Art & Science

Written on July 5, 2013 – 5:25 am | by Elaine Blades

Scotiatrust’s Will & Estate Planners recently gathered in Toronto. The two and half day conference featured presentations by members of Scotiatrust’s head office and other areas of Wealth Management, and from external lawyers (including All About Estates contributor, Corina Weigl).

A broad range of topics and issues were covered, ranging from internal risk management and compliance practices to common errors in Will and trust drafting.

Some of the sessions were highly technical. Corina, for example, discussed the impact of U.S. “issues” on estate planning. These “issues” include Canadian resident testators who: are U.S. citizens; own U.S.-situs property; and/or wish to benefit U.S. residents.

Certain other presentations might be placed at the opposite or non-technical end of the spectrum.  That being said, these presentations were anything but boring or mundane.

Michael Henry of Henry Houser & Syron, LLP spoke about business sucession planning.  Although Mike provided a good overview of many of the technical issues:  ensuring company qualifies as a small business corporation for income tax purposes; maximizing capital gains exemption; various sale/transfer options etc., he chose to focus on the soft or non-technical side of business succession planning.  Mike touched on matters such as maintaining family harmony and choosing/grooming the right successor.  He devoted a significant amount of time to the fundamental issue of getting the business owner/entrepreneur to the table in the first place.  Mike had some very interesting stories and tips in this regard.

Two Senior Trust Officers from our Toronto Branch (Karen Dalgleish and Robert Treu) gave a presentation titled “Tips, Tricks & Pitfalls”.  Who knew funeral instructions (or lack thereof), the disposition of personal property and arrangements in respect of the one’s surviving pets could be so intriguing!  Karen and Robert had no shortage of interesting stories to tell.  If I could summarize their main message in one sentence it would be “make sure the Will is comprehensive and its terms practical and workable”.  Trust Officers are often heard to say ”if only the Will had (or hadn’t) said this (or that)”.

As readers of this blog will appreciate, estate planning and administration can be highly technical or “scientific”. What makes the field so fascinating – in my view at least – is the other side of the equation: the soft or non-technical issues.  The best practitioners never lose sight of the fact that estate planning and administration is both an art and a science.

Thanks for reading.

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