I had the privilege of chairing the Canadian Bar Association National Wills, Estates and Trusts Section meeting in Ottawa last weekend. The participants included the executive of the national section, and chairs of provincial and territorial wills, estates and trusts sections across Canada.
Our section is especially active in professional development and law reform.
This fall we held a webcast, entitled "The Changed Landscape: the Impact of New Tax Rules on Trusts and Estate Donations," and a four-day course in Toronto on "Wills, Estate and Trust Fundamentals for Estate Practitioners," which was sold out. At our meeting last weekend, we agreed to apply to hold a similar course again next year in Toronto, adding another day to the program. In future years, the section may hold this course in other parts of Canada.
Much of our focus on legislation and law reform is on taxation affecting estate planning and administration. This is a logical area for us to focus on nationally, because most other legislation affecting wills, estates and trusts is provincial, and varies from province-to-province. In the last few years, we have made submissions to the Department of Finance Canada concerning the proposal to eliminate graduated rates for testamentary trusts (except for the first three years of an estate), on reforms to encourage charitable giving, and to the Canada Revenue Agency in respect of its policies on Canada Pension Plan remissions in respect of remuneration received by personal representatives of estates.
Last weekend, we struck up a committee to look at further submissions to Finance Canada concerning the changes to taxation of life interest trusts (I have written about some of the significant problems the changes will pose to estate plans here).
One project unique to our section is the National Wills, Estates and Trusts – Succession Law: Tables of National Concordance. These tables set out a summary of laws relating to succession and incapacity planning for each province and territory. To list just a few, the tables include summaries of legislation governing the formal validity of wills, procedures for obtaining an estate grant, the distribution of assets on an intestacy, and requirements for making valid enduring powers of attorney. The tables are accessible by all members of the Canadian Bar Association, and are also published by Carswell.
This summer, our then chair Rosie Dikeakos accepted on behalf of our section the National Sections Council Award of Excellence.
You may read more about the National Wills, Estates and Trusts Section on the Canadian Bar Association website here.