picky title company. For example, some title companies might ask you to sign an entire second set of documents if you initial someplace...

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Addressing Your Autistic Child’s Needs During & After Divorce

Posted by on Mar 24, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Getting divorced is hard enough, and doing so when children are involved makes it worse. When a child is on the autism spectrum, this brings up additional considerations that should be addressed for the well-being of the youngster and the entire family. The child may have more difficulty adjusting to the changes in circumstances and even understanding what divorce is. It’s essential for you and your spouse to work together as amicably as possible on a variety of issues. Place of Residence Children on the autism spectrum tend to dislike change and disruptions in routine. Perhaps the first factor to consider is an effort to keep the child in the family home. If possible, the parent with primary physical custody can continue living with the child there. This will require an agreement to not sell the house, or at least to delay selling it for a certain length of time. If the person who continues living there must “buy out” half of the property value, you may have to create a legal arrangement in which that person makes a specified number of payments rather than paying the entire amount at once. Shared or Primary Physical Custody Your child craves structure in his or her schedule. An autistic child may not respond well to a shared custody arrangement in which about half of the week is spent with one parent and the rest of the week with the other parent. If you really want to try this type of custody, encourage your child to establish routines in each home and be especially supportive on the transition days. Set the arrangement up legally in a temporary form so you can easily make changes if it doesn’t work out.  An intriguing possibility is known as bird’s nest co-parenting. In this arrangement, instead of having children switch back and forth between two residences, they always live in one place. The parents take turns moving in and out instead. That can be particularly beneficial for an autistic child. Parenting Calendar A parenting calendar is useful for all divorced parents, but you and your spouse can especially help your special-needs youngster by having one. Point out all the routines that will not change. Understand if your child protests about changes that must occur. You and your ex may have to divide up holidays, birthdays and other special events. Focus more on your child’s emotional needs than on yours. Your youngster might become highly agitated or noticeably depressed at the prospect of spending Christmas away from home, for example. The parent who doesn’t live in the family home might give up that holiday time and choose another special event instead.  Stick with the same schedule as much as you can. A youngster with autism does better with predictability. He or she will appreciate being able to look at a schedule and know exactly what’s going on in the days ahead.  Financial Concerns A divorce can lead to financial problems because there’s no longer a shared income — and now there are two households. It’s important to make sure the child does not lose valuable support because of money issues. Child support may have to include an amount above and beyond what the law dictates if your youngster is to continue receiving different types of therapy and specialized education. ...

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What Happens To Your RRSP When You Die? Advice For Investors

Posted by on Mar 9, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) are increasingly popular. 59 percent of Canadians say they have contributed to one of these plans, which offer a more tax-efficient way to put money towards retirement. While many people plan how they intend to use their money during retirement, some savers overlook what happens to their plans when they die, a move which can greatly diminish the investment’s value. If you pay into an RRSP, learn more about what happens to the plan when you die, and find out how you should set up these plans to offer the best return on your investment. Why people choose to invest in RRSPs RRSPs help thousands of Canadians plan for retirement. With one of these plans, you can save money in a way that lowers the amount of tax you pay. You can deduct the total annual contribution you make to your RRSP from your gross income, which lowers the amount of tax payable through your tax return. You don’t pay any tax on money invested in an RRSP, either. You only pay tax when you decide to withdraw money from the plan, by which time you are normally in a lower tax bracket. As such, RRSPs are particularly attractive to investors who need to support themselves during retirement. For example, single people (through divorce, death or choice) won’t have a dual income to rely on and are likely to need a bigger income to get through retirement. What the Income Tax Act says about RRSPs When you die, the Income Tax Act (ITA) says that your estate must dispose of your assets at the fair market value. The government calculates this value based on events immediately prior to your death, but many people fail to realise that ITA also treats your RRSP as an asset. As such, unless you make alternative arrangements, your lawyer must record the full value of your RRSP as an asset, which means the amount becomes taxable. The good news is that you can plan your estate in a way that can avoid this tax liability on your RRSP. ITA rules also say that you can defer the tax liability if you appoint a qualified beneficiary for your RRSP. This rule applies if you have started to draw an income from the RRSP or if the plan has not yet matured. In these circumstances, a qualified beneficiary can include: Your spouse or common-law partner (including same-sex couples) A child or grandchild, if he or she is still financially dependent on you at the time of your death The authorities will accept that a child was financially dependent if he or she was a minor (under the age of 18), or the child was physically or mentally impaired. In the case of your spouse, the rules allow you to rollover the value of your RRSP into the spouse’s RRSP, without paying any tax. In the case of a dependent child, you can roll the RRSP into an annuity that will pay the child until he or she is 18. This will spread the tax liability over several years, as the authorities will treat the payment as an income. Where the beneficiary is a dependent and mentally or physically impaired, you can roll the funds over into a new RRSP for the...

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Family Law: Which Children Are Eligible For Child Support?

Posted by on Jan 5, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Unfortunately, not all marriages end with happily ever after. With time, many couples develop irreconcilable differences, and as a result, these couples may feel that getting a divorce would be best for both parties. Approximately 35 to 42% of all marriages in Canada result in divorce with an average age of divorce being 44.5 for men and 41.9 for women. Separating and distributing assets that have accumulated during the marriage can be difficult, as can determining reasonable child support payments. This article will explain several crucial factors that determine whether a child is eligible for child support payments. Are you the parent or have you acted as a parent to the child? First and foremost, it is important to determine which children you and your spouse are responsible for. You and your spouse are both responsible for children that are a result of the relationship. Adopted children and stepchildren are a bit trickier in the eyes of the law. Depending on who adopted the child and the role that you and your spouse have played in the children’s life, you could argue in court regarding who is really the parent of the child. For example, if your spouse has adopted a child previously or has another child from a previous marriage or relationship, you could technically argue that you are not responsible for paying child support payments, as the child is not your responsibility. Your spouse, on the other hand, could argue that you have played a role as a parent to the child for a long enough period of time to be considered as his or her parent; thus, making you responsible to pay child support payments. Is the child under the age of majority? The age of majority is the threshold that has been placed to determine adulthood, and is then conceptualized in law. It is the exact age where minors become adults and assume responsibility and control over all of their actions. Depending on the province that you reside in, the age of majority will be either 18 or 19. For example, the age of majority in Alberta and Manitoba is 18 whereas the age of majority in British Columbia and New Brunswick is 19. If a child is under the age of majority, he or she will be eligible for child support payments. In short, if you have sole custody over the child, your spouse will be responsible for paying child support to help raise and support the child. If the child is over the age of majority, is he or she considered as a dependent? If you are a parent or have acted as a parent to the child, but he or she is over the age of majority, then the court will determine whether the child is still considered as a dependent. If the child is considered as a dependent, the court may request that you pay child support for an additional period of time that is dependent on the unique factors of each case. Several factors will come into play when determining whether a child is a dependent, including: disease disability other causes, such as full-time enrolment in a post-secondary institution Generally speaking, most courts will recognize enrolment in a post-secondary institution as a reasonable cause. You or your spouse may be responsible for providing...

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International Child Support — Should You Be Worried About Your Ex-Spouse Moving To The U.S.?

Posted by on Dec 4, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Many an ex-spouse has considered leaving Canada and moving to the United States in an effort to thwart their child support payments. What these law-dodging parents don’t realize is that their move will by no means relieve them from their financial duty. If your ex-spouse is threatening to move to the United States so they don’t have to comply with child support orders, read on to learn why you shouldn’t be worried. Their Passport Will Be Denied If They Owe Too Much In order to leave Canada and enter the United States, your ex-spouse will need to obtain a passport. Before giving them their passport, the government will consult a database to determine whether or not they are eligible to receive one. If your ex-spouse owes you more than $4,000 in child support, the passport will be denied. What if they already have a passport? No need to worry. Any passport they have already obtained will be revoked. The United States Works With Canada On Child Support Cases In 2007, the United States, along with Canada and several other countries, signed the Hague Convention Treaty. Countries joined under this treaty work closely with each other to locate parents who owe child support and enforce their payments. Participants in the treaty have a uniform, standardized, simple procedure for communicating child support-associated needs with each other. Simply put, your situation isn’t unique, and there are procedures in place to quickly deal with individuals who hop their country’s border in an attempt to dodge child support payments. If your ex-spouse has successfully made it out of Canada, your lawyer can help you begin the process of transferring the enforcement of their child support to the United States by contacting the U.S. Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE). Your Ex-Spouse Can Be Located Even If They Don’t Provide You With An Address Oftentimes, a child support-owing parent who flees the country does so in an effort to hide out, so they’ll avoid leaving a trail that could disclose their whereabouts. No need to worry here, either. The United States offers a Federal Parent Locator Service that can help find individuals with delinquent child support payments.  The locator utilizes two databases — the Federal Case Registry and The National Directory of New Hires. The National Directory of New Hires keeps track of all employment and unemployment records in the United States. Individuals listed in this database are cross-referenced against the Federal Case Registry, which hold the information for all child support cases either originating in the United States or transferred to the United States from any country that has signed the Hague Convention Treaty. Your ex-spouse will eventually need some kind of income upon moving to the United States, so they will need to either secure a job, or file for unemployment benefits. As soon as they do, their personal information is registered with the National Directory of New Hires and they can be easily located by the state officials in charge of enforcing their child support payments. It should be noted that the Federal Parent Locator Service is not available to private individuals, so in order to access the information, your family lawyer will need to request permission to use the service from a state agency or court. If your ex-spouse is threatening...

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Coming To A Courtroom Near You: Your Fitness Tracking Data

Posted by on Dec 1, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Fitness trackers are all the rage these days. Whether you’re an avid fitness buff or just someone who wants to keep tabs on their physical fitness, the average fitness tracker offers a treasure trove of information on your health activities. These fashionable wrist bands are also making their appearance in a most unlikely venue: the courtroom. A growing number of personal injury lawyers are now relying on the wealth of data locked within fitness trackers to help their cases. Finding New Ways to Seek the Truth Verifying the facts can be a very difficult challenge, especially when personal injury cases are often fraught with attempts to manipulate the facts in the other party’s favor. For this reason, personal injury lawyers have relied on many tactics to seek the truth for their clients. As an example, lawyer Matthew Pearn offers an account of a plaintiff who claimed that his personal injuries prevented him from sitting at his computer for extended periods, which was a necessity for running his Internet-based business at home. To verify these claims, the defendants filed a motion to retrieve metadata from the plaintiff’s hard drive. The defendants would then use this information, which tracked the plaintiff’s computer use, to challenge his claims. Tactics such as these are becoming increasingly commonplace for claims handlers and defense counsels. A growing number of plaintiffs are also using electronic data in order to back up their claims. The Fitness Tracker’s Role in Personal Injury Claims With electronic data becoming fair game for proving personal injury claims, it was only a matter of time before the personal fitness tracker became a target for plaintiffs and defendants alike. Using wireless technology, fitness trackers and other wearables collect a broad range of information on the wearer’s physical state. This often includes weight gain and loss, blood pressure, heart rate and caloric burn. The data that comes from a fitness tracker carries a variety of uses. Wearers commonly use this data to assess their physical fitness. They may also share this data with their physicians and dieticians. Others may share their data over social networking sites to compare notes with friends and others. From a legal standpoint, the data that comes from a fitness tracker carries with it a higher degree of reliability. This is due to the unlikelihood that the data within has been tampered in any way, shape or form. When it comes to receiving honest and unbiased testimony, the data from a fitness tracker can carry significantly more weight in certain cases than a clinical interpretation from a doctor or physician. A Black Box for the Human Body Many legal experts are concerned that fitness trackers and other wearable devices can easily become yet another invasive device for those who are concerned about their privacy. Lawyers like Pearn are concerned about the implications that personal injury claims could have on a person’s privacy rights, especially if the other party requests their data. On the other hand, the courts are slowly recognizing the dangers that such tactics could pose. In Pearn’s account, the plaintiff appealed the motion. The Court of Appeal found that there was no expectation of privacy that would be violated by simply collecting data showing when the plaintiff used his computer. However, the court modified the motion to narrowly...

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Overwhelmed With Debt? Regain Control Of Your Finances With These Tips

Posted by on Nov 10, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

When you are feeling overwhelmed with debt, it can be intimidating and overwhelming. If you are worried about facing bankruptcy, the best thing you can do is reach out to a credit counselor and try to get control of your spending. Here are some steps that you can take on your own to regain control of your expenses and get out of debt. Know Where Your Money Goes The very first step to getting control of your finances is to understand exactly what your current financial situation looks like. Start by creating a detailed summary of the money you earned in the last three months as well as everything you spent. This will make it easier for you to see exactly where your money is going and how thin you may be stretched financially. Create a budget for the coming months as well. Make a list of your income sources and amounts, and then your fixed monthly expenses. You’ll want to identify every bill that you need to pay, including credit cards, loans and other expenses. The goal is to make sure that you have enough coming in to cover what’s going out. After you build the budget, the goal is to stick to it as closely as possible. The more comprehensively you follow the budget, the better your chances will be of paying your way out of debt without needing bankruptcy. Don’t Spend What You Don’t Have Although it can be tempting to take advantage of a financing option or a credit card offer, don’t apply for any new credit. Avoid any unnecessary expenses as well. Consider all of your expenses and make sure that everything you spend is necessary. Stop carrying your credit cards around with you. Store them in a locked drawer so that you aren’t tempted to overspend. Reduce or Eliminate Smaller Recurring Costs If you are buying lunch every day or paying for a subscription to a streaming service, start bringing lunch from home or cancel the subscription. Every monthly payment you can eliminate is a payment that you can save or put into debt reduction. Another expense you can cut is bank fees. Look at the schedule of fees for your bank account and eliminate any that you can. For example, keep your account reconciled so that you avoid any overdraft fees. Over time these costs can add up. Manage Your Debts In order to avoid bankruptcy, you’ll want to start prioritizing your currently outstanding expenses. Start with the debts that have the highest interest rates first. This will save you significantly over time. Once you pay that off, move to the next highest interest rate. Whenever possible, make more than the minimum payments on your credit cards to help reduce your interest charges over time. Talk to your creditors as well. If you can negotiate a deal with the creditors, you might be able to reduce your payments or even settle your account with a lower balance simply by making the payment in its entirety. Consider a Consolidation Loan Sometimes, a consolidation loan is the best way to pay off outstanding debts. If you have a financial institution that you can work with and rely on, take out a consolidation loan. The goal of a debt consolidation loan is to pay off...

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Consumer Proposal Versus Bankruptcy: How To Choose Which Option Is Best For You

Posted by on Nov 6, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

If you find yourself in debt, and you are falling behind on payments or just overwhelmed by the amount owed, then help is available to you. However, it can be intimidating to understand what options are available and how to know which direction to proceed. Since there is no “one size fits all” option to provide the help you need, you should learn more about each before making a decision. Here is information to help you choose: What are your options for settling debt? Canada offers two primary options for consumers who need debt relief, and both of these are provided for in the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act: Consumer proposal – a consumer proposal is a formal offer extended to creditors that consolidates existing debt into a single amount. Consumer proposals allow the debtor to make fixed monthly payments on the balance owed; the period of time allowed by law for repayment can be up to five years in length. Personal bankruptcy – this action consists of filing a legal request that all personal debts be discharged. The discharge of debt is supervised by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy, and is facilitated under the guidance and advisement of a trustee. Both debt relief options have certain conditions, such as a requirement to undergo consumer credit counseling to learn how to effectively manage finances and avoid future hardship. You will also be required to surrender credit cards in your possession, and  What kind of debts do you owe? The kind of debt owed can play a large part in which direction you choose to go. Here are the types of debt divided into broad categories: Unsecured debt – This includes credit cards, personal loans and any other debt that is not backed-up by some type of collateral. It can be packaged together for consolidation in a consumer proposal. Unsecured debt may also be discharged in a bankruptcy proceeding. Secured debt – This includes mortgages, car loans, and any other debt backed by collateral, and cannot be included as part of a consumer proposal. Each secured debt must be negotiated on an individual basis with the creditor if a debtor needs relief; keep in mind that creditors are not obligated to change the terms of financing, though some will if they can be persuaded that it is in their best interest to do so. However, secured debt can be included in personal bankruptcy, which provides you with more flexibility to handle debt. If the bulk of your debt is unsecured, then a consumer proposal makes the most sense if you are in a position to make some type of payment. However, if you are under a heavy debt burden that includes significant secured debt, then you should explore bankruptcy since those obligations may be discharged via that route. Keep in mind that bankruptcy will require that you surrender personal assets, with some exceptions, to help pay what is owed to creditors. What can be done about special types of debt? In addition, you need to remember that special types of debt are not eligible for inclusion in consumer proposals and bankruptcy. Some of these special debts include: Alimony payments Child support payments Student loans (in some circumstances) Fines and restitution payments Debts incurred by illegal activity If you find...

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Becoming A Landlord In Ontario

Posted by on Nov 4, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Being a landlord in Ontario can be a lucrative position, but it can also be very dangerous. If you let the wrong tenant into your home, it can be destroyed. And if you don’t know exactly what your legal obligations are, you can get yourself into some real legal trouble. If you want you and your rental home to stay safe, make sure that you follow these tips when you start renting out a home. Carefully Draft Up the Lease Be sure to include all of your expectations in the lease that you draft up for your property.  It is a good idea to have a lawyer help you draft your lease if you do not have experience doing so. That way, you will be sure that it is legal and covers everything important about the rental. Do Regular Inspections of the Property If a tenant is wreaking havoc on your home, you do not want to wait until the end of the lease to find out. In order to make sure that your property is being treated with due respect, you should do regular inspections of the property. Make sure that you give your tenant notice before you come knocking on the door, though; according to Ontario law, landlords must give their tenants at least 24-hour notice before entering the home unless there is an emergency. Continue to Do Regular Upkeep on the Home While you probably know that you should do any repairs that the tenant requests, you might not think about the fact that you should be doing regular upkeep on the home. If you do not keep up with normal upkeep (such as repainting and roof repairs), your home could lose value for future tenants.  If you want to lower the number of times you have to visit the property, you can combine these repairs with your regular inspections. Know the Proper Eviction Laws If a tenant is doing damage to your property or not paying rent, you probably want them out as soon as possible. However, failing to follow Ontario’s eviction laws can be a very serious offense. Instead of doing something drastic, such as changing the locks or having utilities shut off to the home, you must notify your tenant in writing of the infraction. There are two main types of eviction notices that you can give. Missed Rent: These notices are used for a tenant who has missed a rent payment. In Ontario, a tenant has 14 days after receiving this notice to pay the rent before legal action begins. Damage or Breaking Lease: These notices are used when there is a violation of the lease other than a payment issue. You must give 20 days’ notice if it is the first infraction or 14 days’ notice if it is the second time in six months. Once you have served the notice and the required amount of time has passed without the tenant fixing the problem, you will have to take the tenant to court. You should hire a lawyer who is experienced in these kinds of cases and show him or her all of the documentation you have. Proper documentation should include evidence of the infraction (such as pictures of the damaged property or evidence of a missed rent payment), copies...

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