Listen to Deductions from Compensation.
This week on Hull on Estates and Succession Planning, Ian and Suzana finish up the discussion on the question of accounting by reviewing deductions from compensation and briefly sum up the procedure of the passing of accounts.
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Deductions from Compensation - Hull on Estate and Succession Planning Podcast #125
Posted on August 12, 2008 by Hull & Hull LLP
Suzana Popovic-Montag: Hi, and welcome to Hull on Estate and Succession Planning. You’re listening to Episode #125 of our podcast on Tuesday, August 12th, 2008.
Welcome to Hull on Estate and Succession Planning, a series of podcasts hosted by Ian Hull and Suzana Popovic-Montag, that will provide information and insights into estate planning in Canada. From the offices of Hull Estate Mediation in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, here are Ian and Suzana.
Suzana Popovic-Montag: Hi there, Ian.
Ian Hull: Hi, Suzana. How are you doing?
Suzana Popovic-Montag: I’m good thank you, how are you?
Ian Hull: Just great. We’re having some fun with this whole question of accounting, and I think I’ve done the numbers, and I think we’re almost done. But before we go through our podcast today, let’s remind everyone, please feel free to call in on our call-in number and our call-in number is of course, 206-457-1985.
Suzana Popovic-Montag: Or send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or of course, you can visit our blog at estatelaw.hullandhull.com as well.
Ian Hull: So before we launch into the substantive podcast today, I just wanted to do a couple of things. One, I want to deal with an e-mail that came in and another is I want to just welcome people to listen and look at the, last week we enjoyed Jordan Atin who is our associate counsel here, our Senior Associate Counsel, and he was on Canada AM for four days in a row talking about family feuds and the link to the webpage where CTV is still running the streaming is worth looking at, and we’ll make sure that’s in our show notes. But Jordan had a great opportunity to talk about family feuds and sort of the issues that arise out of his book, “The Family War” which is co-written by Les Kotzer and of course, my good friend, Barry Fish.
Alright, so we were talking about some of the e-mails. And we had two e-mails last week come in. Both of them were semi-related and so I’m sort of going to merge the two of them together. And the question really comes down to this: What are we talking about with The Shoebox Effect? And what we’ve been mentioning in the past and what we’re going to talk a little bit about today, because part of our wind-up is the importance of vouchers, is The Shoebox Effect is this. When you are a trustee, no matter what you think, no matter what you do, you will be someday possibly asked to show your receipts and that’s all I’m saying The Shoebox Effect is. Make sure you keep receipts, even if it’s in a shoebox. Your lawyer or your accountant can work on the presentation of it when you ultimately have to go to Court, but keep the receipts. So that was the two questions that came in, actually, both were from different parts of Canada but asking about the same question. So I’m not going to dwell on it other than that and say that when we’re winding up our comments on accounting, please, please, please keep your receipts if you’re a fiduciary.
Suzana Popovic-Montag: And just to add one thought to that, Ian, I would also suggest that it’s really helpful to make sure that you document as much as possible everything that you do as a trustee. And when it comes to exercising your discretion, and if particularly the Will or the trust document allows you to have a broad discretion, to write down your thoughts or your reasoning or the underlying reasons that you decided to do something or not do something and include that in the shoebox that you end up bringing to a lawyer one day possibly.
Ian Hull: That’s a great suggestion and it comes down to, when we’re talking about getting paid for all of these efforts, the deductions from compensation that we briefly talked about in the last podcasts, what can you look to? So we talked about that you can get paid, say approximately 5% as a tariff, so to speak. And we’ve talked about some of the things we’re going to knock you out from, but one of the easy deductions is the delineation between the executor’s work and lawyer’s work or accountant’s work. And that ties into your comment, Suzana, on docketing, keeping records beyond just the receipts that I talked about.
Suzana Popovic-Montag: And things for instance, like the preparation of tax returns, when fees are associated with that, depending on who’s preparing the tax returns and how much those fees are, that’s another thing that might possibly be a deduction from compensation if the trustee for instance is an accountant. And these are situations where a trustee is an accountant or a lawyer that you see most often, where these issues can arise.
Ian Hull: Alright, so another concern that we raise and probably the last deduction from compensation we’ll just mention now, is this whole idea of pre-taking compensation. Under Ontario legislation, if you’re a fiduciary or, as I say, a guardian under the Substitute Decisions Act, they actually allow you to pre-take your compensation, take before you’ve made your efforts. But we’ve talked about in the past the cases, and we’ve talked about them in the show notes as well, the case law that talks about Re: Knoch which we talked about in our previous podcast and others, and we want to be very, very careful about pre-taking, getting paid before you’ve done your work. So that’s an easy deduction.
Suzana Popovic-Montag: Ian, just a question that I find often gets asked is whether or not GST is actually payable on executor’s compensation. What are your thoughts about that?
Ian Hull: Well, that’s a great question and it’s a murky area of the law. And what has happened in the past is you would typically have to look at it case by case. First and foremost, you have to look at the amount of the payment that the compensation is. If it is over $30,000 that you’re being paid in compensation, which could be the case because it’s typically a one-time payment, you may have to pay GST on that income as having rendered services. So it’s really case-by-case. Talk to your accountant, get good advice before you wrap up that issue, but that’s an excellent question and a really important heads-up for people who are accounting and doing compensation work.
Okay, I think we’ve pretty well covered off our accounting in the in-depth form and so we wanted to make sure that we stayed the course and came full circle to our sort of checklist that we’re trying to work through. And one of the things I will say is we’re hopefully going to be changing our format and trying to pick up a video feed for our podcasts which is in the process. Some technology glitches haven’t allowed for it to fall in just yet, but we’re going to be moving into some different topic areas. But one of the topic areas that we have to, I think, just sort of at least wrap up in a minimum way, is the process itself. We’ve talked about the passing of accounts process but let’s talk about the physical steps that are taken because many people don’t understand passing of accounts and what you can expect in the courtroom once we’ve got the Court format accounts. And my introduction to this, by way of the fact that we’re going to be moving this into an audio, is that we’re going to have our own mini-series on this issue, where we’re really going to flush out these topics. But I think its worthwhile talking about them briefly now, so that people understand what they’re going to get themselves into once they’ve got these beautifully created Court format accounts.
Suzana Popovic-Montag: And procedurally speaking, certainly here in Ontario, the Rules of Civil Procedure will govern what is included in an Application to pass the Court format accounts. And we started when, before we got into this discussion of how we would audit estate accounts or how to prepare a best kind of set of accounts in the circumstances, we talked about the fact that it’s all part of an application process. And so there will be an actual Court date that’s assigned to the hearing for the return of the executor’s accounts, and you’ll serve a Notice of that application on all the beneficiaries together with, in many circumstances and many situations, a copy of the accounts as well. And the Rules themselves specifically provide what has to be in this Application record and I thought, Ian, it might be good to just sort of flush out some of those specific requirements.
Ian Hull: Alright. Well I think and it’s helpful because it’s not quite as daunting when you get the document itself thrown at you because, as I say, a lot of these accounts are passed in a non-contentious environment. But it’s legal mumbo-jumbo to some people so you want to make sure you sort of know what you’re getting yourselves into when you get it. And the main document behind the accounts is the Affidavit verifying the accounts, they’re proving that you’re swearing to the truth of the accounts, and that’s the fiduciary sort of statement that says these accounts are true and accurate.
Suzana Popovic-Montag: And that Affidavit, as I say, is included in the record that is served upon everyone who has a financial interest in the estate. And financial interest in the estate I think we’ve talked about on previous podcasts, has a very broad meaning in the sense that even people with a contingent interest in an estate will be served with the accounts as well.
Ian Hull: And talking about service, we don’t want to forget that there may be government agencies that we have to serve, of course; the Office of the Children’s Lawyer should there be any minor child’s interests, or interests of those who are unborn and unascertained. And without getting too technical about it, we just want to look at the trust document or the Will and see if there is a trust. And typically if there’s a trust, more often than not, almost certainly in fact, the Children’s Lawyer would be served, that’s the Office of the Children’s Lawyer. And it’s different in each Ontario jurisdiction, but basically the lawyer in charge of minor interests. Another person to be concerned about serving is
Suzana Popovic-Montag: the Public Guardian and Trustee. That office would be served on behalf of any incapable beneficiaries of the estate. And so just like the Children’s Lawyer protects the minor, the unborn or the unascertained, the Public Guardian and Trustee here in Ontario will represent those incapable beneficiaries.
Ian Hull: So those are just things to keep a heads-up on so that you don’t get out of the box and miss a page of the application process by not putting important entities on notice. Obviously, we come back to our cardinal rule: Read the document, read the Will, read the trust and make sure you’ve served everyone named in that, but the Public Guardian and Trustee and the Office of the Children’s Lawyer, are two entities that aren’t necessarily named and quite often aren’t named, so just a heads-up.
So I think that gives you sort of a sense of what the document itself, in a friendly environment will be, so I think we’ll wrap up today’s podcast and again reminding you, please feel free to e-mail at hullandhull, h u l l a n d h u l l @gmail.com.
Suzana Popovic-Montag: Or feel free to call and leave us an audio comment at 206-457-1985. Thanks very much, Ian.
Ian Hull: Thanks, Suzana.
You’ve been listening to Hull on Estate and Succession Planning with Ian Hull and Suzana Popovic-Montag. The podcast you have been listening to has been provided as an information service. It is a summary of current legal issues in estates and estate planning. It is not legal advice and you are reminded to always talk with a legal professional regarding your specific circumstances.
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