Interview – Advice on business law, wills & estate planning.

Meenakshi Tewari Jham giving advice to entrepreneurs on business law and on wills and estate planning on the program “What’s going on in our community!” – a show by Vicky C.

Read about five things to consider when drafting a will.

 

 

Transcript of video:

 

Vicky: Hello everyone, its Vicky Chiappari on “what’s going on in our community”. Today we are here with Meena Jham. Thank you Meena for being here today.

Meena: Thank you Vicky for having me.

Vicky: Thank you, it’s a pleasure. She’s a lawyer and she does business, commercial and intellectual property and she does wills as well. And its really interesting information that she wants to share with us. Thank you Meena and can we start with the legal issues that every business owner should be aware about?

Meena: Sure. There are a number of legal compliance issues that business owners should be aware of.

The first has to do with employment policies and especially if you’re hiring independent contractors. It’s not enough to just have a contract with independent contractor you need to understand that the CRA and the courts will look behind a contract, so it’s always good to get legal advice on this issue. Also, to have the right kind of workplace policies regarding harassment and similar issues.

Another thing that’s important is if you have trade secrets in your business then how do you protect those trade secrets from employees who might get another job and might go and talk about it to somebody else. You need to have the right clauses in the contract to protect those trade secrets.

So, protecting trade secrets and your intellectual property – your trademark, copyright, patents, your industrial designs, all those need to be addressed adequately in your employment contract.

Another related issue would be privacy obligations for business owners. Privacy is a big issue right now so do you have the right kind of privacy policies within your business which bind your employees and any company that you outsource work to or any independent contractors, so that no one can come and sue you later on. You should have limited liability with those.

Anti spam laws (edit: is)  also a live issue at this moment because if you send electronic communication or emails to your clients then you need to have the right kind of anti spam policies in place as per what the law requires you to do.

And finally, advertising is a really big issue so advertising “do’s and don’ts”. There are some policies regarding advertising so if you’re printing some advertisements on putting them online then you should follow those policies.

And before I wrap this topic up, very important- all of us are online these days and most business owners are online. You need to have the right kind of terms and conditions and privacy policies online, not just in terms of what there is in substance, but also where those policies are written and whoever goes online, are the policies hidden somewhere or do they actively get to see that they will be bound by the terms and conditions and privacy policy.

You should get advice on all those issues from a lawyer.

Vicky: Ya, that’s right and I think the better way to do it is to do it before you set up the business because many people set up the business and then realise that there is something wrong.

Meena: Yes absolutely.

Vicky: That is so interesting. Another thing I want to catch with you, which is important for everyone, whether you have a business or not, is a will. Could you share with us why it’s so important to have a will?

Meena: Ya, absolutely.

So, there are some laws which state what happens to your proper if you don’t leave a will. Basically if you don’t have a will, you don’t get to decide who gets what, who gets to manage all your assets and your property once you’re gone. It goes as per the intestacy rules, which are the laws.

But the more important thing has to do with something called the probate administration tax or estate administration tax. Probate is the old word, but I use that word because it’s easier to understand.

Vicky: Yes, because we understand that.

Meena: When somebody departs, then whoever is managing their will, whether it’s their trustee or their beneficiaries (children, spouse or whoever) will take the will to the court. Even if you don’t have a will, somebody needs to get a certificate from the court saying that this person is (edit: authorised) to manage the assets and manage the property of the person.

So, for that certificate, to get that certificate from the court, the court will ask you what is the value of the estate. Estate could mean your house, your fixed deposit bank accounts or your regular bank accounts or investment policies, everything. The person will have to give the value of the estate and the court will charge a percentage of the fee on that.

Just to give you an example, the way it is done is on a graduated basis. For the first $50,000 of your estate value, the court charges $5 for each $1,000 and then after that first $50,000, the court charges $15 for every $1,000 and there is no upper limit. So, if you have assets worth one million dollars, then the fee could be anywhere around $14,500 so it’s almost 1.4% of your assets.

Vicky: It’s a lot.

Meena:  What an estate lawyer can do is try to find ways to minimize those probate fees, which can be done. Based on how you allocate your assets, they help you do that and they help you bring down that probate fee if its possible.

Also, very important Vicky, it’s very important – because we just spoke about business, it’s very important for private business owners to have two different wills – one for their personal assets and another for their business assets. Because one will does not need to go to the probate court. You shouldn’t ideally be paying on your business assets, on the business side. You can protect it by doing two different wills, which is permissible in Ontario.

Vicky: It’s important because I have many clients in real estate that ask me what will happen, if I die, with my house. So, it’s not just the house but all the assets that you have to cover and don’t waste time for your family and it’s so expensive.

Thank you Meena again, great information. She has a website and a blog that you can follow. Could you share with us your website so that people can follow your interesting information.

Meena: yes, absolutely. My website is www.jhamlaw.ca.

Vicky: Thank you then Meena. It was so interesting and hope to see you soon again.

 

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