Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Recreational and Medical Cannabis

Medical Marijuana has been legal in Canada since 1999. There are a wide range of conditions that it is used for. Not all insurance plans will pay for medical marijuana. Every insurance company has a different list of medical conditions that they will cover. In most cases, you need to submit a "Prior Authorization" form to the insurance company before claims will be paid.  Some medical conditions that have been approved include:
  • Cancer (pain and nausea)
  • Multiple Sclerosis (pain)
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (pain)
  • HIV / AIDS
  • Palliative Care
  • Epilepsy (children only)
  • Multiple Sclerosis (stiffness and involuntary muscle spasms) i
Currently all medical marijuana requires a doctor's prescription and must be ordered online.
The two main chemicals in Cannabis that have been studied are:
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - the chemical that makes you "high"
  • Cannabidiol (CBD) - the chemical with medical applications
Most Medical Marijuana is primarily CBD. Most patients currently purchase it as an oil, though topical creams and capsules are also available.
Cannabis grow
Recreational Cannabis will soon be legal in Canada. The current anticipated date is October 17, 2018.
Once Cannabis is legal, Canadians (in most provinces) will be permitted to:
  • Purchase fresh or dried cannabis, cannabis oil, plants and seeds.
  • Possess up to 30 grams of dried legal cannabis or its equivalent in public.
  • Share up to 30 grams (or its equivalent) of legal cannabis and legal cannabis products with other adults
  • Cultivate up to four plants at home (four plants total per household). This option may not be available in condos and rental units.
  • Prepare various cannabis products (such as edibles) at home for personal use, provided that no dangerous organic solvents are used in the process.
In Ontario, the legal age will be 19+ and it can only be smoked on Private Property. Note - Non-Smoking rules take precedence. Where it can be purchased has not yet been determined.
If you travel to the U.S., entry is at the sole discretion of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers on duty - and they have a lot of latitude to ask questions to determine the admissibility of a foreign national. U.S. immigration lawyers are already warning Canadians that they could be denied entry to the U.S. - or barred from the U.S. for life - if they admit to smoking cannabis to a border agent. The drug is still a prohibited substance under U.S. federal law, despite legalization in some U.S. states.
If you have additional questions (such as how does this affect the workplace or what may be covered on your health plan) and want to discuss this area further, give me a call.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Digital Assets

Estate planning has changed over the years and now should include your digital assets and reference to them should be included in your will. Remember not to include too many details (e.g. passwords) as after your death, your will becomes a public document.
What is a digital asset? It is any information about you or created by you that exists in electronic form. This information can be stored in:
  • hardware (computers, tablets, smart phones, hard drives, flash drives,...)
  • cloud (stored on your devices or in the cloud)
  • e-mail
  • websites
  • social media accounts
  • PayPal
  • Banking (accounts and credit cards)
These assets include both personal and business ones.
What steps do you need to take?
  1. The first step is to download this form to use as a guide to document all of your digital assets.
  2. Then make a list that includes how to access them (where they are as well as passwords). Remember this list changes, so it will need to be updated regularly.
  3. Decide what you want done with each item. Should it be disabled (e.g. Facebook); should the assets be distributed (e.g. family photos and the value in your Tim Hortons card); should someone else have access (e.g. bank accounts).
  4. Decide who you want to handle these assets on your behalf.
  5. Talk to your lawyer. Remember to include instructions in case you are unable to take care of them during your lifetime as well as after your death.
  6. Store the information in a secure place.
  7. Finally - this information should be reviewed annually as it changes more frequently than physical assets (at least mine do).
Good luck with your planning.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Naming a Beneficiary on your Insurance & Investment Policies

In Ontario, the value of naming a beneficiary versus leaving money to your estate is significant.  

If you name a beneficiary, an insurance company is obligated, under the Insurance Act, to pay any death benefit proceeds to the named beneficiary on record. Because the death benefit proceeds do not pass through the estate, they not only avoid the delays of settling the estate but also bypass probate and other estate administration fees. In Ontario, probate fees on assets over $50,000 are 1.5%. Other estate administration, accounting and legal fees could be another 5% or more depending on the complexity of the estate.

The other reason to name a beneficiary is it makes the transaction private. Unlike a will - which becomes a public document, available for anyone to see when it goes to probate - naming a beneficiary means that only the person named needs to know the specifics. The extra privacy can prevent jealousy and tension among those named (or not named) in a will and reduce bad feelings over "getting my fair share".

Do you have a Life Insurance Policy, a Registered Investment Policy (e.g. a RRSP) or a Segregated Fund Investment Policy? All of these should have both a primary and a contingent beneficiary named on the policy (not in your will).

If you're not sure whether you have named a beneficiary, get in touch with me and I'll be pleased to help you out.