Ask Jennifer

Unless you are in the legal field, you probably don’t deal with legal issues very often. It stands to reason that you might have questions—even as basic as whether you even need a lawyer.

Here are a few of the questions Jennifer hears most often. To simplify things, we’ve broken it down into Jennifer’s two areas of specialization: real estate law and wills and estate administration.

If you have questions, Jennifer would be pleased to speak with you. You can contact her by email or by calling 613-237-0505, ext. 211.

Real Estate

If I am buying a house, why do I even need a lawyer?

Real estate transactions can often involve complex issues—from easements, access or title problems to mortgages, property restrictions and obligations. Your lawyer will make sure you have the knowledge to make sound decisions and will help protect your interests—and your dreams.

What do I need to know before I buy a condo?

Condominium transactions can present unique legal issues. Before you buy, make sure you have evidence of the financial health of the condominium corporation. If the condo is in a brand-new building, there are other potential problems that can arise, including the lack of a financial track record on the part of the condo corporation and the possibility of construction delays. That’s why it is especially important to ensure your legal rights are protected and your obligations properly understood.

When should I call in a lawyer?

The sooner you get legal advice, the sooner you can ensure your interests are being protected. Real estate transactions involve many people, any one of whom can make a serious mistake that can cost you time, money—even your property. Why let an error or oversight erupt into a full-blown legal dispute when, if caught early, you can avoid it all together? Get legal advice early to avoid such issues.

What is a title search?

After your offer has been accepted, your lawyer will need to perform a title search on the property. A title search involves examining the land registry records and legal documents to confirm that the seller is the legal owner of the property. It will also uncover what, if any, restrictions apply to the use of the property (such as easements), and determine if there are any claims or liens against the property.

What is title insurance?

Title insurance protects you (and the lender, if any) against financial loss due to particular, unforeseen problems that would affect the title to your property. Basically, it is an insurance policy that covers certain ownership-related risks, such as fraud, access issues and title impediments or defects. Most lenders require you to have title insurance before they will authorize the loan.

How much does it cost?

Some lawyers, including Jennifer, will provide you with a flat fixed fee for the legal work required to complete a sale or purchase of property, or to prepare a will. Our fees are very competitive and we will provide you with a written estimate of fees and expenses (such as the fees charged by the land registry office) that will explain exactly what is included.

What other costs are associated with purchasing a home?

The biggest fee is the land transfer tax, an amount that depends on the value of the home. While we make no guarantees, here are some real-life samples.

If your house is worthYou would pay

There are also expenses (disbursements) associated with obtaining copies of the title documents, deed registration, mortgage registration, execution certificates and title insurance.

Wills and Estate Administration

What is a will and why do I need one?

A legal and valid will is the best way to ensure your wishes are followed. In its simplest form, a will is a written explanation of how you want your estate (what you own) distributed after your death. If you don’t have a will, your estate will be distributed according to what is known as the “law of succession” in your province, and this may not be in keeping with your wishes. You also need a will to specify guardians for minor children, otherwise, someone, such as a family member, will have to apply to the court to be appointed guardian.

Do I need a lawyer to have a valid will?

Technically, no. But if your will is not prepared by an experienced lawyer, there is a risk it will not properly reflect your wishes. It could also be invalid or open to challenge. For example, the problem with using a will kit to prepare a will is that a kit does not know the questions to ask to warn you of potential problems. In addition, they may not reflect Ontario law. Having a lawyer prepare this important legal document helps ensure your wishes are clearly and accurately reflected, reducing the risk of disputes among those who may have a claim against your estate.

“I first met Jennifer when my mom and I saw her to update my mother’s will and powers of attorney. She was very respectful and kind to my mom, speaking to her directly.

“After my mom died, I saw Jennifer regarding probate and the disposition of the will. I found her to be kind and empathetic.

“Jennifer was knowledgeable and helpful with regard to the above. Her services were done in a timely way and her cost estimate was accurate.

“I enjoyed working with her.”

Sandi H., client