FAQ - Real Estate Lawyers / Property Lawyers
  • Should we hold land as joint tenancy or tenants in common?

    You should decide whether you want to hold the property so that if one owner dies, the other takes that interest immediately (joint tenancy), or if you want the interest to flow through the estate (probate required) of that person (tenants in common). Usually for happy spouses, you would hold it as joint tenancy. In most other cases, such as brothers holding land, you want to be able to will the land to other people (such as children), so tenants in common should be used.

  • Should I get title insurance?

    Many property purchasers often wonder if they should buy title insurance. Banks/mortgage companies will want either a plot plan survey showing the house/buildings or will want a title insurance policy. But even if you aren't using a mortgage or have a plot plan survey, it may be a good idea to have a title insurance policy to protect you. They can protect against fraud, survey errors, underground issues (like your septic tank is actually on your neighbour's property), encroachments, and a host of other problems. The policies cost a few hundred dollars, but when you are investing thousands in your purchase, it may be a wise investment to tack on the insurance. We offer discounted rates on title insurance because of the volumn of property transactions we handle.

  • Any risks in buying shorefront property?

    Are you holding onto undeveloped shore front property in PEI? If you ever want to develop it (build a cottage), or sell it to someone (and no doubt they will want to build a cottage on it), keep in mind the following: Generally speaking, a building cannot be built within "75 feet (22.9 metres), or 60 times the annual rate of erosion" of the beach or bank. Because of this, you, or the person you hope will give you lots of big dollars for the land, may not be able to get a building permit. The government prescribes the "annual rate of erosion" based on where the land is. Keep this in mind. And if you are a buyer, you want to make the contract conditional on a proper assessment (site suitability and building permit).

  • What should I worry about when buying vacant land?

    If you plan on building on vacant land, the sale should be conditional on obtaining a building permit, PERC (septic tank soil test) test, among other things depending on the circumstances. The building permit is good for two years. The risk in not making it conditional on these items is that if you wait a few years then decide to build, you could then find out that you cannot even build on the land - and your investment was wasted. Now this is a rare occurrence, but it happens more often then you think. Say the government determines your land or part of it is "wetland" - this means you cannot build within so many feet of that area of the land. Another example is if it's shorefront and the rate of erosion and setbacks make the land virtually unusuable.

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FAQ - Wills and Estates Lawyers/ Probate Lawyers
  • Do I need a will?

    If you have property or children, you should have a will. A will disposes of your property on death, but is also important to indicate who you wish to become guardian of your children.

  • When do you need to probate an estate?

    The probate process gives the executor the authority to act on behalf of the estate. If there is land in the estate, it will need to be probated. If land was held in joint tenancy (usually with spouses), the land would flow directly and so no probate would be needed. Probate will also be needed where there is high value investments or RRSPs or other similar types of assets.

  • What is an executor?

    An executor is the person you appoint in your will to act on your behalf after your death. It should be someone you absolutely trust and that you have faith that he or she (or they) will follow the terms of your will. Executors have a lot of power to handle your property - so appointed someone you trust is essential.

  • What happens if a person become incompetent but do not have a power of attorney?

    If someone becomes incompetent and they never executed a power of attorney, the public trustee (a government official) then takes over to handle the affairs of that person. There is a process - generally two doctors must sign off that the person is incompetent. Having the public trustee manage your affairs is often not ideal, obviously, and fees are charged. However, a loved one or friend can make a court application to become committee and guardian of that person. The simple and obvious solution to avoid a court application and to avoid the public trustee from becoming involved is to execute a power of attorney before age or infirmity strike.

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