Bennet Waugh Corne Lawyers - Lawyer - Family Law - Real Estate Law - Law Firm - Winnipeg - Manitoba

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Prudent to Review Your Will (or get one!) As Your Relationship Status Changes

Prudent to Review Your Will (or get one!) As Your Relationship Status Changes

Why do you need a Will?  If you die without a Will the law will dictate how your property is dealt with.  The Intestate Succession Act sets out what will happen if you die without a Will. This may not be the outcome you wanted. You can ensure that your wishes are followed by having a valid Will.

If you are separated but do not yet have a Separation Agreement or you are not yet divorced and do not have a Will your spouse is still your beneficiary under The Intestate Succession Act.

When should your Will be updated?  If you get married after your Will is made the Will is revoked by the marriage, unless there are specific circumstances as outlined in The Wills Act.  One of those circumstances is if your Will makes reference to the upcoming marriage then it will still be valid.  Another circumstance where the Will is valid following a marriage is if it fulfills obligations to a former spouse or common-law partner under a separation agreement or court order. 

If you get divorced after you have made a Will, your Will is interpreted as though your former spouse predeceased you, unless your Will says otherwise.  This means that any gifts to your former spouse or appointments (for example if they were named as your executor) are revoked.  This applies once your divorce is final. 

What about when you are separated but not yet divorced?  If you are separated but do not have a Separation Agreement your Will is still valid. Any gifts to your spouse are valid. 

What about common-law relationships?  A common-law relationship is established under The Wills Act and The Intestate Succession Act when you have cohabited for 3 years (or 1 year if you have a child together) or if you have registered your relationship under The Vital Statistics Act. 

A Will is an important part of managing your estate and should be reviewed and kept up to date.


Renée Nichols

Posted by Alison Bennet at 12:00 AM 0 Comments

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Collaborative Law - Education Committee members

Bennet Waugh Corne is proud of the active involvement of its firm members with Collaborative Practice Manitoba.  Renée Nichols, Kimberley Soul and Shasta Benaim volunteer on the Education Committee, and Shasta Benaim accepted the position of Co-Chair of the Education Committee in November 2017.  

 

Posted by Alison Bennet at 3:21 PM 0 Comments

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Welcome to the Firm

BWC is pleased to announce that Renee D. Nichols will be joining the firm in February 2017. Renee has been practising law for over 20 years, primarily in the areas of family law and child protection.  Renee has also developed her skills as a mediator, addressing family law disputes.  

Posted by Alison Bennet at 12:03 PM 0 Comments

Friday, April 04, 2014

The Challenges of Spousal Support

Grenville Waugh, Alison Bennet, Nadia Rumore and Kimberly Soul attended to the continuing legal education program "Chequemate: The Challenges of Spousal Support on March 21, 2014.  Guest presenters included Rollie Thompson, Dalhousie University, Marie Gordon, Q.C. and Racheael Pettigrew.

Posted by Alison Bennet at 3:26 PM 0 Comments

Friday, October 18, 2013

Communication Tips for parents

Although most separated parents would agree that communication with the other parent about their children is important, many find it difficult.  This should not be surprising, as communication problems were likely a factor in the relationship breakdown.  Depending on your style, you may be inclined to avoid communicating, or you may go beyond the boundaries of what should be communicated.   Here is a link to a Decision Tree circulated by the organization Kids in the Middle, based out of Kansas City, MO.  It provides tips on when and how to communicate with the other parent.

Alison Bennet

http://www.kidsinthemiddle.org/tips/contacting-your-co-parent/#sthash.gF1wkRlP.dpbs

Posted by Alison Bennet at 12:00 AM 0 Comments

Thursday, October 03, 2013

What Can I do to Keep my Legal Fees Down?

What can I do to keep legal fees down?

By Alison Bennet

Partner with Bennet Waugh Corne, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Let’s face it – legal fees incurred to pursue a separation or divorce, and to sort out all the other hard issues that come with that step, are another unwanted strain to an already tight budget.  There are things you can do to help keep those costs down.  Here are some tips, many of which apply to minimize legal fees for all types of legal issues:

1-       Do your homework

When your lawyer asks you for information, get it to him or her, and do it as quickly as you can.  If the lawyer has to remind you to get the information, or has to review parts of the file to see if she has what she needs, this will increase her time, and accordingly increase overall fees.  If a long time passes without the information coming in, the lawyer will have to review the file to refresh his or her memory as to why that piece of information was needed in the first place. Sometimes it is more efficient for the lawyer to send out requests for information, if the request is more complicated.  Take your lawyer’s lead and don’t be afraid to suggest ways you might be able to help.  Recognize the lawyer might have her own efficient ways to handle the compilation of information.

 

2-      Organize your information as best as you can

When you supply documents to your lawyer, don’t just bring in all the papers you have, and expect the lawyer to piece through it, sort it out, and figure out why each paper matters.  Tied into the first point, bring in what was asked for, and not other things.  For example, if the lawyer says she needs a statement showing a bank account balance on January 1, 2010, a statement showing what was in the account yesterday will not help her.  If she gives you a list of things to gather, try to return the list with the requested papers, in the same order.  Do not write on the documents, but do place post it notes with explanations to help the lawyer understand what you have provided.  Do point out anything that you are still trying to get together.

Do not copy your lawyer on each and every email that you send to your spouse.  If you send them to your lawyer, expect to be charged.  A better way is to keep copies of the emails yourself, in a binder, or folder, and let your lawyer you know you have them.  If your lawyer needs them, organize them in a way to be discussed with your lawyer.

 

3-      Prepare for meetings and phone calls

Before you meet with your lawyer, try to get a sense of what will be discussed so you can prepare yourself.  Make your own list of things you want to discuss with your lawyer.  Rather than calling your lawyer each time a questions comes up, write it down, so you remember it the next time you speak.

  

4-      Keep a journal of information. 

If parenting plans are at issue, keep a journal of important or significant events, and share the information with your lawyer at your next meeting.  Generally the lawyer does not need details of daily events as they happen.  At a future date however, having that information may be important.  If money is changing hands between you and your spouse, keep a record of how much you received/paid, when, and for what. Keep the cancelled cheques, or record of the cheque number handy too.

5-      Communicate with the other side directly, if possible

While some lawyers prefer to limit communication between spouses once a court process has started, in most cases most lawyers would agree that working out small matters with your spouse is positive, financially and otherwise.  Rather than asking your lawyer to set up holiday time, try to have a conversation with your spouse directly.  Be courteous and cautious in all communications with your spouse.  If you do have detailed discussions, make your lawyer aware.  If you are having settlement discussions with your spouse, keep your lawyer in the loop, as you do not want different negotiating strategies to undermine the process.  Always let the other side know that you want to talk to your lawyer before you agree to anything.

 

6-      Decide what matters

Do you want to go to court to fight about whether time sharing should switch at 8:00 or 8:15?  Years from now, will you feel it was a good choice to fight over that couch?  With a separation come numerous possibilities for battles – decide what is important to you, and think about why.  Do a cost benefit analysis to decide what makes sense for you, and what doesn’t.   We realize that a price tag cannot be put on some things, but think about whether the stress and cost of the battle will erode the pleasure associated with what was sought.  Sometimes you may have to take a firm stand and see it through – decide when.

 

7-      Remember your lawyer is not a counselor, tax preparer, etc     

Remember that your lawyer is a professional, and while he may be knowledgeable in many areas related to the law, you must be mindful of your lawyer’s role.   Your lawyer will need to know about medical, financial, or other issues you are facing, to the extent they might impact the approach taken, but there are some things the lawyer cannot do. Similarly, if you call your lawyer when you are angry, worried, or otherwise in need of someone to listen, don’t blame your lawyer for listening, as he is human.   Expect the lawyer to charge you for his time.  Be open to suggestions from your lawyer about other professionals that might assist.  Talk to friends.  Another caution here; don’t accept legal advice from a friend.

 

8-      Remember your friend is not a lawyer (likely)

 Your friend’s cousin’s uncle that didn’t have to pay spousal support may have been in a very different situation than you.  If you have hired a lawyer, you have to have faith that the lawyer is knowledgeable in the area, and is steering you the right way.  While it is perfectly acceptable to ask a question based upon a result you might have heard of through a friend, accept that it may not be a result that is achievable for you.  Adjust your expectation based upon what your lawyer tells you is a reasonable position based upon the facts of your case.

 

9-      Read your retainer agreement/letter and statements of account when you get them

If there is anything you don’t understand, bring it up right away.  At Bennet Waugh Corne, whenever we are retained based upon an hourly rate, we provide detailed time entries on our statements of account.  Look to see how your lawyer is spending his or her time, and what you can do to help.  You will get a better sense of the time it takes to prepare certain documents, and gain an appreciation for time demands to help better manage your own file.

10-   Choose a lawyer with whom you are comfortable

Is your lawyer knowledgeable?  Is she approachable?  Does she have your interests at heart? One client once told me that his new partner joked he spent more time emailing and phoning me than he did her.  Make sure that your lawyer is someone that you like on a professional basis.  We understand that respect is key to any good relationship.  Your relationship with your lawyer requires a degree of team work; be open and honest, and work together.   If you do not have faith in your lawyer’s advice, or if your personalities clash, optimum results will not be achieved.    Choose a lawyer that can help you understand your options.    

Posted by Alison Bennet at 12:00 AM 0 Comments

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Where did our money go? - dissipation of family property

Week Six: Dissipation of Assets

by Kimberly Soul

Sometimes it would be unjust to divide family property equally.

The conduct of the parties, such as one party committing adultery or being abusive, is not relevant when determining whether property should be divided unequally.

Property could be ordered by the Court to be divided unequally if one party has dissipated assets. Dissipation of assets occurs when one party gives large gifts to another person, spends excessive amounts of funds on another person, or on gambling, or on vacations etc. The conduct of a person can be relevant when considering whether the person has dissipated assets.

The definition of dissipation in The Family Property Act of Manitoba is as follows:

"dissipation" means the jeopardizing of the financial security of a household by the gross and irresponsible squandering of an asset;

 

If the Court finds there has been dissipation, it can order that the value of the assets lost can be added back into the equation, as though they still existed.  A spouse or a common law partner is required to bring an application to the Court before the expiry of two years from the date of the dissipation or from the date of the discovery of the dissipation otherwise the request for considering the dissipation will be denied by the Court.

There are other situations in which family property can be unequally divided.  The test is different depending on whether it is a commercial or family asset.  Unequal division of assets is very rare.

 

Posted by Alison Bennet at 12:00 AM 0 Comments

Monday, April 08, 2013

Welcome to the Firm

Effective April 15, 2013, Kimberly Soul will be joining the firm as an associate.  Kimberly has practiced primarily in the area of family law since 2008.

Posted by Alison Bennet at 12:00 AM 0 Comments

Friday, April 05, 2013

Professional Development

Grenville Waugh, Alison Bennet and Nadia Rumore attended the seminar "Yours, Mine and Ours: Adventures in Property" on March 15, 2013.   Speakers included Bob Klotz (Bankruptcy and Family Property Claims), Master Errick Harrison (The Simple Farm:  More Complicated Than You Know), and Associate Dean Lisa Fainstein (Exemptions, Loss of Exemptions, and Dissipation).

Posted by Alison Bennet at 12:00 AM 0 Comments

Friday, February 22, 2013

Common-Law Couples and Family Law Issues

On June 30, 2004, The Common-Law Partners’ Property and Related Amendments Act was passed in Manitoba which greatly impacted those in common-law relationships.  Prior to June 30, 2004, if a common-law couple separated, each person kept the property that was in his/her name.  Also, if one member of the couple died without a will, there was no law entitling the surviving partner to a portion of the deceased’s estate.  With the passing of The Common-Law Partners’ Property and Related Amendments Act, the following rights now apply to common-law partners, to name a few:

  1. If a common-law couple separates, each partner will be entitled to one-half the value of the property acquired by the couple during the time they lived together under The Family Property Act. This includes pensions (both employment and C.P.P.)- see The Pension Benefits Act.
  2. The Family Property Act also provides that if one member of a common-law couple dies leaving a will that either neglects or ignores the other partner, the law will override the will to ensure that the surviving partner receives his/her fair share of the couple’s family property.
  3. If a common-law couple separates, either party is now entitled to make a claim against the other for maintenance (spousal support) under The Family Maintenance Act.
  4. If one member of a common-law couple dies without a will, under The Intestate Succession Act, the surviving partner will receive all, or most, of the deceased partner’s property.  
  5. The Dependants Relief Act protects family members, which includes common-law partners, of a deceased person so long as those family members were substantially dependent on the deceased for financial support.  The court can be asked to make a maintenance order if the will does not provide enough support for the common-law partner or in cases where there is no will. 
  6. The Homesteads Act gives the surviving common-law partner who has homestead rights, the right to live in the family home for the rest of his or her life, even if the property was owned only by the deceased partner.

To qualify as a common-law couple, the couple can register their relationship with a The Vital Statistics Agency.  The legislation will also automatically apply to common-law couples who have lived together in a conjugal relationship for the time required by the legislation (either three years, or one year as long as they have a child together, depending on the legislation).  Those involved in a common-law relationship should speak with a lawyer to determine which legislation applies to them and to determine their rights and obligations.

If those presently in a common-law relationship do not want any or all of the property sharing laws or maintenance laws to apply to them, they can opt out of the legislation by signing a written agreement.  Those wanting such an agreement should consult a lawyer to assist them in the preparation and execution the document.

Bennet Waugh Corne

Posted by Alison Bennet at 11:47 AM 6 Comments

Friday, February 22, 2013

Do You Know Enough About Child Support?

By Nadia Rumore

An obligation to pay child support automatically arises once parents are residing in different homes. The monies paid by one parent to the other is intended to assist with the child(ren)'s care and maintenance. Child support is not a right of the parent, but is instead a right of the child.

The Child Support Guidelines under both the Divorce Act and The Family Maintenance Act govern the amount of child support that is payable. The base amount of child support is usually determined by the gross income of the payor when a child lives with one parent primarily, but different time-sharing regimes can suggest a different formula for calculating support.

The Guidelines also allow for the sharing of some additional expenses over and above the base amount to be paid. Some of these additional expenses include costs related to childcare, medical check-ups and procedures, and extracurricular activities of the child.

Child support does not necessarily end at the age of 18 for the child. Support may continue in several circumstances, the most common of which relates to the child attending post-secondary education. The entitlement and amount of child support to be paid after the age of 18 rests on many factors.

The law on child support is continuously evolving, and it is important for people to understand their rights and/or obligations in respect of this area of law.

Posted by Alison Bennet at 11:46 AM 0 Comments

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