What is a valuation date?

What is a valuation date?

During a marital breakdown there are a number of issues that need to be addressed before both spouses can move on to the next chapter of their lives. Depending on the length of your relationship there may be a number of assets that require equitable division. In most cases, matrimonial property can include all property accumulated during a marriage including both assets and debt. A variety of assets are captured including bank accounts, savings, RRSPs, the matrimonial home and other assets purchased during the course of the marriage.

In Alberta, Canada’s federal Divorce Act handles the legal landscape for both child and spousal support as it relates to divorce whereas Alberta’s Matrimonial Property Act outlines the division of matrimonial property. On January 1, 2020 amendments will come into effect changing the name of this Act to the Family Property Act and extending property division rules and criteria to adult interdependent partners. As a starting point, if the couple has a pre-existing agreement in place (e.g. pre-nuptial or co-habitation agreement) the division outlined in this agreement applies.

In the absence of such an agreement, the married couple has the option of coming up with their own property settlement contractual agreement outside of courts, however this legislation provides a fallback solution for the Courts to decide. Regardless of the pathway used the couple requires independent counsel and full, accurate financial disclosure to ensure the agreement’s enforceability.

Family law can be complicated and its always advisable to contact a local Edmonton divorce lawyer to understand your legal rights. Divorces and separations can be lengthy processes, especially if handled in court as opposed to mediation or collaborative law settings. As a result, a “snapshot” date has to be selected in order to assess a monetary value of all matrimonial property, also known as the valuation date.

Ideally, the separating couple secures as much supporting documentation as possible regarding income, property and debt values at the time of separation to facilitate monitoring changes that occur during the course of separation. Ultimately the valuation date is decided by the court after hearing both sides out. Although some assets are fairly straight-forward to value (e.g. bank balances) other assets can be challenging such as real estate or family-owned businesses. Certain assets may not qualify as matrimonial property.

Both parties have an obligation to be honest with one another by fully sharing financial information regarding all property each party owns. Even if the property is owned with someone else or located outside Alberta, there exists a duty to inform your spouse of it. This includes sharing any information on a property you may have gotten rid of in the past year. Typically this process is accomplished by a Notice to Disclose Court Document and results in a complete listing of all assets along with current values and dates and value when they were originally purchased at. These assets may fall into a variety of categories as per the Matrimonial Property Act. The debts acquired during this period are listed as well.

The Alberta Rules of Court also outline additional ways to secure financial disclosure through questioning under oath or through written questioning or in person. Not all property will necessarily be divided equally as certain categories are distributed based on what is fair in the circumstances.

In order to ensure compliance with the law and understand what you’re legally entitled to, it is advisable to retain the assistance of your family lawyer to help in populating your list. Once this information is submitted, the court will hear legal arguments and identify assets that qualify as matrimonial property and deliver the verdict on both asset value and division.

The judge will decide what is fair based on a variety of factors outlined in the legislation including:

  • Any pre-existing agreements between the spouses;
  • Income and earning capacity of each spouse;
  • Roles and contributions of each spouse during marriage;
  • Length of marriage; and
  • Prior court orders

The full suite of considerations is outlined in section 8 of the Matrimonial Property Act.

Speak with an experienced family lawyer today to better understand your legal rights as it relates to property division.

At Verhaeghe Law Office, our Edmonton divorce lawyers have experience in effectively dealing with matrimonial property issues and finding a timely resolution that is fair and equitable for both sides. Please contact us for a consultation today or by calling 587-410-2500 and speak directly with our legal team.

Note: This blog offers general information for your convenience and does not constitute legal advice. You’re encouraged to seek legal advice to better understand how family law may be applied in your specific situation.

Common Legal Issues faced by Businesses and Small Business Owners

Common Legal Issues faced by Businesses and Small Business Owners

Owning and operating a business comes with many perks but also some disadvantages - the looming threat of civil litigation being one of them. Lawsuits can cause considerable damage to your business' reputation and finances. Here are some of the most common factors that lead to legal issues for businesses:

Disgruntled Employees

Workers can form unions to increase their bargaining power against their employer to better their working conditions. This power also gives them the ability to come together and prepare a lawsuit if needed. Make sure to have a terminated employee sign documents drafted by a lawyer to ensure the terms of dismissal are clearly stated. It is essential to be familiar with workers rights to avoid inadvertently breaking any laws. Failure to do so leaves the door open for legal action against your company.

Discrimination or Harassment Cases

Whether it be sexual, age, ethnic or otherwise, discrimination in all of its forms can cause serious issues for your business. Ensure legal and human resources departments are well-suited to handle these issues adequately if they arise. When hiring, have all of the applicants' resumes on hand to prove you are making your selection regardless of ethnicity, age, or gender. Hold meetings regularly to oversee relations between employees and ensure discrimination is not occurring on a smaller scale. Office cliques should not be influencing decisions made by lower and middle management.

Sexual, racist or any other type of harassment can quickly turn a workplace toxic. Having periodic meetings to address employee concerns and reiterate company policy helps eliminate the likelihood of these offences occurring. Serious transgressions should be dealt with quickly by terminating offenders. Discrimination and harassment victims garner lots of media attention, which can damage your company's reputation and drain your budget. Be proactive by ridding your business of these problems before they start.

Immigration Audit

Make sure everyone in your company is legally able to work in Canada. Use police background checks to ensure false documents do not get past your management. Businesses found to be using illegal labour face crippling penalties.

Patent and Copyright Issues

Many companies in the tech and creative industries must deal with aggressive patent and copyright lawsuits. Be sure to do thorough research during the development phase of every project, or risk a messy legal battle should cross into a competitor's territory.

Dissatisfied Customers

Upset consumers can file class-action lawsuits by gathering a large group of customers to fight a company over broken promises, misleading services, or faulty products. These lawsuits can break your brand's image beyond repair. Be proactive about issues that arise by having sufficient tech support in place and recalling flawed products. Consumers appreciate companies that are honest about their shortcomings rather than those that try to cover them up.

Other Legal Issues

These are just a handful of the legal problems businesses face today. Several others include tax litigation and disputes with contractors and competitors. A hands-on approach and effective communication goes a long way with both employees and consumers when issues arise. For more information of how a Corporate Lawyer can help you, click here.

Please feel free to call on the Corporate Lawyers at Verhaeghe to help you with your start-up business, small business or medium to large business. We assist corporate businesses across Alberta to help them get in front of situations before they become big problems. As small business owners ourselves, we understand the challenges being faced by business owners in these new uncertain economic times. CONTACT US.

Are Companies Reckless With Your Personal Data?

Are Companies Reckless With Your Personal Data?

We live in an age where technology rules both our personal and business lives. Take a step back and think of the last time you signed up for a service online and actually read the Terms of Service (TOS) and Privacy Policy (PP) before pressing “OK.” Our team at Verhaeghe Law Office is betting you’ve never read one, but you’re not alone. In a study conducted by Jonathan A. Obar from York University and Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch from the University of Connecticut, 98% of participants consented to some pretty outrageous agreements when signing up for a fictitious social network site, Name Drop. Those terms, you ask? They agreed to give up their first born child as payment, and anything the user shared would be sent to the National Security Agency.

We’re not here to scare you into reading the ToS and PP of everything you sign up for, although you should. Many times, the language used in the documents is too complicated and redundant for most people. Sadly, many people think that the worst companies will do is sell their name and email to third parties for advertising purposes. In some cases, companies will have you agree to waive your right to collective bargaining so you can’t put together a class-action lawsuit, instead you have to settle your legal issues directly with the company. We’re guessing you don’t have several millions of dollars laying around your home to use toward battling them in court over the course of a few years.

What is PIPEDA?

On November 1, 2018, the addition of the Breach of Security Safeguards Regulations to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) went into effect. This law imposes new mandatory notification obligations on companies should a breach involving consumers personal data occur. So what does this mean for you? It requires companies, even privately-owned entities, to have the right procedures, technology, and capabilities to both identify and quantify the details of the breach. With this, they must have the correct procedures in place to report breaches to the proper authorities.

What Are My Rights?

You have the right as a consumer that any identifiable information you furnish in good faith to a company will be protected. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada lists the following as personal information:

  • Race, national or ethnic origin
  • Religion
  • Age, marital status
  • Medical, education or employment history
  • Financial information
  • DNA
  • Social insurance number or driver’s license.

Companies are now required to provide sufficient information to enable a consumer “to understand the significance to them of the breach and to take steps, if any are possible, to reduce the risk of harm that could result from it.” The law states that notices to the affected individuals must contain:

  • The day on which the breach occurred
  • A description of the personal information that was the subject of the breach
  • A description of the steps taken by the organization to mitigate the risk of damages
  • A description of the steps the affected individuals can take to reduce the risk of damages
  • Contact information for the affected individual to obtain additional information about the breach.

So, while you might not read the ToS or the PP of everything you sign up for online, you can rest assured that you will be notified in the case of a breach with specific details of the incident. Along with that notification, you will receive steps you can take to reduce or mitigate the risk associated with the breach.

If you feel a company didn’t safeguard your information or if you were harmed due to a security breach, please give our team a call at (587) 410-2500. Our lawyers are experienced in dealing with cybersecurity law and we work with cyber-security experts to help lock down and safeguard our clients data.

Richard Verhaeghe has been a guest speaker for the Legal Education Society in Calgary on several occasions and has helped small businesses including other Law Firms to transition to the “Cloud” and secure their data and has written several papers on this topic.

In a time where everything is migrating to an online platform, it’s nice to have a dedicated team ready to defend your rights on the information superhighway.

Why You Shouldn’t Leave Incorporating Your Business To Chance

Why You Shouldn’t Leave Incorporating Your Business To Chance

Your business is your livelihood. Even though you might have started it or inherited it, incorporating it isn’t a one-off, easy task. At Verhaeghe Law Office in Edmonton, AB, we find that many small business owners assume they don’t need a lawyer to help them with so many different do-it-yourself guides out there. That can’t be further from the truth. Why? Because incorporation documents are not a one-time activity, and they lay out the structure and purpose of your company going forward.

Why Incorporate Your Business?

To understand the complexities of incorporating your business, you first should know the reasons business owners do it.

  1. Personal Asset Protection - Business owners’ private property (e.g., house, car, etc.) are protected from business debts and claims.
  2. Tax Flexibility & Incorporation Tax Benefits - Incorporating allows businesses to deduct medical insurance, travel expenses, and other daily business expenses.
  3. Brand Protection - Incorporating safeguards your brand, which is an often overlooked benefit.
  4. Perpetual Existence - This simply means that the business continues despite any change in membership or the exit of the business owner or member.
  5. Deductible Expenses - Premiums that you pay on behalf of your company for medical insurance are 100% deductible when incorporated.

As you can see, there are many benefits from a monetary standpoint and mitigating personal liability perspective. Your business becomes its own entity while you continue to reap the rewards of your hard work. That’s even more reason to ensure that you find somebody with the expertise to handle incorporating your business. It can set you and your business up in the best possible position now and into the future.

Steps To Incorporating Your Business

According to the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada website, there are five steps to incorporating your business.

  1. Naming Your Corporation
  2. Completing Articles of Incorporation
  3. Establishing The Initial Registered Office Address And First Board Of Directors
  4. Filing Forms & Paying Fees
  5. Processing Your Application

While the ISED lays out the steps, our team can help ensure that the specific needs of your corporation are met. Canada, as a whole, applies very rigorous standards when granting names, as they need to be distinctive enough that people will not associate them with another organization or business.

Next comes completing and signing your articles of incorporation, which establishes the structure of your corporation. Any amendments or changes to this document incur a $200 fee.

Then, you must establish an office address where your corporate records and official documents will be served on the corporation. Since this address is corporate information, it is required to be made public. After this is established, you must file the appropriate forms for the type of corporation you’re establishing and pay the relevant fee.

Finally, your application will be processed, but it must include these three items to be considered complete:

  • Includes all necessary documents
  • Forms are complete and signed
  • Fee is included

Provincial and Territorial Registration

As you can see, the steps to incorporating your business are quite the process. Even after you’ve completed them, you also need to register with the Province and Territory within which you do business. Typically, provinces and territories require newly incorporated businesses to register within a few weeks.

It’s important to seek the help of our team of lawyers to ensure your business is incorporated to suit your needs. The steps to achieve incorporation can be difficult depending on your business, and you owe it to yourself and the future of your company to make sure that you’re set up correctly. For more information about how we can help you, give us a call at 587-410-2500 . We have a team of corporate and commercial lawyers ready to assist you in this exciting new venture for your business.

Questions to Ask your Real Estate Lawyer

Questions to Ask your Real Estate Lawyer

If you are going to be making any kind of real estate transaction, you will need the help of a real estate lawyer. Real estate lawyers can help with the purchase of a new home, investment properties, foreclosures, and any kind of complication that may arise while you are trying to close on a property. While there are some for sale by owner deals, bypassing realtors, you most often cannot get by without a lawyer, and so when it comes time to make your property purchase or do anything related to real estate you will need to find a lawyer that can represent you. Here are some questions that you can ask of your real estate lawyer to determine if they are a good fit for you.

What similar experience do they have?

While all cases are unique, you want a lawyer who has worked on similar real estate cases to your own. When you are making a simple home purchase, you can rest assured that they have the necessary experience, as processing property transactions are very common. Less common real estate needs are the ones that need expertise and experience, so make sure that your lawyer can handle them if they are what you face.

What is your fee policy?

When you are going through the process of buying a house, you should set aside a certain amount of money for legal fees. No matter what, hiring a lawyer will have additional costs, and depending on your needs those costs can vary. For standard home purchases, this is often a flat fee, but if there are any legal issues, court cases, or settlements associated with your case, then fees can add up. Discuss their fee policy and how they operate before you begin working with them so that there will be no nasty surprises for anyone. Remember, the more experienced a lawyer, the higher their fees usually are.

How can I reach you?

Your lawyer will have other cases and priorities throughout their time working with you. While this is true, you still want to know that if you have questions that there is an avenue where you can reach your lawyer or a representative from their firm. Whether a real estate paralegal administrator, junior partner, or person at the firm can answer your question, forward it to the lawyer, or get an answer from the lawyer for you, is essential and you want to know that there is a clear route for communication that you can rely on throughout the process. This is especially true for when you will be picking up keys to your new home from your realtor.

Real Estate Law with Verhaeghe Law Office

If you are looking for an Edmonton law firm to handle all of your real estate needs, then look no further than Verhaeghe Law Office. Our team of experienced lawyers have expertise in a multitude of areas, including real estate law, family law, estate and probate law and corporate law. If you have any real estate problems or are simply purchasing or selling a home, then contact us today.