Richard’s Blog – Street Lawyers Guide to Insurance

Street Lawyers Guide To Life & Disability Insurance: Tips & Pitfalls – Part 1 of 2

There are many types of insurance available to Canadian Families. The purpose of this blog is to examine several types from the average family’s point of view with the average family’s budget and to point out come tricks and traps to watch out for based on my nearly 20 years of practice as a solicitor in Estate Planning in Edmonton, Athabasca and Whitecourt.

“Where There is A Will, There Is a Relative” is a common joke we tell in our Estate Planning Appointments. Just as important as a Will is a Power of Attorney and proper Life Insurance and Disability Insurance.

Myth #1: I have Life and Disability Insurance Through Work

There are several problems with this concept. The first is the simple limits, often they are not enough. Second, they may be taxable. Thirdly, you may switch jobs, lose your jobs or your employer simply cancels the benefits leaving you with nothing.

Example: of employer sponsored group disability insurance being taxable: Employee earns $75,000.00 per year. Employer pays the premium. Employee is entitled to 2/3 of income or up to $4000.00 per month. Employee qualifies for $48,000 per year or $4000.00 per month of disability income, close to their take-home pay. However, because employer paid premium, $4000.00 is now taxed at (example) 40%. Therefore deductions are $1600.00 per month leaving $2400.00 net to employee to pay mortgage, vehicle payments groceries, etc.

Lesson: It is good to have your own private top up or replacement insurance.

Myth #2. I have Mortgage Life and Disability Insurance. (This one caught me personally).

I purchased my first home. I bought life and disability insurance. After 5 years, I decided to switch mortgage lenders. However, at year 3, I was diagnosed with High Blood Pressure. I switched lenders, filled out all the paperwork only to be disqualified for disability insurance because my HBP was considered a pre-existing condition. The same thing happened to my business partner who has a rare disorder that has a very low chance of becoming throat cancer and is easily treatable.

Solution: We spent about a year researching different types of Loan Insurance. After undergoing heavy medical under-writing ,we obtained decent coverage that for my partner covered everything except throat cancer; and for me, covered everything except stroke (which was reduced after a 5 year waiting period).

Product: We settled on Desjardins Solo Loan Insurance. Tip: Pick a 90 day elimination period for disability; and, until age 65 clause to keep your premiums down and maximize your protection.

Trap: With mortgage life insurance, you are often buying a product that has an age based declining payout with a premium that increases every 5 years.

Solution: Buy your own term insurance for on a term 20 or term 30 plan that will payout the mortgage and over time and have money left over to pay for extra expenses.

Myth #3. I need Universal Life Insurance.

In Alberta there are 3 types of life insurance: Universal, Whole Life & Term. Before we discuss these types of insurance, we need to understand the philosophy of Life Insurance.

The first (and simplest) idea is that it is simply income replacement; it is to help you family deal with the loss of an income earner and deal with unexpected expenses, such as a funeral and both long term and short term debts. As you approach retirement age or your debt comes down, (or both), then there is less need to insurer the family income earner(s).

The second idea is that Life Insurance is to be permanent product for the purposes of leaving a legacy. In this scenario the family member buys a large policy that will see that not only are the above needs met but there is money left over to give a substantial gift to the members’ child or children.

Either of the above is a personal choice and comes down to budget and can be achieved with a single policy or multiple policies which I call “laddering”.

Let us start with the most complicated:

Universal Life Insurance:

This is what I have. While I did not understand it at first, I do now and might have done things differently. Thankfully my agent was thoughtful and set me up on one very important but expensive plan, called level premium to age 100 rider.

In simple terms you buy a certain amount of insurance. For my example, we will use $1,000,000.00. You pay based on an annual premium. Let us use $300.00 per month for example or $3600.00 per year. In addition, you pay another $300.00 per month for another $3600 a year totaling $7200.00 per year. The additional $300.00 is invested in the stock-market for returns. In time, the idea is that you will have approximately $100,000.00 or so in savings; and, the income generated in the tax sheltered portfolio will be enough to pay the annual premium (increasing each year); and, when you die, the face amount of the policy along with any savings will be paid to your estate.

Danger: If the investment portion behaves poorly, there will be no increase in savings to offset the increase of premium every year.

Solution: Level Premium to Age 100. In my case my agent set a higher than average monthly premium at the start, which will stay level until age 100, so even if there are no savings or return on investment; however, as long as I pay the base amount, my insurance will always be in place.

Benefit: As your policy generates income, if it does well, later in life, the Plan can pay you money out of the wealth generated tax free. They do this by “lending” you the money at a very low interest rate, then paying the loan back out of the Life Insurance Proceeds on death.

Whole Life Insurance: This is simpler that a Universal Life Insurance Policy. You simply purchase a face amount, let us say $500,000.00 and make payments over a number of years. Once paid up, it is in place until you die, even if you live to be 103. If you die before it is paid up, the face amount is paid to your family. If you do live to be 103, it may also accumulate cash value and pay out more than the face value. It may also be cashed out at some point, collapsing the policy, allowing access to the accumulated cash value.

Term Life Insurance: This is the simplest form of insurance. You buy a face amount based on a monthly or annual payment for a certain length (term) of time. Usually the shorter the term the cheaper the rate. Usually offered in a 10 year term; 20 year term; or, 30 year term. The longer the term, the greater the likelihood that you will die, so the more expensive the premium.

Strategies: Compartmentalization & Laddering.

Compartmentalization: The strategy of purchasing life insurance for different scenarios. Rather than buy one large policy to cover everything you buy 2-3 policies for different things, so if you become disabled or lose your job for a long length of time, you can cancel two or three policies without becoming completely exposed to having no insurance.

Example. You buy your first house for $325,000.00. One strategy is to purchase a T-30 policy for $350,000.00 for 30 years. As you build up equity in your home, you build up equity in the policy. Also, if you switch lenders at any point and you do not qualify for life insurance because of a pre-existing condition, your home is still protected in the event of death. You then buy a second T-20 policy when your first child is born for $450,000.00 to cover off living expenses, nanny costs, university costs or other unexpected expenses during the first 20 critical years of starting a family. Lastly, you buy a $375,000.00 T-30 policy to cover off funeral arrangements, loss of income and other expenses in case you die during the first 30 years of marriage.

Laddering.A strategy to buy several term policies to have the most coverage at the early stages of having a family, which drop off as time goes on. Maybe a T-10 for $100,000.00 when each child is born, a T-20 at the birth of the first or last child for $350,000.00 and T-30 for $375,000.00 when you buy your first house. The lower term policies will be cheaper, allowing you to put the difference in savings into an R.R.S.P., R.E.S.P. or Tax Free Savings Account.

Other Things To Consider:

Riders: Riders are “add-ons” to Insurance policies and usually cost an extra $50.00 per month. Three important Riders to Consider are:

Critical Illness Riders/ Disability Riders. If you are diagnosed with a life-threatening critical illness, a portion of the policy (usually up to 10%) be converted to a living benefit (benefit payable while still alive). Also, will the insurance company waive the premiums during the period of disability.

COLA (Cost of Living Riders). Will the disability premiums be adjusted upwards to offset the cost of inflation during a long term disability? A long term disability can see the buying power of the premium adjusted downwards from 20%-45% over a 10 year plus period.

Retirement Saving Riders. This is one I missed on my disability policy. Most disability policies end at age 65. During this period, saving for retirement is difficult in not impossible. I was offered this rider for $50.00 per month in which case my disability provider would put an additional $1000.00 per month into an R.R.S.P. they managed, from the date of disability until the age of 65. I really wish I would have purchased this.

Conclusion: There are many other riders, including Return on Premiums and Child Protection Riders. It is a good idea to have a discussion with your licensed agent to discuss all riders and to understand what you are getting and giving up.

There are also many other types of insurance such as hospitalization insurance and critical illness insurance, both of which will be discussed in a separate article. One unique insurance product to Canada is Manulife’s Synergy Policy, which is a 3-in-1 insurance pool for Life, Disability and Critical Illness. While typically 33% cheaper than buying 3 separate policies; it is also a declining pool. However, the affordability and customization of this policy makes it appealable to many.

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For more information, please contact a licensed insurance agent. The thoughts and opinions on this page are not intended to be legal or insurance advice and are simply thoughts for discussion based on observations of a mom and pop type Edmonton lawyer.

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If you would like to make an Estate Planning Appointment in Athabasca, Edmonton or Whitecourt with one of our lawyers, please feel free to use the link below, we look forward to hearing from you. Each year we complete 100’s of Wills, Powers or Attorney and Personal Directives for all people of all ages and all backgrounds. No one is so unimportant that they do not need a Law Will & Testament, Power of Attorney and Personal Directive:

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Richard’s Blog – Courthouses

Richard's Blog - Courthouses

You Call, We Haul. Alberta is made up of 11 Judicial Districts with A Court of Queen’s Bench in each Judicial District for family law; civil law matters over $50,000.00 or matters of a very serious criminal law nature. In addition, the Alberta Court of Queen’s bench can hear Appeals from Masters Chambers and the Provincial Court of Alberta. In each Judicial District there are several local Provincial Courthouses that hear matters under $50,000.00 or less serious or dual/hybrid offences. Lastly, there are 2 Alberta Courts of Appeal in Edmonton and Calgary.

On any given business day, the lawyers of Verhaeghe Law Office are in one or more of these courthouses helping clients just like you, with problems just like yours, whether it be Family Law, Divorce Law, Criminal Law, Civil Law or Appeal Law (criminal law & civil law).

We do not judge and are simply here to help you in your time of need when formally retained.

After the Divorce Settlement is Finalized: 8 Steps You Should Take

After the Divorce Settlement is Finalized: 8 Steps You Should Take

What to Do After Your Divorce Settlement is Final

If you are struggling with bouncing back after your divorce settlement, we have the 8 key things you should do after it is finalized.

With all of the court fees, attorney costs, and other charges associated with divorce, the average cost of a divorce settlement hovers around $15,000. That's more than the average person's car is worth. If you're struggling to bounce back after paying up, you're not alone.

Then only thing that people rank as more stressful than divorce is the stress of moving. Depending on how your divorce went, you could be going through both right now. With all of that stress, you might be making some reckless financial decisions.

You should allow yourself some space to react to your divorce, but the last thing you need to do is end up in the poor house. Instead of getting stuck bouncing back from your divorce settlement, follow these 8 tips and you'll be back on top in no time.

1. Set Some Goals

Depending on where you live, you'll have a variety of possible short-term goals: find yourself, rebuild your social life, eventually think about dating. While these can vary and include different hurdles if you have kids or a shared business, there are some common long-term goals to think about.

You should make sure you're preparing for retirement. This divorce settlement could have depleted some of your savings.

If you're still in the home you were in during the marriage, you might want to get the mortgage paid off so that you can get that off your mind. Otherwise, you could be looking for another place?

Lastly, you probably have some dream you'd like to pursue now. Whether that means opening up your own shop or traveling to see the world, you should start putting money away for that right now.

Identifying and prioritizing your goals are the first step to achieving them. After they're identified, you can start putting together a plan to get you there. Based on your income, you might have to take baby steps to get to each one.

Every day that you're building toward a brighter future, you should be proud of yourself.

2. Automate Your Savings

With all of your goals laid out, you need a way to manage paying for each one. When you get your paycheck deposited into your account, it's easy to fudge your promises to yourself a little bit. You may have meant to put $150 in your travel account but if you put $50 in now, you can just put in an extra $100 later, right?

Better than leaving it up to your whims, see what your bank or the payroll department at your job can do to help you. Many employers offer direct deposit and will be willing to split up your check into multiple accounts.

This ensures that you'll get a certain amount into your savings, more into retirement, and get the rest into your checking for day-to-day use.

3. Don't Become A Control Freak

If you've got investments or stock, you might watch the news cycle and get overexcited one way or another. A sudden spike could make you want to buy or sell at the wrong time.

Don't worry about controlling every channel of your investments. You need to let them grow.

Worry about what you can control and focus on your immediate plans. Control the money you're making today and don't be so concerned with the money you could be making in 10 years.

4. Spend On Yourself

This doesn't mean you should go on a shopping spree. Instead, think of ways you can spend your money on what your needs are. If you're interested in furthering your education, pursue that.

At this stage in your career, you don't need to go into an ivy league program. Take some classes that fit in with your schedule where you feel like you'll learn the most.

Take courses or certification programs that will help you build your career prospects. Or else you could go with something different altogether.

If you've stared out the window of your office wishing you could become a licensed scuba diver, now is the time to try that out. The sky is the limit. Take this time to become the best version of you that you can be.

5. Stay In Your Lane

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to live beyond your means. With your finances and assets in recovery mode, you could make decisions that are based on having a dual income.

If you're still paying off legal fees, paying for new expenses, and even still sending alimony to a spouse, you could be in a different situation than you were last year. Make sure your spending habits line up with where you're at now.

It might hard to adjust but it's important to stay within your new boundaries in order to reach your goals.

6. Manage Your Risk

A cash reserve that can cover 6 months of expenses in case of sudden job loss or a family emergency is a must for just about everyone. While this might seem out of reach in the short term, it can provide peace of mind.

Think about how you can create a dependable cushion through conserving your money and creating a slowly growing investment account for this purpose.

Everyone has a different "safe" number. Figure out what yours is and do whatever you can to get there.

7. Watch Your Portfolio

After your divorce, your investment portfolio could look a lot different. If you had shared accounts or mutual investments, you need to get them sorted.

Regularly review your portfolio and make sure that it stays aligned with your objectives. If you took a financial hit, you should change some of your accounts for a lower risk tolerance.

8. Reset Your Perspective

Don't fret over every penny you spend. You need to plan a head-clearing vacation, weekend off, or trip out of town.

Find a way to enjoy a few of your favorite sights, foods, or cultural events with a friend or two. Make sure you clear your head before you dive into the next phase of your life.

Start Fresh After Your Divorce Settlement

If you don't make some space to clear your head, you won't be able to make good financial decisions after your divorce settlement. Take some time to heal and make sure you've tied up all of your loose ends before you jump back in.

If you're looking for more tips on how to manage your finances after divorce, contact us.

Verhaeghe Law Office’s Whitecourt Location Expands Legal Services

Verhaeghe Law Office's Whitecourt Location Expands Legal Services

The firm is now offering local family law, child custody, divorce and adoption services, reports www.freedomlaw.ca

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Alberta, Canada)—Verhaeghe Law Office announced the expansion of their legal services. The firm’s Whitecourt, Alberta location is now offering family law, child custody, divorce, and adoption services to residents in the local area. Those who would like to inquire about these Family Law Whitecourt services are encouraged to get in touch with the Verhaeghe Law Office team via their website.

Richard Verhaeghe, one of the experienced attorneys at the helm of Verhaeghe Law Firm, commented, “We know that dealing with family issues can be tough. Whether a couple is facing the possibility of a divorce or a family is looking to expand their hearts and home through the adoption process, we want families in Whitecourt and the surrounding areas to know we’re here to help see them through their situation. Our attorneys are well-versed in handling sensitive cases, and they strive each day to provide non-judgmental counsel and advice to assist families in reaching the best outcome.”

The experienced lawyers at Verhaeghe Law Office work with families both in and out of the courtroom to find a resolution to their legal woes. Understanding that divorce and the issues that surround it can be frightening to confront, the Verhaeghe Law Office team dedicates themselves to giving families the very best in personal service. Handling a wide range of issues such as spousal and child support, visitation rights, no fault divorce, separations, asset allocation, and Child Custody Whitecourt, they guide clients through the process from start to finish, working diligently to achieve success.

Mr. Verhaeghe further commented, “Whether it’s a high conflict situation or a mutual decision to separate, we know that Divorce Law Whitecourt can be complex and confusing. Instead of adding to their stress during this time by trying to figure it all out on their own, we encourage families to give us a call. We’ll listen intently to their story, help them identify their needs, and combine our legal expertise with a commitment to compassion to find a resolution that brings peace of mind.”

About Verhaeghe Law Office:

As a full-service law firm, Verhaeghe Law Office’s team of Whitecourt lawyers has years of experience working both in and out of local courtrooms with clients of all backgrounds and ages. The firm places an emphasis on family law, divorce law, child custody, child support, litigation, matrimonial property and separation in Whitecourt, Alberta.

Media Contact:

Richard Verhaeghe
5011-51 Ave. (P.O. Box 2039)
Whitecourt, AB. T7S 1P7, Canada

Telephone: (780) 778-6644

Email: richard@freedomlaw.ca

Website: https://freedomlaw.ca/

8 Things You Need to Know Before Hiring an Edmonton Real Estate Lawyer

8 Things You Need to Know Before Hiring an Edmonton Real Estate Lawyer

Do You Need to Hire an Edmonton Real Estate Lawyer?

Finding the right edmonton real estate lawyer doesn't have to be a hassle. We give you the information you need to make the best choice for you!

It would be great if we could all be like celebrities and buy as many homes as we wish. We can just spend more, buy off the market, and sell when we want to.

Of course, for most of us, buying a home isn't such an easy decision to make. Even if it's such a great investment, some people would do better not to purchase one - at least for the time being. These include folks who tend to move yearly, have little job security or bad credit, etc.

So if you're considering Edmonton real estate, you better make sure you're not getting a bad deal. A real estate lawyer can help you with this. But you have to choose one who has your best interests at heart.

How to Hire the Right Edmonton Real Estate Lawyer

No matter where you are or plan to relocate, you won't have any trouble finding real estate attorneys. In fact, you can find a lot of them just by doing a quick Google search.

Finding the right one though is a bit harder. But don't worry. A bit of research is all you need to have the best Edmonton real estate lawyer in your corner.

That said, here are the top 8 things you need to know before hiring one.

1. Don't Waste Time

Ideally, you should be looking for an excellent real estate lawyer when you start looking for a new home. You can't trust that your agent or broker will know all the answers to your legal questions.

Now, some homeowners may say that a real estate lawyer is just an added expense. They might tell you that they were able to purchase their homes with no assistance whatsoever from an attorney.

Keep in mind, however, that not all real estate transactions go as smoothly as planned. Sometimes, legal problems arise that requires a good real estate lawyer. If there are liens on the property, for example, you can't expect your agent or broker to sort it out for you.

You need someone who has the experience and expertise to advise you on how best to proceed.

2. Experience is a Must

If you already have an Edmonton real estate lawyer in mind, don't hesitate to ask him or her about his/her experience. Find out how long they've been practicing and if they frequently handle cases like yours.

The more experience they have in handling similar cases, the more deftly they can foresee potential problems. Another tip: if you have lawyer friends in other fields, you can ask them for recommendations or you can ask friends and relatives for their referrals.

3. Refine Your Search

Let's say you didn't get any referrals from your friends and family. Or maybe you're not quite happy with the attorney your agent or broker recommended.

For whatever reason you're not satisfied with the referrals you got (or didn't get), you have to take matters into your own hands. And that's okay. Buying a house is a personal decision anyway so a bit of DIY research should be welcome.

Lucky for you, it's not so hard. A law firm's website can tell you a lot of things about the people behind it. Steer clear if you see these red flags and make sure to read lawyer reviews online.

4. Face-to-Face Meetings are Important

Investigating websites and reading online reviews are necessary. But they won't give you the complete picture. Only a face-to-face meeting can do that.

So if you're shopping around for the best Edmonton real estate lawyer, make sure to schedule an initial consultation. Don't hire anyone just based off what you see online.

Remember, even if someone looks great on paper (or digitally in this case), you can't know how well you work together unless you meet him or her in person. Use what you've learned from their website, get your questions ready, and then decide after you see how they conduct themselves in real life.

5. Crunch the Numbers

If you still haven't decided after meeting several real estate lawyers and interviewing them, you can decide based on your budget. Of course, don't forget that you usually get what you pay for. If you can afford to spend more to get a really good attorney, do it.

You don't want to save a few bucks on someone who doesn't have a lot of experience or cannot give you the best representation if you need to go to court.

6. Ask Who Else Will Be Involved

There are times when law firms assign junior lawyers or paralegals to handle the initial work on cases. If you forgot to ask this during the initial consultation, make sure to know every detail like this during the succeeding meetings.

It's important you know who will do most of the work on your case. Don't forget you're most likely going to be talking to this person all the time. Sometimes, the right Edmonton real estate lawyer isn't the one who has an impressive resume.

It's the person who can make you feel at ease - an attorney you can establish rapport with so you don't have any qualms cooperating with him or her.

7. Transparency is Key

Yes, you've heard a lot of honest lawyer jokes. But you should know that no reputable attorney would lead his or her clients on. They will tell you if you have a good chance of winning your case or if it's something you have to steel yourself for (e.g. divorce cases or custody battles).

If someone guarantees you a win despite not having spent enough time studying your legal matter, be wary. This is someone who will say anything just to get you as a client.

8. Get Ready to Hire Your Lawyer

Once you've found an Edmonton real estate lawyer who's a good fit, you'll need to retain him or her. This means you need to pay him or her a retainer or a flat fee.

You'll also need to provide your chosen attorney all the necessary documents related to your case. This way, he or she can guide you through the process that leads to the best possible outcome (usually a real estate closing).

Need More Info on Real Estate Law?

Feel free to browse our blog. You may also give us a call at (587) 410-2500 or email us at office@freedomlaw.ca.

Understanding Employment Laws in Alberta

Understanding Employment Laws in Alberta

Having trouble understanding employment laws in Alberta? Don't miss this easy-to-read guide for both employees and employers.

Alberta has unique employee protections, worlds apart from other places on the planet, or even its neighbor, the USA. In the USA, employees can get terminated at will by their employer, while Canadian employers must provide notice or pay to their employees.

Whether you're beginning to do business in Canada from overseas or if you're starting a new business, you should know the employment laws in Alberta.

You should never hire employees without knowing about employment laws. If you're outsourcing workers or hiring from another state or province, be sure you're aware of the laws protecting your workers where they live.

If you're an employee interested in knowing about the recent changes to the Alberta employment code, you'll be surprised how things have improved. For employers looking into employment laws in Alberta, you'll see the government provides protections which have been proven to improve satisfaction. Keep reading for more information.

Wage Changes

You might be surprised to learn that, until last year, there were still laws in place allowing employers to pay people with disabilities less than minimum wage. With the changes to the Employment Standards Code, this is no longer the case.

Even though no permits allowing employers to engage in this practice have been issued for the last decade, taking the law out of circulation is a major step. This amendment allows people of all abilities to feel protected under the law.

Another major change disallows employers and restaurant owners to take deductions from employees based on bad work or shortages. In the past, restaurant owners would hold waitstaff responsible if patrons left without eating. Deductions from their pay will now be illegal.

This practice has found its way into convenience stores, delis, and even retail shops where customers leave with inventory. If you own a small business, you should get to know how these changes will affect you.

Leaves of Absence

There are also changes coming to conditions for a leave of absence. Maternity leave will be extended from 15 to 16 weeks because there's a one-week waiting time for Employment Insurance benefits to take effect. Employees will also find that they're protected from termination during leaves of absence or maternity leave unless a business is closed.

Compassionate care rules have also been modified. Length of time allowed for leave under these conditions was 8 weeks and has been lengthened to 27 weeks. This specific number was chosen to align with the scheduling of Employment Insurance.

Caregiver status will now include secondary or non-primary caregivers, meaning that extended family can care for an ill family member.

If you're caring for someone with a chronic condition, you'll be able to break up your caregiving into a few sections instead of the previous two installments.

Along with this, employees will now be able to give a 48-hour return to work notice rather than the previous two weeks. This can work out better for both employees and employers who want to keep work from piling up.

There are additional protections which are unique to Alberta. If a child dies or disappears as the result of a crime, unpaid leave is now allowed for up to 104 weeks. If a child disappeared due to a crime, there is a 52 week unpaid leave period.

For children who are critically ill, parents are now allowed to take 36 weeks of unpaid leave. If employees become ill or injured, they are allowed 16 weeks of unpaid leave.

Another important change to the code is the addition of domestic violence leave. Employees can take 10 days off if they're victims of domestic abuse.

Hours and Overtime

Employers have long been allowed to ask employees to work compressed work weeks, as in 4 ten-hour days instead of 5 eight-hour days a week.

Now employees who may feel they're working extra hours can enter into a written averaging agreement for one to twelve weeks. The purpose of this agreement is to see if the employee is entitled to overtime pay or paid time off.

While some industries see regular fluctuation, scheduling must not exceed 12-hour shifts per day and weekly averages must stay below 44 hours.

Overtime agreements will now allow employees 1.5 hours of paid time off for each hour of overtime worked. This is an increase of 1 hour per overtime hour. Employees will now have six months to spend this time, rather than the previous 3 months.

Holidays and Vacations

Previously, employees were required to work 30 days to be eligible for holiday pay. This law was changed so that every employee can get holiday pay. As an added bonus, employees will receive holiday pay even when they're not scheduled to work.

Holiday pay will be calculated based on the previous 4 weeks worked. Employment laws in Alberta now allow for employees to get 5% of that figure for a holiday.

Minimum vacation entitlements are calculated based on continuous employment. If there are breaks in employment of 90 days or less, the government will now consider this as continuous employment.

Vacation time is now allowed in half-day periods. The code now states that employees have to get paid for two weeks of their total wages (or 4%) for vacation pay. After 5 years of employment, they're entitled to at least 6%.

Termination Rules

When an employee gives notice, employers are allowed to force employees to use up all of their vacation and overtime during that period of two or more weeks. This will be prohibited and employees will be allowed to work for the remaining two weeks while getting a paid equivalent of those entitlements.

Indefinite temporary layoffs are eliminated by the changes to the code. Layoffs will be limited to 60 days. Longer than that would require employers to calculate termination pay. Employers will now be required to give two weeks notice in advance.

Any kinds of probationary periods for workers are now 90 days. If there are breaks in employment under 90 days within that period, they will be considered part of continuous employment.

Employment Laws in Alberta Have Changed Drastically

There are some fantastic new protections for employers and employees that allow for better communication regarding terms of employment. As there are many more changes not listed here, you should get to know all of the changes to employment laws in Alberta.

If you're interested in doing business in Alberta or need help dealing with any perceived violation of these terms, contact us today.

Verhaeghe Law Office Announces New Office Location

Verhaeghe Law Office Announces New Office Location

The full-service firm can now serve even more clients across Edmonton and the surrounding areas, reports www.freedomlaw.ca

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Alberta, Canada)-- Verhaeghe Law Office is pleased to announce the opening of their brand-new office location. The firm is now located in West Edmonton, just five minutes north of Stony Plain Road. The new office offers free parking for clients' convenience and will serve individuals and business owners in Edmonton, St. Albert, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, and Fort Saskatchewan.

"We could not be more thrilled about our new office location," said Richard Verhaeghe, the law office's Managing Partner. "For years we have worked relentlessly to support the families and businesses in our community, providing them with the best representation and helping them fight for justice in and out of the courtroom. Having a new office in a new location allows us to continue in that tradition as we expand our mission and make our services available to more clients."

As a full-service law firm, Verhaeghe offers clients legal resources, advice, counsel, and representation in a number of areas, placing an emphasis on family law, divorce law, child custody, wills & probate law, personal injury claims, criminal defense law, and court of appeal law. In addition to providing aggressive legal representation and convenient service to their clients, Verhaeghe Law Office is also one of the Most Rated Edmonton Lawyers. With more than 115 client reviews currently on the Google platform, the firm is the most Google-reviewed family law and divorce firm in the area.

Attorney Verhaeghe went on to say, "The sooner a person has a lawyer on their side, the easier it is to build a strong case and come to a successful resolution. Fortunately, this new office location will make it so much more convenient for
those in an around the Edmonton area to gain access to all of the legal resources they need, including eight of the Best Edmonton Lawyers who will fight aggressively on their behalf. Visit Us on Facebbok or our website to learn more about how we can help clients facing legal issues work toward the best possible outcome in their case."

About Verhaeghe Law Office:

As a full-service law firm, Verhaeghe Law Office's team of Edmonton lawyers has years of experience working both in and out of Edmonton courtrooms with clients of all backgrounds and ages. The firm places an emphasis on family law, divorce law, child custody, wills & probate law, personal injury claims, criminal defense law, and court of appeal law.

Media Contact:

Richard Verhaeghe
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Website: www.freedomlaw.ca

How A Contract Dispute Lawyer In Edmonton Can Help You

How A Contract Dispute Lawyer In Edmonton Can Help You

Are you unsure of how to handle a recent contract dispute? Keep reading to learn how a contract dispute lawyer in Edmonton can help you

Around 50% of all businesses end up being sued at some point during any year, and only 10% get away with never being sued at all. That means that the chances are high you will be sued by someone, whether you're at fault or not. If you deal with a lot of other vendors, contractors, or third parties in Edmonton, you might find yourself in need of a contract dispute lawyer.

Contract dispute lawyers can clear up issues when two business partners end up in conflict. They can deal with delivery disputes or issues of fair dealing between contracted employees and employers.

Whatever your reasons for writing up a contract, you should have an experienced contract attorney's number on hand in case things go south. If you're new to this kind of dispute, here are 9 ways that a contract dispute lawyer can be a blessing to your business.

1. Contract Laws Are Complicated

Even if you hired a lawyer to write up your standard contract, you might not understand everything that it says. If you're not a trained dentist, you shouldn't practice dentistry on yourself when you have an issue. Experienced lawyers will often hire another lawyer to represent them in court.

This is because every industry and every area of law has its own specificities that can take years to master and understand. Even if you think you've got an airtight case, you might not be able to manage it all on your own. A contract dispute lawyer and their team will be able to juggle everything so that you don't have to.

If you've got a new business or if you're on the ropes financially, getting hit by a lawsuit you can't defend can make life a struggle. Hiring a contract dispute lawyer will ensure that your business can continue uninterrupted while you iron things out.

Hiring a lawyer is a big investment for a small business, but with the time and money that can be saved, it can be worth it.

2. Going Without A Lawyer Can Be Expensive

Depending on the severity of the dispute, you could be facing huge fines or even a criminal issue. If you are being accused of some kind of negligence, you could face time behind bars.

At the very least, you could be facing a huge fine that could stifle your business if you lose. Your contract dispute lawyer will make sure that you don't lose a dime in this case.

Depending on the lawyer that you hire, you might be able to hire a lawyer who only charges you if you win. This can save you the costs of hiring a lawyer by the hour.

If the suit is completely unwarranted, your lawyer could even help you pay for their time. A great contract dispute lawyer could help you put together a countersuit to cover the costs of hiring your own lawyer.

3. Lawyers Challenge Evidence

If your case is looking pretty tough, you might think one piece of evidence can bury you. Without a lawyer, even the weakest contract could put you in the position where you're facing massive losses. A contract dispute lawyer knows how to challenge any evidence used against you.

Perhaps the evidence was obtained illegally. Perhaps there is language in your contract that is being misinterpreted. Maybe the conditions of the contract were never met, making it null and void.

No matter what kind of evidence the accusers try to throw your way, you could slip out of their traps with a good contract dispute lawyer. If you're being accused of violating a shareholders agreement, get to know what kind of defense you could mount.

4. Lawyers Know The Ropes

If you've never dealt with a lawsuit before, you could be facing all kinds of procedures and forms that you've never heard of before. Every municipality has different requirements, but you can bet there will be a whole lot of paperwork involved.

For anyone who isn't an attorney, the kind of deadlines and order of operations involved with a lawsuit can feel like a labyrinth. There's a protocol for every type of form and there is a standard procedure expected with any kind of filing.

Hiring a contract dispute lawyer means you won't be standing at the clerk's office dumbfounded by documents that make no sense to you.

If you file a response a day late, there's no turning back. You could spoil your chances to make your case, just by filing the wrong format the wrong time.

5. Know How To Handle Witnesses

Expert witnesses can help argue on behalf of a defendant. They are kept on the payrolls of law firms because they often have the reliable knowledge and credentials respected in a court. They can be the deciding factor in winning a case.

Attorneys know the limits of their knowledge and that's when they'll rely on a witness. Your contract dispute lawyer is a lawyer like any other.

They'll certainly know lots of people who can help strengthen your case and make sure to challenge any testimony from the opposing party. Hiring a contract lawyer means you'll have the best players sitting on your bench.

6. Do You Settle Or Not?

Most people don't know how to plead or how to settle. When you agree to something, whether you think the evidence points to your guilt or not, you could be making a decision that follows you for years.

Your contract dispute lawyer will be able to talk to you frankly about what you have or haven't done. They'll comb through the contract looking for issues or inconsistencies.

If you're offered some kind of request from the party that brought the lawsuit, slow down. The offer could be a lot more than you intended to pay, with the hope that you'll do anything to avoid a court case.

Your lawyer knows what all of this means and they'll make sure you don't make any wrong decisions.

7. They Can Help In Advance

If you haven't ended up in any kind of dispute yet, that doesn't mean you shouldn't hire a contract lawyer.

As a little bit of prevention is a lot more valuable than treatment when a problem arises, a strong contract dispute lawyer will keep you out of trouble. They can look at any contracts you're drafting before you have anyone else sign with them.

One of the problems with running a small business is that you risk being surrounded by "yes men" on your staff. Staffers might not point out issues when they see them in your contract. They might not even have the education necessary to know what to look for.

Hiring a dispute lawyer while you're drafting your standard contracts is a good idea if your company will be writing contracts of any kind.

8. Don't Go In Unarmed

Are you worried about whether or not the person who filed the dispute against you will have a lawyer? You can be almost completely guaranteed that they've got adequate legal representation. Knowing that they could be suing a business who has a lot of resources, many people will come to the table with a lawyer.

Even if you're just in the process of signing a contract for the first time, the other party will probably bring a lawyer. You'll see that they'll have their lawyer look over the contract and scrutinize it. If your contractor is being strongly urged to sign something immediately, you can guarantee that it's not strong enough to protect you.

Go into any negotiation with your own team of lawyers. Given that every aspect of the law is complicated, simplify things for yourself and everyone around you by hiring a lawyer for this venture.

9. Get Help Without Breaking The Bank

One of the most common standard practices among lawyers of many types is their offer of a free consultation.

Consultations offer a lot of positives. You'll be able to get to know if you have a good dynamic with your potential lawyer. You'll get a chance to ask how much they know about dealing with contract negotiations.

You'll even get to know what kinds of people they work with.

Ask about their pool of expert witnesses and what kind of staff they offer. See if they'll work on your case on a contingency fee. See what kinds of expenses are also tied up with that number.

If it all sounds good to you, hire a dispute lawyer today. Before you sign another piece of paper as a business owner, make sure you've got someone in your corner.

A Contract Dispute Lawyer In Edmonton Can Work Wonders

Hiring your own lawyer will strengthen your business not only because they'll want to see and edit your contracts, but also because you'll build a good reputation. Showing up to court with a lawyer on hand, prepared to take on your case, can be massively intimidating to prosecutors.

If you're ready to find the right dispute lawyer for your case, contact us today.

How is a Power of Attorney different from a Personal Directive?

How is a Power of Attorney different from a Personal Directive?

Discussing death is uncomfortable but you need to prepare your family. Here are the differences between personal directive and power of attorney in Alberta.

Life can change in a minute. No warning, no time to prepare, one minute can leave you incapable of making a decision.

Your loved ones may not know what choices to make. They may not be legally allowed to make decisions if you don't have the right legal documents.

It's advisable to prepare a personal directive and power of attorney in Alberta. This ensures everyone understands your wishes if you're incapable of making decisions.

Keep reading for more on writing a personal directive and power of attorney in Alberta.

What's the Rush? Why Now?

There's no time like the present to have a personal directive and power of attorney in Alberta.

Thousands of families go through emotional and financial heartache because loved ones don't.

Without proper legal documents, families are powerless or face lengthy, expensive court proceeding. Disagreements and misunderstandings are more likely if there aren't instructions decreed.

It's not enough to tell your loved ones what you want. You'll give everyone peace of mind if they know your wishes. This is possible by completing a personal directive and power of attorney in Alberta.

Lawyers, judges, and medical professionals can't make decisions without the right documents.

Personal Directive vs. Power of Attorney

These two documents may look similar, but they're not one and the same. The main distinguishing factor is what aspects of your life they pertain to.

A personal directive contains instructions for important decisions regarding issues like:

  • healthcare and medical procedures
  • living arrangements and personal needs
  • children and education

This document states your wishes. It appoints who's responsible if you can't advocate for yourself.

A power of attorney in Alberta is a directive for financial matters, such as:

  • banking and paying bills
  • decisions regarding property and assets
  • investing and reallocating money on your behalf

There are two types of power of attorney in Alberta, immediate and enduring. Each covers different circumstances.

These important differences appear as we delve into the nitty-gritty of each document.

Why Isn't a Will Enough?

A will is a principal part of estate planning, but it doesn't protect your wishes while you're alive. It documents what happens to your physical possessions and assets after you die.

Comprehensive estate planning may include:

  • a last will and testament
  • a personal directive
  • a power of attorney (immediate and enduring)
  • Life and disability insurance

Each facet protects your wishes in specific equally important areas. With these documents, your loved ones will know your preferences without any guesswork.

Protecting Your Wishes after Death

No one likes to think about dying, but there's good reason to write down your wishes.

It's a smart idea to seek legal counsel when planning your estate and writing a will. There are two types of last will and testaments accepted in Alberta.

A formal will must have two witnesses and signed by the individual. It's usually kept by an attorney or the assigned executor.

A holograph will is handwritten and signed. No typing or other print may appear on it, and it's easier for others to contest than a formal one.

In the event of your death, it gives directives regarding things like:

  • your burial wishes
  • funeral arrangements
  • distribution of your personal assets
  • who you appoint as executor
  • beneficiaries of your estate
  • arrangements for any dependents

The person you appoint as the executor of the estate ensures the terms of the will. This may include meeting legal responsibilities like probate and obtaining counsel. They would care for all financial obligations and divide the remaining assets.

Personal Directives

Many people will be familiar with the term living will. They typically focus on the end of life care and resuscitation directives.

Personal directives are a document of your desires in case you're unable to express them. Personal directives may include the end of life care instructions. They cover a much more comprehensive mandate.

Illness or injury can quickly leave you unable to communicate. You may develop dementia and be incapable of making important decisions.

A personal directive's written while you're capable in case a time comes when you are not. It's determined by a capacity assessment.

Capacity Assessments

A capacity assessment considers your ability to understand. You must know the factors to take into account during the decision-making process.

There must be two valid assessments of your competence.

You can name a trusted loved one, or hire a physician or psychologist to perform the assessment. If you didn't list a loved one as an agent, the duty would fall on two medical professionals involved in your care.

If you regain competence, you get reassessed and your decision-making ability reinstated. Otherwise, the person appointed in your personal directive will remain your decision maker.

Choosing an Agent

Most people want a loved one they trust to make decisions for them in case something happens.

Others don't want to leave their loved ones in the tough position of having to make life and death decisions. It's a burden they prefer to leave with qualified professionals.

When writing a personal directive, you have three choices for how you set it up:

Appoint one or more loved ones you trust to make decisions on your behalf. You can choose what areas of your life each person will oversee or ask that they jointly decide. Alternative names are for instances where the primary agent is unable to fill the role.

The Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee is available to fill the role if no family or friends are able to. They're named as your appointed decision maker within your personal directive.

Write instructions on what decisions you want to make in various circumstances. Instructions and directives are in the document but no agent's named.

Areas of Life

A personal or advanced directive covers areas of your life not related to finances. It gives instructions for what decisions you would want and who you want to make them.

Physical and Emotional Needs

You can choose an individual agent or more than one to care for your physical and emotional needs.

If you become incapable of communicating your wishes, then your agent would do so for you.

Healthcare and Medical Authorization

If you become incapable of giving consent for a medical procedure a designated agent(s) will.

Many people include their end-of-life instructions for extreme measures.

Care and Education of Dependents

Care and education of children or other dependents can be in your personal directive. This gives the person the ability to ensure their care while you're incapable of doing so.

Agent(s) are responsible for your dependents until courts appoint a legal guardian.

Instructions and Information

Your personal directive may also include instructions and information related to your preferences. This may be cultural, religious beliefs or pertinent details that clarify your wishes.

This step will help your agent(s) and medical personnel provide the best care possible.

Information on specific medical procedures and personal preferences you can record here. You may wish to have a Do Not Resuscitate order or organ donor information listed. Instructions on blood transfusions or other treatments get included in your directive.

You need to document all the details then you will want to date and sign it. You should have a copy for your records, and give a copy to the agent(s) listed. You should register your personal directive with the province.

Supported Decision-Making Directives

Even if you are capable of making your own decisions, sometimes it's nice to have a little help. A supported decision-making agreement makes this legally possible.

You can set up an agreement that allows a loved one or chosen agent to access your personal information. They should get involved in the communication and decision process. They can help you prepare and make informed decisions in life.

This gives you support and allows them to keep apprised of your condition. They will get information on care plans to consider.

You may appoint up to three agents to help with decision making. These supports will be able to access your personal health information as authorized by you to do so.

They can then obtain all necessary information and discuss with you. Together you can choose the best options for your care plan. They would then be able to communicate your decision on your behalf to the healthcare team.

A supported decision-making directive does not have to get filed with the government. You can write one and keep it in your personal records in case a time comes that it's needed.

Power of Attorney

Life can change in a minute. If you don't have a power of attorney in Alberta, your loved ones may not be able to make any financial decisions for you.

Many assume that a spouse or child can automatically take over. They may have to go to court to get permission to do so.

There are two types of power of attorney in Alberta. An enduring and an immediate power of attorney are very different in some aspects.

They both deal with your financial matters, one is for when you're incapacitated. It takes effect when you cannot make decisions. The other is for a period of time when you are not available to make decisions.

Immediate Power of Attorney in Alberta

An immediate power of attorney in Alberta is for when you're unable to tend to financial matters. If you're out of the country or immobile. Someone else has the authorization to take care of financial matters in your absence.

You may be traveling to Europe and need your daughter to ensure your bills get paid while you're there. Or you may need your son to take care of financial matters while you're recovering from hip surgery.

An immediate power of attorney in Alberta is void if you become incompetent. Your enduring power of attorney or personal directive would then get implemented.

You can still make financial transactions under an immediate power of attorney. Both you and your agent would be able to do so. You both would be able to deal with real estate, financial, and home issues within document terms.

You do not lose the power to make decisions or complete financial transactions under an immediate power of attorney in Alberta. Both you and your agent would be able to do so.

Enduring Power of Attorney

An enduring power of attorney in Alberta is if you're incapable of handling financial matters. In this case, your enduring power of attorney would become responsible for it.

Your attorney would take over all financial matters and have authorized to:

  • access your bank account to make deposits and withdrawals
  • sign cheques and manage investments
  • sell property or assets
  • manage, apply for, and maintain government benefits, such as old age pension
  • manage trusts and make financial decisions

The attorney named would not make personal decisions regarding where you live or what's best for your quality of life. This is covered in your personal directive. He may have to work in unison with the agent of your personal directive to provide the finances for your needs.

A power of attorney in Alberta agreement becomes a legal document as soon as it is dated and signed by you with witnesses present. It would take effect as specified in the document.

This could be for the time outlined (such as the month you are away in Europe) for immediate. For enduring it's when you're incapable of making decisions yourself.

Competence gets decided by an agent(s) you appoint and professionals caring for you. If you regain your ability to make decisions, the document can then become revoked. Your decision-making power would then get reinstated.

Now's the Time

Now is the time to make sure you are protected in the future.

A personal directive and power of attorney in Alberta ensure others know the care you want. It helps loved ones know what your wishes are and provides you with a way of communicating when you are unable to.

It's always a good idea to obtain legal counsel and advice. Then you can have peace of mind today knowing you are protected in the future.

Check out our blog for more information on protecting yourself!

The Pros and Cons of Split Custody: What You Should Know

The Pros and Cons of Split Custody: What You Should Know

Before deciding what kind of custody situation is right for you it's important to know the facts. Here's the pros and cons of a split custody agreement.

Divorce isn't easy for anyone, especially children. During a divorce, couples must decide how to split assets and possessions.

And if you have children, it's critical to make custody arrangements in their best interest. This should be approached by first thinking of what will benefit the kids most.

Divorce is an unsettling and often scary time for children. And they often feel caught in the middle.

Although there are many different types of custody arrangements, many divorce attorneys believe joint custody is best for children. Of course, this depends on the situation and the stability of the parents in question.

If you are considering what custody arrangement is best for your child, it's important to know the facts. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of split custody.

Pros of Split Custody

Whether it's split custody or another arrangement, it's only best if it's in the best interests of the child. Joint or shared custody can often be a positive solution if both parents are stable and willing to make it work.

Parents going through a divorce should put their feelings aside and take a good look at what's best for their child. There are many pros to split custody.

Children See Both Parents Regularly

With a joint custody arrangement, children continue to see both parents on a regular basis. This may be better than a child seeing a parent only on weekends or holidays.

Children whose parents divorce have a lot of feelings to process. They need to know it's okay to love both parents.

Children who get to see both parents regularly and without hostility are better able to cope with the challenges a divorce brings into their lives.

Parents Maintain Relationships with Children

You don't want to allow your divorce to negatively impact your relationship with your child or children. They need to know you still love them and will continue to be there for them in the future.

Joint custody makes it possible for parents to have equal time and maintain the parent/child relationship. Each parent can be an active participant in their children's lives.

Children See Extended Family

Children need lots of support when their parents divorce. Extended family can be an important part of that support.

Because children are with each parent regularly, the parents should make sure children are able to see each side of the family including grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins.

Parents Don't Have to Go It Alone

Raising a child is hard work, especially for a single parent. With an amicable split custody arrangement, you aren't left to tackle parenting alone.

It's ideal if parents can work together and share responsibilities and decision making. It's good for a child to see their parents work together and know they have the love and guidance of each parent.

And split custody allows parents to have a break when it's the other parent's time with the children.

Parents Maintain Friendly Ties

Although the marriage may be over, parenting continues. Most couples aren't on friendly terms immediately following a divorce.

Co-parenting allows parents to work together for their child's best interests and future in mind. This can lead to a more civil relationship between the parents.

When parents are friendly, it creates a warmer and less hostile environment for a child. It's hard work, but parents who put aside their differences and maintain civility will raise a more well-adjusted child.

Cons of Split Custody

Joint custody puts parents on an even playing field with both parents involved in the decisions regarding their children. For some families, this arrangement may not work.

Most parents are concerned about their children's well-being. And parents should carefully consider the needs of their children before finalizing any custody arrangements.

If one parent has issues with addiction or a history of child abuse of any kind, joint custody should not be considered as an option.

Moving Back and Forth Between Parents

In most split custody arrangements, the child travels back and forth giving each parent equal time. Some children may be unphased by this, but for some, this could be quite stressful.

This may not be the best arrangements for a troubled or particularly needy child who requires more stability. It's up to the parents to consider their child's unique needs and determine the best custody arrangement possible.

Decision-Making Issues

With joint custody, parents have equal powers in decision-making. That's good if the parents can make it work.

But too often, parents can't put aside their own hostility about their ex-spouse. This can lead to continuous power struggles and animosity.

It is stressful for children to see their parents fighting, and over time, this creates an unstable environment. For parents in this situation, another custody arrangement may be a better choice.

Children's Needs Aren't Met

Split custody isn't just about the time a child spends with each parent. It's also about sharing equal responsibilities and decision making in regard to your child.

Parents who worry more about the equality of the decision making over the quality of these decisions aren't working for the good of their child. This can result in neglect of what matters to your child.

Power struggles are more about the parents than the child. And it's not good for a child to be put in the middle.

Children should never have to relay messages or deliver child support payments. If parents can't work amicably to share decision making, split custody isn't the best option.

Find What's Best for your Family

If you are thinking of filing for divorce, it's never easy, especially if you have children. There's a lot to consider, and the right custody arrangement is so important for your child.

You need all the support you can get, and you need an experienced divorce lawyer to help you make the right decisions during this trying time. If you have questions, we'd love to help. Contact us today.