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Mortgages

You’ve decided that you’re finally ready for home ownership, but you need additional financing to make your dream a reality. Financing in the form of mortgages, while common, can be a confusing and stressful process. There are costs involved, there is debt, and there are some things everyone should be aware of and understand before taking on a mortgage.

Your Yeti Law Legal Sherpa® has the experience and the expertise to guide you through the application process, and to make your mortgage manageable. You can be assured that with the help of your Legal Sherpa®, you will have all the facts, know the potential risks, and will be best prepared to move forward with your mortgage.

Why Involve your Lawyer?

A qualified real estate lawyer, like your Legal Sherpa®, will walk you through the mortgage process from start to finish, answering questions and addressing concerns regarding what is being borrowed. It’s important to understand the specifics of what is being borrowed, as it is sometimes obscured by complexity. The complete terms of the mortgage are also important to read carefully. A mortgage may contain very specific terms and clauses, which can make the specifics difficult to understand if you are inexperienced in dealing with legal jargon.

You may have questions about the benefits of a fixed term vs. a variable interest rate. You may need to understand the terms of repayment, as they can be very specific, and it’s best to know what they state in detail. You may have questions about refinancing, about transferring your mortgage to another lender, about the status of your mortgage if you choose to sell, or even about penalties surrounding early repayment. You may be planning to rent your property, and are concerned that the mortgage’s terms may prevent rental to tenants for the duration of the mortgage term. Your Legal Sherpa® has answers to these, and any other questions that might arise.

Your lawyer should also outline any and all risks associated with the mortgage, and have the ability to inform you as to what is currently on the title to the home.

Areas of Potential Concern

Mortgage Discharge

One very important element of the mortgage process is ensuring the discharge of any mortgage held by the previous owners. Failure to do so will seriously and negatively impact your ability to sell the property in the future. Your Legal Sherpa® can confirm the status of the property, and determine if there are any entanglements with previously undischarged mortgages and work to discharge any if they are found.

Title Insurance

Some lenders may require title insurance. Although the benefits of title insurance usually far outweigh the cost, in this instance, it’s likely that this will be a lender’s policy which, by nature, is set up to protect the lender

rather than you. Your lawyer can help you find financial protection in the event there is a title problem that may impact you financially.

Mortgage Fraud

Though uncommon, mortgage fraud is a pitfall that can lead to serious debt. In some cases, a third party has managed to transfer the title into their own name, allowing them to borrow heavily against the mortgage. It’s a frightening possibility, and another reason to involve a lawyer in the mortgage process as your lawyer will have tools at their disposal, such as performing a title search, to flag any potential mortgage fraud issues.

Best Practices and Forward Planning

By partnering with your real estate Legal Sherpa® lawyer, you can alleviate your stress even further by walking through mortgage best practices, and build a personalized strategy for saving and repayment in order to ensure that you are paid off as soon as possible.

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Buying a Condominium

The dream of home ownership isn’t the same for every prospective home buyer. Some want a yard to mow, a garden to tend, and all the trappings that come with a house. Others may wish to forgo that and choose a housing situation more suited to their lifestyle and personality such as a condominium.

If you are considering the purchase of a home, and you think a condo may be the right fit for you, reach out to your Legal Sherpa® at Yeti Law. Involving a lawyer early in the purchase of any real estate transaction is always advisable to ensure your interests as the purchaser are protected. Our Legal Sherpa® team is committed to working with you, and providing whatever guidance we can to ensure you will be happy with the choices you make.

Is a Condo Right for You?

For many, a condo offers a very appealing lifestyle due to the simplicity of maintenance. Some condos can be every bit as spacious and luxurious as a house, but located in much more exciting and convenient locations. And let’s not forget the view.

But slow down, not everyone is well-suited for condo living. Avail yourself of your Legal Sherpa® at Yeti Law in Toronto to learn about the pros and cons of living in a condominium. You should expect closer contact with neighbours, more communal living, more rules, and more regulations. You may encounter restrictions on pets or age restrictions. You may encounter restrictions on renting or subletting. You may be freed from maintenance and upkeep, but that comes at a cost, in the form of condominium fees. You may also be paying for parking and a storage locker that you may or may not need.

The Status Certificate

If you are considering the purchase of a condo, it is important that you carefully review the condominium status certificate with an experienced real estate lawyer. The status certificate sets out critical information that will give you insight into how the condo is being managed, whether there are sufficient funds in reserve to cover maintenance and future improvements and details about your voting rights. Status certificates are often lengthy and complex but your Legal Sherpa® will ensure you understand all of your legal rights and responsibilities so you can make a fully informed decision.

New Condo Build and Interim Occupancy Fees

If you are purchasing a new condominium, you may be purchasing it based solely on floor plans. In this respect, it is similar to buying a house from a builder but there are differences, the most notable being interim occupancy fees.

Occupancy fees come as the result of land registry issues in Ontario. Until the land is legally registered, you cannot technically take ownership, even if you take up residence. The occupancy period is usually somewhere around 6 months, but there is no way to be sure precisely how long it will be.

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New House vs. Resale

The consideration of buying a new house from a builder versus buying a house from the retail market can come from personal preference, or may be budgetary, or may stem from some related decision, such as the desire to purchase based on location. In any event, it helps to know what to expect in order to make the most informed decision.

Buying a New Home from a Builder

The most obvious benefit of a new home is the newness. Because all of the components are freshly installed and new, people often invest in a new home for the peace of mind of knowing that significant, costly repairs will likely not be required for years to come. If for some reason major repairs are required, they are usually covered by the new home warranty. Another perk of buying a new home, is the ability to adjust the layout of the house, depending on the stage of construction at which you purchase the home.

There are some drawbacks with new home ownership, however. For example, unless your contract states otherwise, most new construction homes are often bare bones in terms of upgrades and come with builder-grade products that use cheaper materials and are lower quality. Basic features such as light switch covers, toilet paper holders, shower rods/doors, bathroom mirrors and garage door openers are often not included in the price of a new build. Whenever you buy a newly built home, you should also be prepared that there could be construction delays. Even once you move in, elements of construction might be unfinished such as the sodding and driveway. The neighbourhood itself may also be unfinished requiring you to live in what can feel like a construction zone.

By involving your real estate lawyer early in the process, your Legal Sherpa® can ensure the conditions of the contract are clear and unambiguous so you know exactly what to expect when you take ownership.

Buying a Resale House

There are many benefits to buying a previously loved home. Many people prefer the character and charm of an older home. And unlike buying a house from the developer, resale homes often include many extras like landscaping, fencing, finished basements and if you’re lucky, a swimming pool. Resale homes are also often in established neighbourhoods with mature trees and easy access to amenities. Maybe one of the biggest perks of buying a previously owned home is not having to pay HST.

On the flip side, when you buy a previously owned home, you inherit the good and the bad. Older homes typically require more maintenance as older items break or wear out and may require renovations, large repairs or replacements on costly items such as the roof, foundation, furnace, air conditioning, and major appliances. For this reason, home inspections are always advisable, whether buying new or resale, but they are especially important for older homes. Beyond major faults, there is also simple wear and tear on surfaces and components. Older homes also tend to be less energy-efficient, which makes them more costly to operate on a daily basis.

Buying a home on the retail market can come with a wide variety of questions and concerns. Your Legal Sherpa® has answers to your questions, knows the potential hazards involved in this type of purchase, and has the experience and expertise to help you avoid them.

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Buying Real Estate

The purchase and sale of real estate, though closely tied, can be very different experiences. Both sides of the same coin, they have similar, but different concerns. Just as you trust your Legal Sherpa from Yeti Law to guide you in the sale of real estate, you can also trust your Legal Sherpa® to guide you through the purchase of real estate.

Preparation is key, given the size and scope of the purchase. There’s no better place to start than with your Legal Sherpa®. Where you have questions, your Legal Sherpa® has answers. Where you have fears or reservations, your Legal Sherpa® has the experience and expertise to overcome obstacles.

The Purchase and Sale Agreement

The purchase agreement is central to the purchase of a property. You could use a bare-bones standardized form, but this almost always leaves a lot to be desired and too much room for ambiguity. You will most certainly want to have a trusted, experienced real estate lawyer like your Legal Sherpa® review the agreement, and amend it so that it best represents your interests as the buyer. Your agreement should be as clear and specific as possible with regard to terms and conditions, pricing, timelines, and any special arrangements you may have with the seller.

But it doesn’t end with one simple document. The sale of real estate is, at its core, a complex negotiation. Through the process, from informal agreement to formal written contract, there will be a great deal of push and pull, and it can take time, energy, discussion and likely some compromise to satisfy all parties before the sale is complete and the property is transferred. Having the guidance of your Legal Sherpa® throughout the process can alleviate stress and ensure that your interests are protected.

Other Considerations Where Yeti Law Can Provide Assistance

  • Newly Built House or Retail Market Sale – You may have a preference, but it can’t hurt to weigh your options, as there can be significant differences between the two types of purchase.
  • House or Condo – You may already be envisioning yourself in one or the other, but it’s never too late to investigate or ask questions. There are pros and cons for both, but only you can make that decision. Be sure to make an informed choice.
  • Mortgage – Most home buyers finance the purchase of their home through a mortgage. A qualified real estate lawyer from Yeti Law can guide you through the mortgage process.
  • Title Insurance – Your lawyer can perform a title search, and can present you with title insurance options. Title insurance is well worth the cost, and easily worth your time to ask your Legal Sherpa®.
  • Additional Assistance – Your Legal Sherpa® can assist you in securing property tax information, property insurance information, and answer any building and zoning questions.

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Selling Real Estate

Logically, we tend to group the buying and selling of real estate together. It is the same event viewed from opposing sides of the bargaining table. But treating a sale like a purchase simply isn’t feasible. It’s a different experience, with its own set of challenges and potential hurdles to overcome. Your Legal Sherpa® from Yeti Law has the expertise to guide you past these hurdles, and understands how the needs of the seller differ from the needs of the buyer.

Clarity of the Purchase & Sale Agreement

Given the importance of the Purchase & Sale agreement, your best course of action is to have a trusted, experienced lawyer like your Legal Sherpa® assist in drafting the agreement to ensure it accurately reflects your goals as the seller. Even if you are working with a real estate agent, it is always a good idea to have a lawyer review the agreement.

The agreement should outline terms and conditions, pricing, timelines, and any special arrangements you may have with the buyer. The clear and specific language found in a custom agreement drafted by your Legal Sherpa® will be far more precise and better reflect your intentions than a bare bones standardized form. It’s this level of clarity and specificity that will offer you the greatest protection and minimize potential disagreements. For example, a feature you consider a chattel (personal possession), may be construed by the buyer as a fixture (equipment or furniture that is fixed in position), which could lead to problems if you intend to remove said feature from the property. Yeti Law can protect you from any such disagreements with a clear and concise agreement.

Negotiating the Purchase & Sale Agreement

Real estate sales can quickly turn into heated negotiations. Unlike a real estate agent who may be representing both you and the buyer, your Legal Sherpa® will always advocate exclusively on your behalf. You will never have to concern yourself with your Legal Sherpa’s® motive, and you will never have to worry about possible conflicts resulting from dual agency — your Legal Sherpa® always works for you, and only for you, in the negotiation of your sale.

Keep in mind, there is more to the negotiation than merely getting you the best price. It’s a complex process, with a lot of back and forth, which can be difficult to navigate without a lawyer acting as your guide. Your team at Yeti Law has the specialized experience and knowledge to prevent sales negotiations from overwhelming you.

There will also be multiple opportunities during the process to amend and review the agreements to ensure that the agreement remains acceptable to you, and that any amendments called for don’t negatively impact you in some unforeseen way. Your Legal Sherpa® will ensure that you remain protected throughout the process.

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Cultural Property

You may find that you have, or are developing, an interest in art and culture, both local and foreign. In our journeys, we sometimes find ourselves accumulating art and artifacts which emotionally affect us, or that remind us of places we’ve visited, or that we simply find aesthetically pleasing. Be aware that buying and selling cultural property and art is no longer as simple or as secure as a hand shake and an assumption of good faith.

Cultural property law is a niche area of law, and one that is highly regulated. For this reason, it is important to work with an experienced cultural property lawyer. Yeti Law is one of very few firms practicing in this area and as a result, our Legal Sherpas® have amassed a great deal of knowledge and expertise. You’ll find that at Yeti Law, we share your passion for art and culture, and we don’t want to see anyone prevented from pursuing what they love for fear of complex regulations or impenetrable jargon. Our goal is to clarify, simplify, and allow our clients to focus on what matters most: the art.

Understanding the Legal Issues Surround Ownership of Art

It’s important to have the ability to trace ownership of art. Without the ability to track or trace the provenance of a work of art, it becomes very difficult to determine if there are any issues that come attached to the art or artefact. Illegally obtained items now face legacy issues that must be addressed if they are to change hands. These can be difficult to resolve in litigation due to issues of proof when documentation is lacking.

Understandably, art and other cultural property tends to have inherent value. This value can come from age, cultural importance, historical importance, rarity. Some safeguards have been put into place to protect cultural property. Safeguards such as the 1954 Hague Convention, the 1970 UNESCO Convention, and Canada’s Cultural Property Import and Export Act. As a signatory of both the Hague and UNESCO conventions, Canada takes its responsibilities in the care and protection of cultural properties very seriously.

Importing Cultural Property

The Cultural Property Import and Export Act specifies that the import of certain items into Canada may be illegal if those items are banned for export by their country of origin. Items such as antiques, fossils, or ivory goods may be illegal to import, as are items that violate the UNESCO Conventions, such as items that have been stolen or looted in war or conflict.

Cultural property without the proper documentation can be significantly delayed, or detained. The import of cultural property that has been illegally exported from a foreign country can even bring criminal charges.

Exporting Cultural Property

In Canada, a cultural property export permit is required to export any controlled cultural property. Criminal charges may be applied for attempts to export cultural property without a valid permit.

Without specific expertise in this area that comes from years of dealing with cultural property, it can be difficult to determine if the art or artefacts you wish to export qualify as cultural property. Works may be deemed cultural property and may fall subject to export control if they are more than 50 years old, or if their creator is deceased. These items may be objects removed from the soil or water, cultural objects (such as aboriginal artefacts), military objects, works of fine art, or any of a number of other items outlined in the Canadian Cultural Property Export Control List.

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Estate Administration

Administering an estate without experience or guidance, and carrying out your duties as an executor can be a herculean task. The role of the estate trustee or executor can actually be summed up in four words: funeral, taxation, debt, and beneficiaries. These four responsibilities are the foundation of your role. Of course, as with all things, it’s never quite that simple.

What to Expect When Administering an Estate

As the trustee or executor, you will need to locate and review the Will, determine if there are any issues with the Will and/or if it needs to be probated, make any and all funerary arrangements, determine any immediate requirements for surviving family (such as short term cash or other assistance), obtain or apply for a death certificate, and determine if the Will should be validated by the courts.

You will be responsible for contacting beneficiaries. You will likely need to establish an estate account for the disbursement of estate funds. You will need to establish a timeline for time limitations on claims against the estate. You will need to take a complete inventory of the estate and appraise all cash and non-cash assets. You will need to determine if there are any foreign assets in the estate, and determine how those should be handled. You will need to use your appraisal to determine the appropriate estate administration tax. You will need to determine those elements of the estate that are most pressing and need the most immediate action, and then take the appropriate course of action (usually the most immediate concerns involve the securing of assets, business interests, investments, real estate, etc.). You will need to distribute the remaining funds, pay any outstanding fees, and finally, close the estate account. And you will need to do all of this while keeping accurate records of the process.

The courts, not to mention the beneficiaries, take proper administration of the will very seriously. It’s not uncommon for executors to try to voluntarily remove themselves when they find themselves unable to deal with the duties at hand. It’s also possible for an administrator to be involuntarily removed by the courts if they are deemed to be causing harm to the estate either through improper or prejudicial action, or even through a lack of action. The removal of an executor isn’t a simple thing, and shouldn’t be undertaken lightly, but it should also underscore the importance of the role of the executor in the process.

Seek Guidance from a Knowledgeable Estate Lawyer

You don’t have to do it alone. Your experienced Legal Sherpa® from Yeti Law can be counted on to guide you through this process and relieve some of the burden that this entails. You will undoubtedly have questions, and your Legal Sherpa® will have answers.

Your Legal Sherpa® can assist with questions or concerns regarding:

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Real Estate Services

Our homes represent more than just shelter and security. For most of us, our homes are the most significant and valuable assets we own. As such, when entering into the sale or purchase of property, it’s a wise choice to seek the guidance of an experienced real estate lawyer who will have your best interests in mind. Many people make the mistake of putting themselves exclusively in the hands of real estate agents, which might leave them at a disadvantage. Real estate agents can be licensed with little in the way of education, and will not be as informed or as skilled as your Legal Sherpa® when it comes to the legal complexities involved in the purchase or sale of property.

Always involve a trusted lawyer as early in the process as possible. You are best protected and best informed if your lawyer is assisting in the drafting of an offer rather than simply reviewing an offer after it has been accepted. If you’re interested in buying or selling real estate, don’t hesitate to call Yeti Law sooner rather than later.

Hidden Complexities

Property can come with strings attached. Sometimes property lines are unclear or in dispute. Sometimes there are encumbrances in place such as liens, easements (rights of way), or encroachments. What rights are in place to protect or secure property from the owners of neighbouring properties?

A knowledgeable and experienced legal real estate team, like the Legal Sherpas® at Yeti Law, will walk with you to ensure you avoid any hidden entanglements that would otherwise cost you time and money.

The Difference your Toronto Legal Sherpas® Make

Property sales in Toronto come with their own specific challenges. You need the help of someone who can assist you with Toronto-specific concerns such as the Municipal Land Transfer Tax, an additional land transfer tax specific to Toronto properties. Don’t be taken by surprise. Trust your Legal Sherpa® team to guide you through the process.

Don’t Get Lost in the Details

The purchase and/or sale of a house, condominium or other property is a complex affair. On its own, it’s stressful enough, but then add the complexity of relocating yourself, your belongings, and your family. The stress adds up quickly and it can feel as though you’re being buried under an avalanche of tiny details. It’s a process that can be overwhelming. Did you remember to discontinue services? Utilities? Mail? The delivery of newspaper to your old address? There always seems to be more to deal with than there is time in the day, and it seems inevitable that something will be forgotten, left undone, or left behind. This is another thing that sets Yeti Law apart: we will be there for the big as well as the small. We can help you manage the reality of the move, as well as the legality of the sale.

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Estate Planning & Forward Planning

Death is sometimes described as life’s last great journey, and though it’s rarely a journey we look forward to taking, it is one we should all be prepared to take. When it comes to legal preparations, our biggest concern should lie in making those preparations early, in consideration of those we leave behind to ensure we protect our loved ones as best we can.

Illness, incapacity, and death are uncomfortable topics, but your Legal Sherpa® is there for you, to walk with you and lead you to the completion of a comprehensive solution for your estate plan. At some point in everyone’s life, certain difficult questions must be answered. With some help and support from Yeti Law, you will find a proper resolution to those questions and rest easy knowing they are no longer a concern. Questions such as:

  • Who will act as the Power of Attorney for your property?
  • Who will act as the Power of Attorney for your personal care?
  • Who will speak for you when you cannot speak for yourself?
  • Who will care for your children? Your loved ones? Your pets?
  • Who will care for those dependents with special care needs?

A Holistic Approach to Estate Planning in Toronto

We approach things differently at Yeti Law. We view estate planning as an ongoing process rather than a single task to be completed. For this reason, at Yeti Law, we refer to estate planning as Forward Planning, which more aptly describes the process.

The forward planning process is one that should be personal. Our Legal Sherpas® begin with you and your family and your social network. We begin with what we call a People Plan, which includes all of the people you have named in your Will(s) and Power of Attorney. The People Plan builds on your Family Tree as well as your Family of Choice. To better understand your needs, your goals, and your situation, we have found it to be tremendously helpful to build a web that defines the people and relationships in your life. With a clear picture of relationships mapped out, we can build an approach that satisfies your financial, practical, and emotional goals, and we can help you to implement those goals into a sound estate plan.

Protection and Peace of Mind

Forward Planning generally encompasses important tools such as Wills, advanced care directives (such as Living Wills), and trusts. While it’s true that simple guides or kits can be found that offer to resolve your concerns regarding the future of your estate, it should be stressed that this is a complex area of law that carries very real consequences if not handled with the utmost care by an experienced lawyer with a background in estates.

An improperly prepared Will can bring with it a host of unforeseen dangers. Errors, oversights, or even imprecise language may cost time and money as your intended beneficiaries resolve to clarify the distribution of assets. Even worse, errors can lead to disputes, and disputes can tie those very same assets up in litigation for months or even years. The months or years spent resolving disputes represents time that the disputed assets will be frozen and unavailable to the intended beneficiaries. Perhaps most troubling, depending on the resolution of the dispute, your beneficiaries — your loved ones — may ultimately not be the ones to inherit your assets. Having a guide who can help you avoid these dangers can be invaluable.

Is it Time to Renew your Estate Plan?

Having a Will and a Living Will can provide you with a sense of security. It can feel good knowing there is a plan in place for the worst possible scenarios, but for most people a Will shouldn’t be a single document written once and then set aside until needed. Wills should be updated to reflect the kinds of life changes we all experience. Significant life changes are often an excellent time to revisit your estate planning to ensure it remains legal and relevant, and that your loved ones remain protected and cared for. It is advisable to speak with a Legal Sherpa® at Yeti Law after major life changes such as:

  • marriage
  • divorce
  • significant changes to your financial situation
  • the birth of children
  • death in the family

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