Joining Assets with Children

We recently came across an individual asking whether he could avoid the cost of preparing a Will by simply ‘joining’ all his assets with his children. Perhaps you may also have someone give you such an idea in order to skip the preparation of a Will because it’s “easier and cheaper to just join your accounts” than to visit the lawyer’s office.  

Interesting but misinformed.  

While joint ownership is often used as an estate planning tool in order to have assets transferred to the surviving owner (or simply for the sake of convenience) and avoiding the dreaded probate tax upon death, it has to be thought through to avoid unintended results.

Some questions that should be crossing your mind are:

  • Who is this account to be shared with?
  • Is the co-owner of the account one of your adult children?
  • What type of account is it (registered, non-registered etc.)?
  • Are there rollovers available so that there isn’t unnecessary tax burden on the estate?
  • Do you know the tax consequences that arise as a result of transferring a capital asset into joint ownership? 
  • Is the underlying intention to avoid probate tax?
  • Is avoiding probate tax worth the loss of control?
  • Is the true legal and beneficial ownership being transferred?

Some additional considerations may include the following:

In the event of your death, are you certain that Johnny will share equally with your other son, Bobby?  Maybe he will, maybe he won’t. Johnny may be in a financial strife and decide to use the proceeds out of this account thereby cutting Bobby short. What if Johnny’s facing creditor issues? Will creditors now be able to access the account? Do either of them have dependants (children, spouse) and how does all that factor in?

Along with continuous changes in the law, the above are some of the questions one must seek answers to in relation to joining accounts. Other items that require attention when preparing Wills are registered plans, insurance proceeds payable upon death, joint ownership designations, assets owned under tenancy in common etc.

It is always a good idea to speak to a professional and have your situation reviewed. Contact Rabideau Law today and speak to one of our professional Wills and Estates Lawyers.

The Process of Getting a Separation Agreement Done

The Process of Getting a Separation Agreement Done

What follows below will be a general overview of the process for completing a separation agreement.  It begins by contacting our office and concludes with the completed separation agreement that is provided to the client.

Please note that this is not a precise account of how the process works, but merely a general guideline.  Each situation is unique. Furthermore, different types of agreements and different types of retainers with our firm necessitate varying approaches to this process.  Keep in mind that this process is not limited to just separation agreements, but can be applied to any kind of domestic contracts such as a cohabitation agreement or a marriage contract (and/or a prenup).

Step 1 – Initial Contact: A potential client contacts our firm by phone, email or in person, and we arrange an in office meeting with one of our lawyers for a consultation (click here if you would like to book a consultation, hyperlink to relevant part of website).

Step 2 – The Consultation: The potential client brings any relevant documents to the consultation so that we can determine what may be the best legal solution to their legal problem.  This consultation is an information session, and we are not hired at this stage to represent the potential client.

Step 3 – The Retainer (aka the Contract): If the potential client wishes to draft a separation agreement, we will draft a formal retainer (i.e. contract between you and the lawyer) that must be signed by the client and our firm before we begin any work. This document covers the type of legal services that the firm would provide to you.

Step 4 – Gathering Info: Once the retainer is signed by the potential client and our firm, that potential client is now our client.  We provide the client with a questionnaire that asks them to provide as much information as possible including things such as their finances, children, employment, assets and debts.

Step 5 – Drafting the Agreement: After the questionnaire is complete, the client provides it to our firm and we use that information to draft a separation agreement.   This can also include drafting financial statements.  We take this time to include the details from your questionnaire into the agreement, and include any specific terms or conditions that may have been discussed.  During this stage we may ask you for more information in order to effectively include all necessary items.

Step 6 – Reviewing the First Draft: Once the first draft is completed, we contact the client to review the agreement with them to see if any other provisions need to be included or removed.  This is to ensure that the agreement matches the client’s intentions and wishes.

Step 7 – Opposing Party Review and Negotiation: Once the first draft is approved by the client, we send a copy of the draft to the other spouse’s lawyer for them to review.  If any terms need to be adjusted, we contact the other lawyer to negotiate until all parties agree to the terms and conditions of the separation agreement.

Step 8 – Final Review and Execution: Once everyone is in agreement, we create a final draft copy of the agreement for your review.  We arrange a meeting where you attend our office and we review the final draft of the agreement in detail.  Should everything be in order, we execute the agreement by having you sign the agreement with a witness and date your signature.  This is done on multiple copies of the agreement, usually one for each party and one for each lawyer totalling 4 copies.  Once executed, the lawyer at our firm will sign an Independent Legal Advice Certificate (“ILA Certificate”).

Step 9 – Completion: We then provide all signed copies to the opposing party for them to sign, witness and date, and for their lawyer to also provide an ILA Certificate.  Once that is done, they mail two completed copies back to us and we provide the client with one completed separation agreement completing the process.

Typically this process takes about 2-3 weeks to complete.  This timeline is dependent on how much negotiation needs to take place in order to resolve all outstanding issues.  However, negotiating the details of your separation outside of court is a faster, simpler, and more cost-effective means of dealing with issues.

Should your spouse provide you with an agreement, we can discuss providing Independent Legal Advice services for you.  This would essentially reverse the roles of the parties in the process outlined above.

If you are looking to get a domestic contract drafted, feel free to contact our firm to see what legal services may be best suited to your particular needs.

Separation Agreements: An Overview

Separation Agreements: An Overview

What is a separation agreement?

Separation agreements are contracts between two persons in a romantic relationship regarding their familial rights and obligations towards each other.  These types of agreements allow people to negotiate issues such as how children will be taken care of, what kind of support will be paid between the spouses, and how to distribute assets such as the home.  Once the issues are identified and agreed upon, the separation agreement can provide certainty and peace of mind for both parties as they move on from the relationship.


Do I need a separation agreement to get divorced or get separated?

If you are married, (if you aren’t married skip on to the next paragraph) you don’t actually NEED a separation agreement in order to get divorced or to separate from your spouse.  The Divorce Act requires that there be a “breakdown of the marriage”.  This means that:

  1. you live separate and apart for one year;
  2. the other spouse has committed adultery; or
  3. one spouse has treated the other with physical or mental cruelty.

If you aren’t married, all that is required is that you live separate and apart.  However, what that means can be complicated depending on your circumstances.

Regardless of how you and your spouse (partner, husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend etc) broke up, getting a separation agreement can help both parties negotiate and finalize matters between them without involving costly and lengthy court proceedings.


We’re working well together, why bother with an agreement?

Although you and your spouse are cooperating well at this point, there is no telling how well you two will work together in the future.  If something happens in the future where the other person suddenly refuses to work with you, and the both of you do not have an agreement in place, there could be severe consequences regarding your ability to see your children, how support payments will be made, or how assets should be redistributed.  The best thing to do is to ensure that both of you are on the same page by drafting an agreement outlining your rights and responsibilities so you won’t be faced with any unpleasant surprises in the future.


Why can’t I just download an existing agreement and draft it myself?

You can.  Nothing prevents you from drafting a separation agreement that both you and your spouse sign together.  However, this is an agreement that will bind the both of you into the foreseeable future.  You want to make sure that all angles are covered and that you did not omit something or improperly word something that could have serious repercussions for you in the future.  There is no guarantee that the online agreements out there are up to date or that they have the appropriate clauses to protect you especially if your ex tries to challenge or have it set aside in court.  Having a lawyer draft the agreement for you is the best way to ensure that all important issues are covered, that everything is current to today’s laws in your jurisdiction, that the law surrounding those issues regarding your rights and obligations are explained to you, and that the agreement is executed properly.


Can I only get an agreement at separation?

No.  There are multiple types of “Domestic Contracts” under the Family Law Act.  Other types of agreements include:

  1. a cohabitation agreement if you are cohabiting (living) with another person and are not married;
  2. a marriage contract if you are getting married (colloquially known as a pre-nup); or
  3. a marriage contract after you get married (colloquially known as a post-nup).

Be mindful that there are certain issues (eg. Access to children) that cannot be addressed in these other types of agreements.  Feel free to contact our firm to see what agreement may be best for you.


What are the best reasons for hiring a lawyer to draft an agreement?

One of the biggest concerns for separating spouses is how the children will be taken care of.  The agreement can help both parties create a stable and effective parenting plan for how decisions will be made for the children such as residence, school, health care, religion and education.  The agreement can also help set out a visitation and/or time sharing schedule for the parents to follow.

Another major concern for spouses at separation is the family home.  Usually, this is the largest asset that both parties have during the relationship, and a separation agreement can go a long way to outlining who is getting the home, or how the home is to be sold and distributed between the two of you.  Also, if one of you is looking to purchase a new property after separation, mortgage companies will usually ask for an agreement between the two of you before they are willing to provide a mortgage for the new property.

Other assets that can be dealt with in agreements can include: joint bank accounts, debts, pensions, RRSP’s (Registered Retirement Savings Plans), pets, cars, and life insurance.


How do I make sure the agreement is enforceable?

Ensure that it is signed, written, and witnessed.

Ensure that you are well educated on:  what the law is, the legal meaning and consequences of the agreement terms and the assets and debts of both parties.  Hiring a lawyer to draft the Agreement and/or provide you with independent legal advice (“ILA”) provides this assurance.

ILA is provided when one party has their own lawyer review and explain the agreement to them.  This helps to ensure that the party understands the rights and obligations they are agreeing to.  The lawyer then signs an “ILA Certificate” stating that they reviewed the agreement with their client, that their client has not been forced into the agreement, and that they believe their client understands it.

Another common addition to agreements is a sworn financial statement.  Sworn financial statements outline things such as the parties’ income, their monthly spending, and their assets and debts.  Having this financial picture helps clearly identify the financial situation of both parties so that there is no confusion regarding either party’s assets.

Having both ILA and sworn financial statements in your agreement goes a long way to ensuring that the agreement won’t be overturned by a Court in the future  (if it ever ends up that) and that you have a strong shield to protect you should anything be challenged.

Finally, you can look at separation agreements as a ”living document” meaning that it should grow and change as your financial and/or family situation changes.  It’s a good idea to review it every few years to ensure that the terms of the agreement still say what you want them to say.

The Process of Executing a Separation agreement



Rabideau Law Food Drive 2017


Rabideau Law’s November Food Drive in support of The FoodBank of Waterloo Region

We are proud to announce that we will be holding a Food Drive from November 1st-27th in support of The FoodBank of Waterloo Region, and in the spirit of GivingTuesday.

What is GivingTuesday?

As stated on the GivingTuesday Waterloo Region website:
“Tuesday, November 28th is GivingTuesday, a day for businesses, individuals, groups and charities to join together to rally for favourite causes, create opportunities and share meaningful experiences. Whether it’s raising awareness, volunteering or fundraising, GivingTuesday is our day to celebrate the importance and impact of giving back.
Just as Black Friday kicks off the holiday shopping season, GivingTuesday marks the start of the giving season. What started four years ago in New York is now becoming a global movement that has reached 68 countries. In 2014, Vancouver, Regina, Guelph, Ottawa, and Halifax launched their charitable campaigns. The GivingTuesday Waterloo Region movement began in 2015.”

To work our Food Drive in with GivingTuesday, we will be going to visit The Food Bank on November 28th to deliver the donations we have collected over the month.

Why should you donate?
• The Food Bank serves a Community Food Assistance Network of more than 80 agencies and community food programs. 2,000 meals are served daily by this Network.
• 49% of households seeking assistance are families with children.
• Just $1 will provide 3 meals.
• 215 food hampers are distributed every day.
• Community nutrition workers teach healthy eating and food budgeting skills at 16 different locations.
• 1 in 20 households in Kitchener-Waterloo are hungry.

How can you help?
• Make a donation
$20 will feed a family for 4 days
Tax refunds are available for donations
• Donate food
Most needed items include:
o Canned stews and chili
o Canned meat and fish
o Beans in sauce
o Tomato sauce
o Canned pasta
o Canned soup
o Canned fruit
o Dried beans
o Hot cereals
o Rice

Donations will be accepted at our office, 501-305 King St W, Kitchener.

To make things interesting this year, the office has been split into three teams, each led by one of our lawyers. The two losing lawyers will participate in a lip syncing contest at the end of the food drive which will be posted to our social media! Only food donations will be used towards saving the lawyers, cash donations will be put in a donation jar towards the Food Bank’s new food processing room in their warehouse.

When making your donations, be sure to let us know whether your donation will be going towards saving Geoff, Varun or Roger!

If you have any other questions, feel free to contact Kayla at

Rabideau Law’s February Potato Blitz in support of House of Friendship

We are proud to announce that we will be holding a Potato Blitz from February 1st-28th in support of House of Friendship.

What is a Potato Blitz?

Over twenty years ago, House of Friendship (HOF) Board Members decided to host a potato blitz in February to help meet the need for potatoes throughout the year in emergency food hampers and program meals. Today, the campaign raises potatoes and donations equivalent to 300,000 pounds of potatoes. Potatoes are used for hampers and meals, and donations are used to buy more potatoes.

This fun campaign kicks off with Don Cameron Potato Night with the Kitchener Rangers, when fans donate money and spuds at the door. It is followed by a one-day Supermarket Blitz on a Saturday at most local grocery stores, where volunteers invite shoppers to donate money and spuds.

And the campaign wraps up with a Community Potato Lunch hosted by HOF, at which guests enjoy a delicious offering of potato dishes (no tickets required – free-will offering accepted), and where we have the opportunity to thank many volunteers and sponsors. Over 200 volunteers roll up their sleeves to help campaign mascots Spuddy and Sweet Potato.

At Rabideau Law we will be acting as a drop-off point for donations, as well as holding our own contest within the office to collect the most potatoes!

 Why should you donate?

  • House of Friendship’s Charles Street Mens Shelter houses up to 51 men per night
  • They send out over 28,000 emergency food hampers to local individuals and families annually
  • Over 550 men and women annually turn to House of Friendship’s addiction treatment programs
  • Over 120 kids from families living on low-income play, learn and grow at House of Friendship’s summer camp each year.

How can you help?

  • Make a donation
    Tax refunds are available for donations
  • Donate potatoes

Donations will be accepted at our office, 501-305 King St W, Kitchener.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Kayla at

Rabideau Law Food Drive 2016

Rabideau Law’s November Food Drive in support of The Food Bank of Waterloo Region

We are proud to announce that we will be holding a Food Drive from November 1st-28th in support of The Food Bank of Waterloo Region, and in the spirit of GivingTuesday.

What is GivingTuesday?

As stated on the GivingTuesday Waterloo Region website:

“Tuesday, November 29th is GivingTuesday, a day for businesses, individuals, groups and charities to join together to rally for favourite causes, create opportunities and share meaningful experiences. Whether it’s raising awareness, volunteering or fundraising, GivingTuesday is our day to celebrate the importance and impact of giving back.

Just as Black Friday kicks off the holiday shopping season, GivingTuesday marks the start of the giving season. What started four years ago in New York is now becoming a global movement that has reached 68 countries. In 2014, Vancouver, Regina, Guelph, Ottawa, and Halifax launched their charitable campaigns. The GivingTuesday Waterloo Region movement began in 2015.”

To work our Food Drive in with GivingTuesday, we will be going to visit The Food Bank on November 29th to deliver the donations we have collected over the month.


Why should you donate?

  • More than 34,000 men, women and children received food assistance last year in Waterloo Region.
  • People seek food assistance because of unexpected job loss, physical or mental health concerns, or other crises.
  • 49% of households seeking assistance are families with children.
  • Just $1 will provide 3 meals

How can you help?

  • Make a donation
    $20 will feed a family for 4 days
    Tax refunds are available for donations
  • Donate food
    Most needed items include:

    • Peanut Butter
    • Canned Fruit and Vegetables
    • Canned Meat and Fish
    • Canned Stews and Chili
    • Beans in Sauce

Donations will be accepted at our office, 501-305 King St W, Kitchener.

To make things a little more interesting­—and of course raise as much for The Food Bank as possible­—we’ve split the office into two teams.

Will your donations go to Team FullBelly (Geoff Rabideau’s team) or the Pantry Packers (Varun Sharma’s team)?
Full team lists are on our Facebook page

If you have any other questions, feel free to contact Kayla at

How to Fight your Property Tax Assessment

Property taxes are a significant cost to owning a home, and no one likes to see their tax bill going up. But did you know that you can dispute your property assessment and have it reconsidered?

There are two ways to have your property assessment reconsidered – by submitting a Request for Reconsideration (RFR) with the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) or by filing an appeal at the Assessment Review Board. This blog post will focus on the Request for Reconsideration process. The Assessment Review Board appeal process will be covered in a future post.

A RFR may be time-consuming to complete, but the process is free and the potential tax savings are worth it. Just note that for the 2014 tax year, your deadline to file a RFR with MPAC is March 31, 2014.You may file a RFR every tax year.

Understanding your Property Assessment

The first step in disputing your taxes is understanding how the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) made their original assessment. There two ways to do this, both of which are free.

If you contact MPAC (1-866-296-6722) a representative will review the information they have on file for your property, answer general questions you have about your assessment, and if necessary, make corrections.

Alternatively, MPAC’s website,, is a self-service tool that lets you look up your property assessment information, and recent sales information for similar properties in your neighbourhood. You may correct errors in the assessment information and submit a Request for Reconsideration directly from the ‘About My Property’ website.

Registering for ‘About My Property’

If it is your first time using the ‘About My Property’ website, click the “Register Now” link. To register, you will need your property’s 19-digit roll number and access key, both of which appear on your most recent Property Assessment Notice. If you own multiple properties, each property will need to be registered separately.

No Roll Number or Access Key?

If you do not have your most recent Property Assessment Notice and do not know the roll number or access key, first obtain the roll number by calling your municipality’s Property Tax or Revenue Division. For Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge, the contact numbers are as follows:

City of Kitchener Revenue Division: 519-741-2450

City of Waterloo Revenue Services: 519-747-8718

City of Cambridge Property Taxes: 519 740-4524

After you get the roll number, call MPAC at 1-866-296-6722 to get assistance with registering for ‘About My Property’. Please note that you must have the roll number when you call MPAC.

Using ‘About My Property’ to Obtain Assessment Information

Answers to common questions on how to use ‘About My Property’ are available at:

From ‘About My Property’, you may obtain a Detailed Property Profile Report, which contains all of the assessment information that MPAC has on file for your property. The website also allows you to obtain assessment and sales information for up to 24 properties of your choice and 6 similar properties selected by MPAC, for free.

Submitting a Request for Reconsideration

If you want to dispute your property assessment, you may submit a Request for Reconsideration from ‘About My Property’, at no charge. In the RFR form, you must set out the grounds on which you are disputing the assessment. It is important to include supporting documentation, such as pictures of the property, a copy of a home appraisal report from your mortgage lender, and sales data from similar properties. You should make the most of the free assessment and sales information that is available on ‘About My Property’ before starting the RFR form.

Some of the grounds for submitting a RFR are:

  • The assessed value of your property is quite different from similar properties in the area
  • MPAC’s records are incorrect – for example, the lot or building size is overstated
  • The property was purchased close to MPAC’s valuation date, and the purchase price is a significantly different amount than the assessed value
  • There are unique factors that negatively impact the property’s current value, which were not taken into consideration in the current assessment, e.g. the property is located on major, high-traffic road, while the comparable properties are on quiet streets.

MPAC will review your RFR submission and provide a written response, setting out its reasons. You can review the status of your RFR from ‘About My Property’. If you are unhappy with MPAC’s decision, you have 90 days from the decision date to file an appeal with the Assessment Review Board. The appeals process will to be discussed in a future blog post.

Home Buyers Tax Credit (HBTC)

What Is The Credit?

The federal government offers a $5,000 credit to certain home buyers.  The amount of the credit can be a little bit misleading; this credit will not allow you to save $5,000 in taxes.  This credit is always applied against the lowest tax bracket, which is 15%.  The maximum tax savings are actually $750, which is found by multiplying the $5,000 tax credit with the 15% tax bracket to find your actual savings ($5000 * 15% = $750).

Who can Claim this Tax Credit?

The federal government offers this credit for two types of purchases.  The first eligible purchase is a purchase by a first time homebuyer.  The second eligible purchase is the purchase, for or by a disabled person, of a home that accommodates their disability.

A first time home buyer is someone who does not own a house and has not owned a house in the preceding four calendar years.  So even if you have owned a house in the past, if it was long enough ago, you may still qualify for this credit.  This credit can be claimed by the first time home buyer or by their spouse.  If a group of first time home buyers buy a house together they can use this credit, however, they will have to split the maximum $750 tax savings between them.

For the purpose of this credit a disabled person is someone who is eligible to claim a disability amount on their taxes in the year that the house is acquired.  The credit can be claimed by whoever buys this property, be it the disabled person themselves or someone else buying a home for them.  Under these circumstances the buyer does not have to be a first time home buyer to get the credit.  However, the house purchased has to be lived in by the disabled person and the house must be specially equipped to address the disabled person’s needs.

When Can I Claim This Credit?

You must claim this credit in the year in which you take ownership of the property, not necessarily the year you enter into the agreement to buy the property. If you have purchased a condo you should claim this credit when you take ownership, which may not be the same year as you get to move in.

Which Properties Are Eligible For The Credit?

In order to qualify for the credit the property must be in Canada and be one of the following types of property:

  • single-family houses;
  • semi-detached houses;
  • townhouses;
  • mobile homes;
  • condominium units; or
  • apartments in duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, or apartment buildings.

Most Canadian properties that someone would buy for them or their family to live in will qualify.


Don’t forget to take advantage of this great opportunity to save some tax money when you buy a home.  If you have any questions about how to take advantage of this credit or any questions at all about buying or selling a home please don’t hesitate to contact the experts at Rabideau Law.

Rabideau Law Cares – Food & Fund Drive

Recently Rabideau Law & Rabideau Debt Law hosted a Food & Fund Drive to help contribute to The Food Bank of Waterloo Region’s ‪#‎DIGIN‬ event on May 2nd, 2015.

We could not be more thrilled to announce that not only did we reach our goal of 25 boxes but we actually managed to surpass it! In total we raised 630 lbs of food and $180 in donations. That’s enough to provide 1,032 meals for our neighbours in need!

We could not have done it without the support of the other offices in our building. A BIG thanks goes out to Primal, Quadriga Business Centre Ltd., Square, Nutrafarms, MappedIn,, RENOMii & SigmaXL! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!


  • 1 in 20 Waterloo Region residents needed food assistance last year
  • 46% of households needing assistance are families with children
  • The Food Bank of Waterloo Region will need enough food and funds to provide 360,000 meals this summer alone


The Food Bank distributes 20,000 lbs of non-perishable food to food programs in Waterloo Region each week.

In Waterloo Region during 2010:

26,500 residents of Waterloo Region sought emergency food assistance

38% were children

10% were working poor

24% were disabled

Over 48,000 people in Waterloo Region are living below the poverty line (2006 census).

Currently 1 in 20 people in Waterloo Region is hungry… 37% of those are children.

To Find Out More About How You Can Help visit

Refinancing a Home

When the term of your mortgage is up for renewal, refinancing your home can reduce your monthly payment and allow you to take advantage of better interest rates or a more favorable amortization period. At Rabideau Law we make this process as simple and straightforward as possible.

What are the responsibilities of a residential real estate lawyer?

Our team works hard to ensure that the refinancing of your mortgage is handled professionally and completed in a timely and efficient manner. Our services include:

  • Advising the client regarding their mortgage and title.
  • Coordinating with the bank or mortgage broker.
  • Determining the amount necessary to cover the balance of your current mortgage.
  • Searching for and removing liens or writs registered against the property or the owner.
  • Registering the new mortgage and removing the existing mortgage against the title.
  • Depositing any remaining funds into the account of the client.

What are the legal costs of refinancing a home?

Rabideau Law is pleased to offer home owners fixed fee legal representation when refinancing, giving you the peace of mind of knowing up-front the total cost of our services. Our rates are highly competitive, so be sure to visit our residential real estate page for more information on pricing.

*for certain unique circumstances, additional fees may apply. Please refer to our associated costs schedule for more information.

Refinancing for Debt Consolidation

Refinancing your home can be an attractive options for consolidating multiple debts into a single monthly payment. In addition to home refinancing services, Rabideau Law also offers a variety of solutions tailored towards overcoming debt, tax and insolvency problems.

I’m ready to get started – what’s my next step?

To get started, contact our office today to discuss your needs with one of our residential real estate law specialists.

For residential real estate law services in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph and surrounding areas, please call 519-957-1001 or email