What Is Probate?

A common question lawyers are frequently asked is, “what is probate?” When someone passes away in British Columbia, typically the deceased’s sole assets (i.e. bank accounts and property) cannot be dealt with until the deceased’s personal representative (i.e. the executor if there is a will and the administrator if there is no will) applies to the court for a Grant of Probate.

A Grant of Probate is essentially a certificate issued by the court that certifies that the deceased’s will is valid. Financial institutions and the Land Title Office generally require that the executor produce a Grant of Probate, prior to allowing the executor to deal with the deceased’s assets.

In order to have the court certify that the will is valid, the executor must submit a number of documents to the court for the court’s review. These often include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • An affidavit which has general information about the deceased, the executor and the probate application;
  • An affidavit of the executor stating the amount and location of the deceased’s assets and liabilities; and
  • An affidavit stating that the beneficiaries have been made aware of the probate application.

A notice is then provided to the beneficiaries notifying them of the probate application and their rights. Once the court has reviewed and approved the probate application, the court will advise the executor what probate fees are payable by the deceased’s estate. Once the probate fees are paid, the Grant of Probate will be issued and the executor may begin dealing with the deceased’s assets by:

  • Calling in (or liquidating) assets;
  • Paying debts of the deceased and the estate;
  • Paying taxes for the deceased and the estate;
  • Distributing assets to the beneficiaries; and
  • Applying for a clearance certificate from CRA.

If someone passes without a will, the process described may still be required (depending on whether the deceased individual had any assets in his or her sole name and the value of such assets); however, rather than applying for a Grant of “Probate,” an interested party would need to apply to a court to (a) be appointed as the “administrator” (as opposed to the “executor”) of the deceased’s estate and (b) to request that the court issue a Grant of “Administration” (as opposed to a Grant of “Probate”).

This is a brief summary of one of several steps involved in dealing with a deceased individual’s assets. Lawyers specializing in this work, not only act as legal counsel for executors of estates but we also act as executors for estates.

Corporate Gifts that Stand Out

Remarkable corporate gifts from creative cakes Duncan BC

When you think about corporate gifts, what’s the first thing that usually comes to mind? Probably cookie cutter gift baskets at Christmas, right? Traditionally that is the common time to do appreciation gifts. But is that the best time and is your basket really being appreciated and remembered? If that’s when you’re doing your gifting, you are likely not getting the best bang for your buck!

With so many corporate gifts being given at Christmas time you can easily get lost in the shuffle. Often gifting companies are also very busy during that time so even if you wanted something less cookie cutter you’d have to pay a premium.

So where does that leave you then? Not bothering? Certainly not, there are great options to help you be memorable!

To stand out do more personalized gifts for your clients, suppliers, or special connections. This can certainly be a more expensive option, but if you have the budget, it’s the way to go! That said, there are also ways to make it more affordable. If you use the same company for the gifts each time you can make a special arrangement with them with the promise of regular buying, even a contract perhaps. By guaranteeing them regular business they’re more likely to be willing to discuss price discounts.

If you’re able to do the personalized gifts the best way to do it is to find out the time the recipient would most appreciate the gift. Gifting to an accountant? Why not some edible treats the last few days of April when they’re the busiest for tax season? Have a florist to gift to? Similar thought can apply to them near Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day when they’re crazy busy. Find out when they’d appreciate it the most and give them a gift. Not only would it be more appreciated but it would really stand out from the crowd and be remembered.

Don’t have the budget for personalized gifts throughout the year? There’s still a great way to stand out and it’s simply to gift at a different time. Perhaps being thankful at thanksgiving or even ringing in spring with a special treat. It can even be something more personal to you, perhaps your company’s anniversary. Pick a date that works for you and your budget. Many companies can be really quiet during December and not have the budget for gifting then, by picking a different time of year you can pick the time you also have a budget for it!

Any corporate gifting company would be happy to chat with you about ideas and ways to make your gifts special.

So, when you’re thinking corporate gifts next, maybe leave Christmas to just Christmas cards and pick a better time to stand out from the crowd!

Canadian Mortgage Game-Changer

Canadian Mortgage Game Changing Overnight

Bill Morneau, the Minister of Finance, announced changes to insured mortgages on Monday morning that will have a major impact on Canadians.  The government’s attempt at cooling a hot housing market as a result of their lack of regulation where foreign buyers are concerned will now penalize Canadians. The changes don’t only make it far more difficult to obtain a Canadian mortgage as a new home owner but it may take away the ability of Canadians to manage the equity in their homes and to access fair competition upon renewal of their Canadian mortgage.  Vancouver and Toronto are not the only housing markets to consider.  Canada is a big country.

Mortgage Rates Almost Double

Any purchase less than 20% down requires default insurance provided by either CMHC, Genworth or Canada Guarantee.  As of October 17, 2016, any buyer with less than 20% down must qualify at the benchmark rate that the Bank of Canada sets (currently 4.64%).  Today any buyer who takes a 5 year fixed term can qualify at the contract rate (average of 2.44%).  For variable rates and terms less than 5 years, the benchmark rate must be used to qualify.

The Canadian mortgage business is made up of a few players – insurers, non-bank lenders (monolines), banks and local credit unions.  Monoline lenders currently “blanket” insure their mortgages to mitigate risk and attract investors regardless of the amount of equity in the property.  Banks do not have to insure their low ratio mortgages (more than 20% equity).

If monoline lenders continue to blanket insure their mortgages, ALL of their borrowers must qualify at 4.64% at a 25 year amortization.  Also, the way it currently appears is that refinances or rentals will no longer be insured.  That could mean that you can no longer take equity out of your house for a renovation or investment or consolidate that 19% credit card debt that the government continues to ignore.  If they are so worried about the Canadian debt load, why are we still paying 19% on credit cards?  Why is there no proof of credit or income required to qualify for a credit card??

Another Step Towards Bank Monopoly?

WAIT!  – if you want to take equity out of your house or debt consolidate, you can still go to a bank if you want!  If banks monopolize the Canadian mortgage market going forward,  the competition for your business will disappear and the banks will control what you pay.  The bank profits continue to soar while the Canadian consumer debt gets higher.  Where is the balance?

And to top it all off, the biggest players in this decision were not consulted or advised.  Insurers, lenders and brokers all found out at the same time Monday morning and are scrambling to figure out what exactly it all means to their business and their clients.  We are still waiting to find out exactly how the lenders will handle the changes and how exactly how it will affect you.

Business for Business Networks – A 21st Century Organization

Welcome to a business network built on trust and business knowledge

Business For Business works because of our culture.

Started in 2005 by Michael Watkins, Tony Joe & Clemens Rettich in Victoria BC, the group wanted regular business networking without what we saw as the ‘bowing and scraping’ in other business networking organizations: too many rules, too much emphasis on ritual, and heavy-handed sales tactics.

We wanted an organization where the focus was on growing businesses by growing relationships and business knowledge. We wanted an organization that treated its members as professional adults. That’s our culture.

The Business For Business ‘special sauce’ is members sharing and engaging at the weekly roundtable discussion. These are an opportunity to learn about other members and their businesses, their challenges, successes and secrets.

We believe relationships built on trust and knowledge are the roots of successful networks and successful businesses.  

The meetings are fun, informative, and casual. There is a lot of laughter, and over-the-top value in the business tips everyone exchanges. As the leaders value is everything to us. Not only do we do everything we can to provide a ton of value to our members we keep prices far lower than other formal business networks.

We currently have four business network groups in Duncan and Victoria with new groups starting up in Nanaimo, Sidney, and New Westminster. Our goal is to become an international network. We are always looking for leaders to start up new groups in their communities.

As a real 21st century organization we also believe in the power of online tools for networking. We provide marketing support, an online internal chat network, a website for members, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts and so much more. For example members have the opportunity to meet with in a Google Hangout with other members from all of the groups and an experienced business advisor once a month. No charge. It’s just another benefit of membership.

Our members are passionate about their businesses and about the success of other members.

Stop networking and start building a network. We are always looking for business leaders in new communities to lead a Business For Business Networks local group. Interested? Drop us a line: info@bforbnetworks.com.

Why You Should Blog For Your Business

blogging for business

At Business for Business Networks we are huge supporters of business blogging! We encourage our members to send links to their blogs, or if they don’t have one we are happy to post articles on their behalf on the Business for Business Networks website.

Business owners wonder what specifically business blogging is. Business blogging is marketing to get more online visibility (essentially popping up more and more frequently on social media, search engines and driving traffic back to the main website). All the blog needs to be is a piece of short form content related to your business. It is important to realize that this isn’t and will never be a primary revenue source, it is marketing to support growth.

Market visibility results because more website pages mean more chances to be found in search engines. Blogs create website pages but keep them in a neat section of your business’ website so it doesn’t get cluttered, keeping a user friendly experience. Every new blog article is a new opportunity to pop up in a search, and drive traffic back to your business. To help the traffic on your blog turn into leads have a call to action button (“buy now”, “subscribe” etc. links) at the bottom of your blog page.

Good blogs create a sense of authority by answering common questions, and creating helpful content for their target audience. This generates authority and word of mouth as the articles get shared. Good word of mouth is everything! It also creates a sense of trust because people feel as if you’ve helped them before they ever actually bought anything or reached out to you. Blogs never expire, or go away unless you delete them so they can generate leads for years to come (70% of traffic generated is from older posts, not within the month). Blogs are also a great way to test the waters with ideas or campaigns before going whole hog with them.

At Business For Business Networks we believe in the power of business blogging. Whether you are a veteran business blogger, dabbling, or just getting started, we encourage members to submit their articles and grow!

Personal and Business Issues in Coaching

business and personal coaching with Don Goodeve

Working with a client recently, he remarked at the end of a particularly powerful coaching session he was amazed to find how many of his ‘business’ issues were actually personal issues in disguise. I do not think this any accident.

An amazing thing about our minds and the way we are in the world is how we do not compartmentalize nearly as much as we think. We may come in through the door at 5:30pm and ‘leave work behind’, however it is the same being that is now operating in a different environment. Can we really expect who you are ‘at work’ and ‘at home’ (or at the bank, the gym, the doctor’s office) to be so different?

WHO YOU ARE HERE IS WHO YOU ARE EVERYWHERE

Superficially; at the level of content these can look very different: handling a direct-report regarding a work milestone or your son about cleaning their room. Coding or cooking dinner. Talking to your significant other or planning a business meeting. However how you are being in all of these situations is intimately related. At a fundamental level your mind does not distinguish; how you are here is how you are everywhere.

So whether I am coaching someone to a milestone in building their business or supporting them in creating an action plan for them conquering a fitness goal – the conversation is fundamentally the same. If you are holding back or under-performing in one place, it is likely that the same patterns of thinking and behavior are surfacing in many other situations too.

The great news is taking on those issues in one area and creating a breakthrough is not localized to just that area. Life cannot help it – you create a breakthrough here, you create a breakthrough EVERYWHERE.

COACH THE PERSON AND THE BUSINESS FOLLOWS

So to the core point – how do you know if you are facing a business issue or a personal issue? They are, I assert, ALL PERSONAL. Concentrating on the business at the expense of the personal does not work. Coaching the personal in the context of business does.

So – how does this apply? If you or someone in your organization are getting stuck on business challenges; then working on process without focus on the personal may yield limited results, and the results that come may be unsustainable. Same person, new process – the person implementing the process will leave their indelible imprint on it. Conversely, you shift the person – this imprint will shift. It may have nothing to do with the process. You shift the person, you shift their results everywhere.

BUSINESS RESULTS FOLLOW INDIVIDUAL RESULTS

If you call forward the creative engaged individual the organization gains by both shifting the immediate issue AND by accessing the fully engaged focus of an empowered human being. The results of that double-shift are both bottom-line and PRICELESS!

It is all about people – coach people and see profound business results…

Fork In The Road: The Right Choice For Your Spine?

spinal health - make a decision

FORK IN THE ROAD

Imagine you are on a road trip, driving along in the middle of nowhere, when all of a sudden you come to a fork in the road.

A sign by the left-hand fork reads: “Frequent bits of rough road ahead, increasing in frequency and difficulty. VERY difficult travel towards the end. Estimated cost of vehicle repairs: $200-$500 for each quick fix, until patching is no longer possible.”

The right fork also has a sign. It reads: “Challenging road at the beginning, followed by occasional minor bits of rough road to the end. Estimated cost of vehicle repairs: $2000-$5000.”

Assuming they both end up in the same place, which fork would you choose?

As a chiropractor, it has been my experience that many people go through the same decision-making process with their choice of spinal care. The easy, little-money-up-front option may be appealing, but is it ultimately the best choice?

The fact is, most back and neck pain is the direct result of years of neglect: disuse, misuse, abuse and no use. To undo these years of damage to the spine requires a lengthy commitment of hard work and, yes, money.  Patients who wait for the pain to go away or choose quick “patch jobs” seldom get lasting relief. Ignoring or patching a spinal problem means the problem remains uncorrected, and these patients discover that as time goes by, their pain gets worse, lasts longer and occurs more frequently. Chronic pain and disability can result.

Which fork in the road is right for you?  Only you can decide.

Choose wisely.

 

5 Ways Freshbooks Makes Your Life Easier

relax let freshbooks take care of your small business finances

As a small business owner you need to invoice quickly and keep track of your time and expenses efficiently. Some entrepreneurs start with Excel and move to Quickbooks as things get busier. If you’re not an accountant Quickbooks can be complicated and frustrating. All the data entry and balancing are time consuming.

Freshbooks is simple, efficient accounting software developed with the small business owner in mind. It is intuitive with a mobile component and a help desk that actually answers the phone. That’s cause for celebration.

Invoicing

Invoicing is a dream! If your price list has hundreds of items, don’t worry about the data entry. Just send it to Freshbooks and they’ll input the items for you. Yippee! You can invoice in USD when you have American clients. You can set up recurring invoices for regular clients. Use the mobile app to invoice from the coffee shop or from your car after your consultation.  Set up automatic reminders for your unpaid invoices.

Do you need to send out quotes for your business? Freshbooks has “Estimates” and they are easily converted to an invoice once you get the job.

It’s amazing how all these tools get you paid faster.

Payments

You can accept credit card payments without the hassle of using separate programs. It’s all in one place and the rates are competitive. Track your payments from your phone and your client receives an email receipt. 

Expenses

With Freshbooks you enter expenses on your phone as they happen. Leaving a meeting? Get in the car, take a photo of your coffee receipt or your parking receipt and enter it on the spot! Your receipts are all online and accessible to your accountant if you are ever audited. You can also sync most credit card or bank statements with Freshbooks.  Create “recurring expenses” so that your Dropbox, Google, or Freshbooks fees are entered monthly. Problem solved!

Time Tracking

Keep track of your time for billing clients and watch your own business activities. When invoicing comes around Freshbooks can create invoices as detailed or broad as you like. 

Looking for the big picture on where you are spending your time and MONEY in your business? You can create categories of activities and find your time-wasters! If you have a team you can check where they are spending their time.

New Features

Freshbooks’ newest feature is a credit card reader that connects to your account. There is a one-time fee for the tool as it has a chip reader providing added security. The fees are the same as accepting cards online.  Currently this is only available for Iphone 5 and up.

If you just have a cool story of how Freshbooks made your life easier connect with me, I love that kinda thing 😉 

 

Understanding Commercial Leases

Victoria commercial real estate

Considering a commercial lease to for your business?

Many business owners, landlords and even most residential Realtors are ill-informed about the various types of commercial leases.

The most common confusion in commercial leases surrounds the differences between a Net and Gross Lease.

For simplification, a Gross Lease includes everything in the monthly rent. Everything except the tenant’s utility costs (including hydro, gas, heat, water, cable or a combination of any of these) is included. Any applicable taxes are also an additional cost.

On the other hand a Net Lease, means the tenant pays a base rent for the rentable area plus a proportionate share of other costs.  These may include to property taxes, building insurance, maintenance, management, landscaping & parking lot maintenance and a host of other items.  The various clauses depend upon the type of property and its amenities. Net Leases are commonly referred to as triple net rents.  However triple means three and as you can see often the additional rent or operating costs or CAM (Common Area Maintenance) costs include more than 3 additional charges!

Finally, people are often confused about how the commercial lease is calculated on a monthly basis. It may be confusing, but it isn’t complicated once you see how it works. Simply multiply the rentable area by the stated rental rate per square foot and divide by (12) twelve. i.e. 1,000 square feet X $15.00 PSF (per square foot) divided by 12 = $1,250.00 month.

Commercial leases may be far more complicated than this explanation suggests. It is a good idea to consult a professional to help understand the many possible clauses contained in the document. A long-term commercial lease can contribute to the success, or if done wrong, the failure of a business. Don’t ever sign one without review by a professional who represents your interests.

The Reality of Canadian Mortgages

canadian mortage rules

Qualifying for a Canadian Mortgage in 2016

One of my colleagues wrote a blog last year about the similarities between Beer, Biking and Mortgages.  I found it very entertaining and refreshing as mortgage financing isn’t the most riveting of subjects.

A little humour can be the best medicine in this time of dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s. When people think about applying for mortgage financing it often feels like daunting uncharted territory.  The thought process is something like this.  “I loved the house and I want it…..what do I have to do to get it….FAST!??  Will I qualify??  What is my credit like, hmmmm,  I’ve never checked???”  

I find that even when folks have had a mortgage for years, the same feeling resurfaces when they want to make a change….upsizing, downsizing, money for renovations, debt consolidation.  If the last time they purchased or remortgaged was 5 or 10 years ago, the qualification process was a heck of a lot easier.  Our government has been stringent (and thank goodness they have) in tightening our mortgage rules , making sure that consumers who hold mortgages in our great country actually qualify and are able to repay.  That can mean a little more gray hair before reaching the promise land, AKA money in hand.

“What do you mean I don’t qualify because the lenders now calculate a 3% monthly payment on the balance on a line of credit.  They only make me pay interest only?”

“I only have one collection on my credit bureau and my credit score is over 600….which apparently is the minimum score?”  I can’t get best rates???”

There seems to be a fine line between due diligence with our lenders and empathizing with our client regarding the significant changes that we are experiencing.  I’d like to send all of my clients to see “The Big Short” about the subprime mortgage market in the United States which was up for an Academy Award for Best Picture.  It is mind boggling that it is a true story and that the lack of regulation in the United States created corruption to that level and forced  one of the biggest housing collapses in history.  

Mortgage financing even in today’s world can be simplified even in today’s world.  An expert mortgage broker is always happy to help navigate every step.