Frequently Asked Questions

For any questions about the use of this web site or the information it contains, please visit our Web Site Use Agreement and Privacy Policy. You will also find more information on these topics in the Service Areas listings of our site. To get specific advice customized to your situation, please call us at 613-722-1500 or by email to arrange a consultation with one of our lawyers.

How do I get a consultation with your firm? 

It's a very easy process. Simply call us at 613-722-1500 and let us know that you would like to consult with someone about a legal matter. We will ask you a few simple questions and then put you in touch with one of our staff members. There is no obligation and your call is confidential - we're here to help.

You can also email us at info@mannlawyers.com. Please note that email messages are generally not secure and we therefore cannot assure confidentiality.

 

What is the maximum amount I can pursue in Small Claims Court?

The maximum amount of a claim in Small Claims Court is currently $25,000. Any amount claimed by a party in excess of the $25,000 limit would have to be abandoned by such party in order to continue to proceed with an action in Small Claims Court. Once this excess amount is abandoned, the party would be barred from attempting to recover the abandoned sum.

 

I was just fired. Should I sign this "release" they gave me?

Being terminated from your job is one of the most stressful situations that you will ever face, and the most important thing to remember is that you should never let yourself be pressured into signing something before you understand all of your rights and options.

We strongly recommend that you give us a call before you sign anything, to schedule an appointment to review your employment contract, the offer, and the release with us. We can quickly and inexpensively review your situation, and advise you as to your options.

You may be entitled to more money, and if you sign a "release", you may lose significant rights.

You should also be aware that if you make a complaint to the Ontario Ministry of Labour, their ability to help you is severely limited by statute, and you may lose the right to make other claims by pursuing such a complaint.

 

I have an employee who just isn't working out. Can I let him go?

An employer can only terminate an employee without notice or pay in lieu of notice if the employer can establish that it has "just cause".

Employers should be aware that the Courts have set a high standard regarding the conduct and steps necessary to prove "just cause" to fire an employee. Employers who have improperly alleged just cause for dismissal have been penalized by the Court in wrongful dismissal lawsuits.

If just cause cannot be established, an employer can generally terminate the employment of any employee as long as it provides "reasonable notice" of the termination or pay in lieu of notice.

Terminations are a difficult but sometimes necessary reality of doing business. Before terminating anyone's employment, we recommend that you speak to one of our employment lawyers about it. There are a number of legal issues to consider, including whether there are sufficient circumstances to prove just cause, the effect of any employment agreement, and the amount of notice of termination or pay in lieu of notice required by the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and the common law.

Our employment lawyers can help you to understand your legal options and obligations when making difficult business decisions regarding termination of employment. We are also experienced and effective negotiators, and when the deal is done we get the paperwork done right.

 

Do I need a survey to buy a home?

In many cases surveys are no longer required in the purchase of a home, depending on the property which you are purchasing and the bank or mortgage company lending you the money for the property. For many properties, instead of a survey, it is possible to purchase title insurance to protect you and your bank from any problems which a survey might have revealed. The cost of the insurance is much cheaper than that of a survey.

However, although it is not strictly required, a survey is still advisable in order for the purchaser to be fully informed as to the location of the boundaries, the reliability of any fencing, encroachments of driveways onto neighbouring properties, etc.

 

What is land transfer tax, and how much is it?

Land Transfer Tax is a tax payable on all registered conveyances of land in the Province of Ontario with certain exceptions.

For instance, at the present time, a purchaser who has never owned a home anywhere in the world before and who purchases a new home from a builder is exempt from the tax to a maximum of $2,000.00. Transfers between spouses and between same-sex partners for "natural love and affection" are also exempt from the imposition of the tax.

The rate of tax is graduated - meaning that the more expensive the home, the more tax you will pay, unless you fit within an exemption.

The current tax rate for a single family home is:

{C}1. 0.5% of the first $55,000.00

{C}2. 1% of the next $195,000.00

{C}3. 1.5% of the portion between $250,000.00- $400,000.00

{C}4. 2% on anything in excess of $400,000.00.

At the current time (January/2008), the Provincial Government is considering extending the first time home buyers exemption to first time home buyers of resale homes. When passed into law, all first time home buyers of resale homes, who signed their Agreement of Purchase and Sale after December 13th, 2007, will be eligible for a refund up to a maximum of $2,000.00. First time home buyers will need to apply for the rebate.

For more information, see:

http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/tax/ltt/

Or for the application form, see:

http://www.forms.ssb.gov.on.ca/mbs/ssb/forms/ssbforms.nsf/GetFileAttach/013-0300E~1/$File/0300E.pdf

 

Do I need to be present to complete my real estate transaction?

There are many documents to be signed on closing which require your original signature and therefore can not be completed by fax.

If you know you are going to be away when your transaction closes you should advise your solicitor. He or she may recommend that you complete a limited power of attorney which allows someone you appoint to sign closing documents on your behalf.

 

What does being a joint tenant mean?

"Joint Tenants" is one of the ways in which individuals may own title to real property.

It means that the survivor of the joint tenants has the right to have the deceased's name deleted from title and to be registered as the sole owner of the property. This process is called a survivorship application.

It is exempt from Land Transfer Tax and is not considered part of the deceased's assets under the terms of a will or on an intestacy. It is often an effective estate planning tool but must be used with caution to avoid unexpected tax implications.

 

What happens if I die without a will?

Dying without a will is called dying "intestate".

Someone, a family member or friend, would perhaps take it upon themselves to look after your affairs.

This person would need to apply to the Court for a Certificate of Appointment as an Estate Trustee without a Will. Your assets would be distributed in accordance with a statutory scheme which may not be in accordance with your wishes.

 

Why not just get a 'will kit' instead of a lawyer?

We believe that every client's will must be custom-tailored to his or her specific needs. You need appropriate advice, and we are the ones who can provide it.

So called "will kits" are not tailored to your personal needs and situation, as they are only set up for generic and common situations.

Laws pertaining to wills and estate planning instruments vary and change, both with time and geographic location. The kits carry long disclaimers to this effect.

As legal professionals, we are able to provide timely, current, and specific guidance and assistance for each client. We highly recommend that you contact us for more information, before you purchase or use these kits.

It will be our pleasure to assist you in your planning and give you some peace of mind that your wills and estate planning has been taken care of properly.

 

What is probate?

Probate is a court application to prove the validity of the last will of the deceased in order that the Estate Trustee (formerly the executor/executrix) may show s/he has the authority to transfer the deceased's assets in accordance with the terms of the deceased's last will.

Probate is now referred to as a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee with a Will.

 

What is per stirpes? And what does per capita have to do with my will?

To the greatest extent possible, we try to use plain language in drafting your documents.

However, when it comes to drafting wills, there are certain terms which have such deep-rooted legal meanings which have been long accepted and judicially determined that it does not make sense to use anything else.

Per stirpes

This Latin phrase is often used to refer to distribution of the estate to descendants. It means 'to divide by root or by stock'. It means that those closest to the deceased by degree will take first but if one of those descendants is deceased at the relevant time and has descendants, then those descendants will stand in place of their deceased parent and inherit the parent's share of the estate.

For example, Mildred has three children Anne, Brenda and Charles. Anne has two children, Steve and Tom. Brenda has one child, Ursula. Charles has no children.

Mildred's will contains a clause which states, "my Trustees shall divide my estate among my issue alive at my death in equal shares per stirpes"

If all three children (Anne, Brenda and Charles) are alive at Mildred's death, then they will each receive one third of the estate. If Anne has predeceased her mother, then her children Steve and Tom will divide one-third between them and Brenda and Charles will each receive one-third.

 Per capita

In contrast, per capita means 'to divide by heads'without any reference to what level of descendant the beneficiary is to the deceased.

If Mildred's will had stated "to divide the residue of my estate among my grandchildren alive at the date of my death in equal shares per capita" then Steve, Tom and Ursula would each receive one-third of the estate.

 

Who handles my property when I die?

The person you have appointed as your attorney for property in your Power of Attorney only has authority to act while you are living.

The estate trustee appointed under the terms of your will administers your estate upon your death. It is permissible to appoint the same person to fulfill both roles. Often, though, two different people will be selected to ensure a "check and balance".

 

Is 2 years of living together the same as being married?

Absolutely not. The only statutory rights unmarried cohabitants acquire is a right to seek spousal support (a.k.a. "alimony"), and that right only arises after three years of continuous cohabitation. "Common law married" is a misnomer and leads to confusion about a person's real family law rights. After a longer cohabitation, people who have contributed to the acquisition of property accumulated in a relationship, but without legal title to that property, might have some ability to make claims for compensation or partial ownership of property, but this is not automatic and can be expensive and complicated to pursue at court. You should consider obtaining specific family law advice if you are considering entering or leaving an unmarried cohabitation situation.

 

Are there still differences between same sex partners and married spouses?

The short answer to the question is "Yes".

Same-sex spouses are treated the same in law as others in the same circumstances. So a married opposite-sex couple and a married same-sex couple are subject to the same legal rights and obligations.

In our experience however we find that most people have significant misconceptions about the differences between between the rights and obligations when married and when unmarried and cohabiting.

For example, there is a formal property division regime in a legal marriage, whereas there is no statutory property division mechanism for unmarried couples.

Many people do not fully understand the legal ramifications of getting married. It is important to explore with a lawyer what those implications are before tying the knot.

It is also important to explore the possibility of a cohabitation agreement or marriage contract in order to have more control over the rules that will govern issues such as support and division of assets, whether on separation or death of one of the partners.

This is true of people in either same-sex or opposite-sex relationships.

 

Do I need to get a lawyer for an amicable separation?

A fairly large and complicated set of legal rights and obligations arise upon the separation of spouses, whether married or cohabiting.

Even if it appears that you and your partner have is all worked out, important details and legal matters can get brushed over. Worse, neither you nor your partner may even be aware of them. Worse still, if no one thinks it is necessary to actually reduce your agreement to writing, or to get legal advice about the terms you have agreed to - your "agreements" are actually quite fragile. It can be very difficult to enforce those agreements in the future.

A plea of "but we had a deal!" doesn't get you very far in court if you didn't write it down, or if neither one of you was actually aware, via advice from a lawyer, what your legal rights and obligations were at the time of separation.

Your terms may be bang-on what a court would do, or you may be way out in left-field, either getting an incredibly advantageous deal or a terrible deal. How will you know?

We recognize that it isn't always cheap to get lawyers in on the task, but it is ultimately much cheaper than if things later go awry.

You may even think that you need to avoid lawyers to keep it amicable. The right lawyers, with experience and the right focus on your needs can help you.

Take advantage of your ability to communicate now, and make some formal arrangements that are binding and enforceable. This will help you to live more happily with the results.

 

Why should I have a lawyer review a contract for my business?

The implications of terms in a contract are often difficult to foresee at the time of drafting and signing an agreement. It is our job to foresee both the implications of various clauses in a contract, as well as circumstances which might make the contract inadequately or improperly worded.

This perspective is difficult to have if you are familiar with contractual language or experienced with the issues that arise when things go wrong in a business relationship.

Please remember that the above FAQs are generalizations only, and are not intended to substitute for professional legal services and advice. Please contact Mann Lawyers LLP at 613-722-1500, or info@mannlawyers.com, with your specific questions.