Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to your most common legal questions

Corporate & Commercial

  • I want to buy a business. What's my first step?

    Buying a business can be exciting and daunting at the same time. There are many decisions to make and a lot of information to investigate. It is wise to seek the advice of professionals such as a lawyer as well as an accountant to identify the right business vehicle and method of purchase. You may for instance want incorporate or enter into a partnership or remain as a sole proprietor. A lawyer can explain the differences and benefits of each. You may also need to decide whether you want to purchase the shares of the existing business or the assets. You should retain the services of an experienced team of professionals that can help you make the right decisions and achieve your business goals.

  • What is a shareholders' agreement?

    A shareholders’ agreement is an essential document to any business with more than one shareholder. It allows shareholders to set the ground rules for the operation of the business so there is certainty as to what can or cannot be done, thereby minimizing the potential for conflict. A shareholders’ agreement facilitates an end to disputes by providing a mechanism for resolution instead of resorting to costly litigation. We can help structure a shareholders’ agreement customized to your business. We can also help prepare a partnership agreement if your business is operated as a partnership rather than and incorporated business.

  • I want to incorporate a company. What's my first step?

    We often receive calls from individuals seeking to set up a corporation for tax, financing or liability purposes.  This corporation may be for a new business, an existing sole proprietorship, or for the creation of a holding company.   In any event, RG’s experienced corporate  team is prepared to walk you through the process of structuring, incorporating and setting up your new company.  This process typically begins with talking with you, and possibly your advisors, to understand your individual needs, followed up with a questionnaire to obtain the specific information necessary to incorporate a company for you.

Employment & Labour

  • Can a union be decertified?

    All provinces have laws setting out provisions for employees to decertify unions. To make sure it’s done legally, speak to a legal professional.

  • I think I've been unfairly dismissed.

    Your best recourse is to seek legal advice to ensure your rights are protected.

  • Should I be having my employees sign an employment agreement?

    An employment agreement between an employer and employee spells out specific obligations for each and protects the rights of both. A lawyer can draft employment agreements to your specifications.

  • What items must be addressed when terminating an employee?

    In most cases, an employer can terminate an employee’s job at any time, but employers must provide proper written notice or termination pay instead of notice. Not doing so can prove very costly for employers and business owners. In certain circumstances, an employee may also be entitled to severance pay. An experience employment lawyer can help you with an evaluation of the amounts and risk relative to each particular employment relationship.

Family Law

  • My spouse and I have agreed to the custody of our children. Is a lawyer really necessary?

    The best interest of the child should be everyone’s aim when it comes to child custody. An experienced family law lawyer will ensure that the issue of custody is handled in a way that is clear and fair.

  • My wife and I are separating amicably. Do we still need a lawyer?

    Even if your separation or divorce is uncontested, it is important to have an agreement that is clear and based on full disclosure. Couples can prepare their own separation agreements and file for their divorce on their own but if you want to be sure that your rights are protected and the agreement is fair, both parties should obtain the benefit of independent legal advice. That is the best way to be sure that you will have an agreement that will last.

  • What is a pre-nuptial agreement or co-habitation agreement?

    Some couples choose to make a premarital agreement, for couples that are married, or a co-habitation agreement, for couples that are not married, as a way of clarifying their intentions and expectations, as well as their rights, should they one day separate. We can help draft an agreement that will meet your specifications.

  • What is collaborative family law?

    It is a dignified, cooperative approach to negotiating and settling issues arising from a family separation outside of court. Separated spouses, with the assistance of specially trained family law lawyers, negotiate their issues in a controlled, safe and respectful setting.

Litigation

  • Can I represent myself in court?

    You have a right to represent yourself in all court proceedings. In fact, it is quite common in the Small Claims Court system. But before deciding to represent yourself, you should consult a lawyer to make sure you understand the process and the pros and cons of representing yourself in court.

  • I don't want to go to through a lengthy and costly trial. How can I settle?

    I don’t want to go to through a lengthy and costly trial. How can I settle?

  • I've never been to court and now I have to appear before a judge. I'm very afraid.

    That’s a normal feeling. However, knowing you have a respected lawyer working on your behalf should calm some of those fears. Be sure to find a lawyer you trust and are comfortable with, who speaks in words you can understand and has the time to represent you properly.

  • Is hiring a lawyer going to be costly?

    The cost of hiring a lawyer can depend on a number of variables, including the complexity of the matter and the time and effort it takes to bring the matter to a conclusion deemed satisfactory by the client. It can also depend on the lawyer’s level of experience.

Real Estate

  • Do I need a lawyer to buy/sell my house?

    Yes. A lawyer is required to search title to the property to make sure it will be clear when you become the owner and to register the mortgage discharge and the new mortgage and transfer the deed at closing. RG’s real estate legal team will ensure you receive compensation for prepaid expenses such as, taxes or any heating oil left in your tank. The legal team at Riopelle Group will handle all legal aspects of residential real estate transactions, specifically, purchase or sale of property, refinancing, private mortgages, title and utility searches, zoning searches and title insurance.

  • What is land transfer tax?

    Land transfer tax is a tax payable to the Provincial Government by the purchaser upon the transfer of title from a seller. The amount varies depending on the purchase price but it is roughly 1% of the price of the home. Go to www.rglaw.ca to calculate the amount of your land transfer tax. If you are a first-time home buyer, you may qualify for a rebate of up to $2,000.

  • What is title insurance and why do I need it?

    Title insurance offers many benefits including protection from someone claiming a legal interest in your property and fraud. It is required by most lenders when there is no up-to-date survey available. It is relatively inexpensive compared to the coverage it can provide if it turns out that you need to make a claim. Given the investment you are making in your home, we highly recommend that you protect it with a policy of title insurance.

  • What kind of fees will I face when buying and selling my home?

    At RG we understand that it is helpful if we can give you the bottom line. We will give you a quote which is all-inclusive of fees, search and registration costs, title insurance and HST. We can also help you calculate other closing costs associated with residential sales and purchases, such as land transfer tax and adjustments for municipal taxes, water and heating oil.

Wills & Estates

  • Can I use a will kit instead of going through a lawyer?

    Getting legal advice helps you consider all likely and less likely possibilities in deciding how you want your property distributed after your death. A lawyer can answer your questions, highlight and explain the tax implications, guardianships, how to include grandchildren that may not be born yet and many more ideas. The rules on how to sign or execute your will are very strict. You must have two witnesses present at the same time and there are certain people such as your spouse or beneficiaries and their spouses that cannot be witnesses. The witnesses must also sign an affidavit of execution confirming that they were present at the same time and witnessed your signature of the will. Choosing the wrong person to be your witness is just one of the many possible pitfalls when attempting to draft your own will at home. It can be done but you need to be very clear and very careful. An experienced lawyer can help you with advice, good drafting and proper execution which will give you peace of mind.

  • Is it important for newly-married couples with no children to have a will?

    As long as a person has assets, a will is necessary to ensure your property, money and material goods are distributed as you wish.

  • What happens to my assets if I don't have a will?

    Your estate will take longer to resolve and cost more money and cause more frustration. Your assets will eventually be transferred to your closest living relatives based on formulas contained in provincial legislation. If you have absolutely no living relatives and no will, then your assets will be transferred to the government. The best way to ensure a smooth transition of your assets to the people you want to leave them to, is to prepare a well drafted will. It also allows you to choose who will act as your Estate Trustee and the guardians of your children.

  • What is a Power of Attorney?

    With a Power of Attorney document, you can name someone or a combination of people as your attorney to make decisions for you in the event that you are alive but not physically or mentally capable of making the decisions or carrying the acts on your own. In Ontario we should all have a Power of Attorney for Property and a Power of Attorney for Personal Care. If you do not have a Power of Attorney in place before disaster strikes, your loved ones may have to apply to the Courts to be appointed as the Guardian of your Person or Property. Of course this takes time, causes stress and costs money at time when things are probably already difficult enough. It is just as important to have your Powers of Attorney prepared as it is to have a will and will usually be handled at the same time as a package.

  • What is probate?

    Probate is the process whereby the court certifies an individual (a legal personal representative) who has the right to administer the estate of a deceased person. A probate application in Ontario requires the payment of provincial probate fees of roughly 1.5% of the value of the estate. Not all estates need to be probated. It will depend on the nature and value of the assets in the estate. To find out if an estate needs to be probate or what planning techniques you can use to avoid the need to probate and estate, you should consult and estates lawyers.

  • Someone has died and I am the executor. What do I do?

    An Estate Trustee (or Executor) is a person appointed to administer the estate of a deceased individual.  The role of an Estate Trustee can be overwhelming because it carries with it many duties, responsibilities, and legal obligations and no two estates are exactly the same.  For this reason, anyone acting as an Estate Trustee should  seek the advice of an estate lawyer early to understand their specific obligations in the administration of the estate.  When you make an appointment with RG’s Estate lawyers, they will sit down with you to review the Will, discuss the deceased’s assets, liabilities and obligations, assess the need for Probate and ascertain your responsibilities as Estate Trustee.   From there, they will work with you to establish a plan for the timely administration of the deceased’s estate.