October, 2021

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5 Contracts that Your Small Business May Need

Disclaimer: This article is intended for the purposes of providing information only and is to be used only for the purposes of guidance for small businesses in Ontario. This article is not intended to be relied upon as the giving of legal advice and does not purport to be exhaustive.

There are many different types of contracts that a small business might need, and it is important to know which ones you will need in order to avoid any problems. In this post, we will go over five types of contracts that a successful small business may need. There are many others out there, but these five should cover most bases!

At Beeksma Law, we are also entrepreneurs and are passionate about helping small businesses and entrepreneurs succeed!

In fact, one client recently said, The team at Beeksma Law made this process so easy for me! They helped me determine what I needed to include in my contract and helped me understand each component.”

If you want to take a closer look at your existing contracts or want to talk about some new ones, then do book a call today to discuss your business needs with our team.

Do I need a contract?

This comes up often, especially when doing business with someone familiar. There is a conversation and everyone is in agreement, so why have a formal agreement?

Because too often, memories of conversations become clouded over time. In the absence of a contract, assumptions can be made. Assumptions become misunderstandings that quickly snowball into disagreements.

Too often, we see small businesses in Ontario realize too late that an ounce of prevention would have resulted in a pound of cure.

Protect your relationships by having a contract in place. Clearly outline roles, responsibilities, expectations, and boundaries. Contracts don’t have to be complicated, but they do need to exist.  

small businesses in canada making a handshake deal instead of using a contract

Can I Do it Myself?

Let’s first discuss the danger of trying to write your own contracts or use templates from the internet!

Imagine you found a box lying in the ditch that said “cookies”.  Would you take it home and eat it? No! You have no idea where it came from and if it contains something that might be damaging to you.

It’s the same idea with template contracts. Unless you know the source, you cannot be sure if it is right for your business.  It could be written with a different jurisdiction in mind. It may reference antiquated legislation or a recent case may have clarified a certain point of how contracts should be drafted.

Whatever the issues, the result would be the same: you would have a contract that would not be serving your business and would, as a matter of fact, do real damage down the line.

Contracts for Small Businesses in Ontario

Knowing that you need contracts specific to your business, which ones do you need? Here are just some of the contracts that your small business may want to have in place.

Service Contract

A service contract is an agreement to provide some service, whether it is a one-time event or ongoing.

A good service contract will contain the following:

* Details of the service and how long it will take to provide.

* Payment details, including when payment is due and whether there are any fees for late payments or missed deadlines.

The contract should also contain a termination clause so that either party can terminate at their discretion without penalty if they believe the other side is not fulfilling their obligations under the contract.

Website Terms of Use Agreement

If your business has a website (and yours most likely does) then you will need a website terms of use agreement.

Basically, it is an agreement between your business and users on the website outlining what visitors can and cannot do with the information contained therein. For example, a strong agreement will contain copyright protection warnings or sets forth any disclaimers related to the information on the website.  It will also contain a privacy policy that discusses the collection and use of any personal information obtained.

Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)

In order to do business, you sometimes need to share information with a potential client or a contractor. An NDA, also called a confidentiality agreement, protects the confidential information of your business, whether it is a product or service you are developing or the processes that you use every day in your business.

You have worked hard to develop your business and that information should not be used to further someone else’s goals.  A non-disclosure agreement can help to protect your business and its intellectual property.

Lease

If your business has a physical location, you are likely going to be leasing that space. 

You are going to want a lease agreement that outlines the terms of your relationship with the landlord.  

As well, your landlord likely provided you with a lease to be signed.  You are going to want to make sure that your lawyer reviews that lease before you sign it. She will make sure that you fully understand and agree to its terms. She may also give you some recommendations on negotiating certain terms so that you have more rights. 

Additionally, your business may be creating or selling products, so you will need to include information in the lease about what can and cannot be done on the property.

While each business is different and each space is unique, a lease will generally include the following:

  • the parties
  • details about the space, including:
    • the address
    • a legal description
    • the square footage
    • the type of space (warehouse, office, retail, etc.)
    • the term of the lease
    • the amount of rent
    • any fixtures that are included
    • any security deposits
  • how the property can and cannot be used.

A lawyer that understands business contracts and real estate is an invaluable resource when it comes time to negotiate a commercial lease for your business. 

Partnership Agreement

You may not be starting your business on your own. You may be working with a partner.

Of course, you go into business with someone because you get along. What could possibly go wrong?

As it turns out, there can be many disagreements that arise in the absence of a strong partnership agreement. While ideally a partnership agreement is drafted before you start your business, it can be written up at any point.

Basically, a partnership agreement sets out the relationship between business partners and their individual obligations.  A partnership agreement should include: 

  • the amount of capital that each person is investing in the business;
  • how profits and losses will be shared, split, or otherwise distributed between partners;
  • how the business will be run; and
  • how the partnership can be dissolved.

In the absence of a partnership agreement, the Partnerships Act sets out default rules that may not be to your benefit.  Therefore, it is prudent to put a formal agreement into place that sets out the terms of the partnership clearly.

Prevent Issues Before They Arise

At Beeksma Law, we are passionate about preventing or de-escalating issues before they turn into larger legal battles. One way that small businesses in Ontario can avoid hefty legal expenses is by having the right contracts in place.

If you would like to learn more about how we help small businesses in Ontario, please click here or book a call with us.

How Beeksma Law Uses Technology for a Better Client Experience

Disclaimer: This article on finding a lawyer in Ontario is intended for the purposes of providing information only and is to be used only for the purposes of guidance. This article is not intended to be relied upon as the giving of legal advice and does not purport to be exhaustive.

When you are looking for an attorney, what is the most important thing to you? Is it the size of their office? What about their location or hours of operation? At Beeksma Law, we know that none of these things matter if you’re not getting results!

That’s why at Beeksma Law, we have embraced technology and integrated it into our practice. This blog post will discuss some ways that we use cutting-edge technology to create a better client experience!

Seamless Service

We have been using technology and modernizing our practice well before the COVID-19 pandemic began. However, we saw some real benefits during this tumultuous time.

Many of our clients wanted to avoid face-to-face contact as much as possible and to be honest, so did we! Meeting virtually allowed us to have face-to-face discussions with our clients without risking anyone’s safety. 

Also, we were able to continue serving our clients by using technology-based tools. When the lockdowns first began, our firm was prepared to continue business as usual with minimal interruptions. 

We had already invested in many technological efficiencies, including video conferencing equipment and cloud-based data storage. Our investments paid off during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing us to continue serving our clients without interruption of service or risk of infection.

Beeksma Law

Client Convenience

Imagine you are buying your first home and need to visit your lawyer’s office at least twice during business hours. That would involve taking at least 2-3 hours off for a one-hour appointment, depending on how far you are from your lawyer’s offices.

Logging into a virtual meeting reduces that time to minutes.  Our clients do not have to worry about fighting traffic, finding parking and losing valuable time to be able to receive sound legal advice.

As well, since the process is so simple, our clients are in a better frame of mind to truly understand our advice and make sound decisions.  Stress limits our ability to make wise choices so anything that we can do to remove that stress is very important.

Increased Access to Legal Advice

While our office is located in Hamilton, we have clients all across Ontario.

For those in remote communities, access to legal advice may be limited. A modern law firm that embraces technology opens up options to our clients. At Beeksma Law, we strongly believe that everyone should have access to legal advice.  Leveraging the online tools available opens the doors across Ontario.

Lower Overhead

An office is expensive. There’s the space itself, furniture, utilities,  supplies, maintenance, and the list goes on.

You can put more funds to work for the company or client when you have fewer overhead expenses. While many law firms still operate solely at an office, we’ve decided that keeping our overhead low was worth it when it meant better service for our clients.

Again, this is part of our pledge to ensure that legal services are accessible to as many as possible.

However, you may wonder if an electronically signed document has the same weight and legality as one signed in person.

beeksma law

Electronic Signatures

The short answer is, yes. Electronic signatures are governed by the Ontario Electronic Commerce Act (ECA). The law defines them as “electronic information that a person creates or adopts in order to sign a document and that is in, attached to or associated with the document.” 

In most circumstances, an electronic signature is just as valid and legal as a “wet signature” or one made in person. As with anything, there are certain circumstances that require special consideration. We will address the use of electronic signatures in a future article.

Shayna Beeksma, Beeksma Law, a lawyer in Ontario and her team that embraces technology to better service our clients

Finding a lawyer in Ontario

At Beeksma Law, excellence is our minimum standard. That means that we keep working with new tools, adapt to changing circumstances and leverage technology to provide the best service.

If you are looking for a lawyer in Ontario, and would like to learn more and see the difference for yourself, book a call here.

Tips for a Smooth Real Estate Closing

Disclaimer: This article with tips to buying a home is intended for the purposes of providing information only and is to be used only for the purposes of guidance. This article is not intended to be relied upon as the giving of legal advice and does not purport to be exhaustive.

The process of purchasing a home is stressful enough without the added anxiety of worrying about your closing. The last thing you want to do is be worried that something will go wrong and delay the entire process.

That is not how you want to start your life in a new home! That is why we put together a quick list of how you can ensure a smooth real estate closing.

Involve a Lawyer Right Away

Of the many tips for buying a home we can share, this is the most important. The sooner you involve a real estate lawyer, the more time your legal team has to prepare for closing.

Additionally, there may be potential problems that may arise. The sooner your legal team is involved, the sooner they will discover those issues and bring them to your attention.

Understand Your Purchase or Sale

It is important that you understand the process. If you are unsure of anything at all, ask questions. Ask lots of questions.

If you are the buyer, ask questions about closing costs and fees. If you are the seller, ask your realtor if they can provide a list of all expenses that will be associated with selling your property.

Your real estate team, including your realtor, your mortgage lender, and your real estate lawyer, is there to educate you and make sure you are empowered during your transaction. They should clearly explain different documents to you and make sure you fully understand the impact of the decisions you are making along the way.

A great real estate lawyer will explain everything in a manner that is easy to understand.

Plan and Budget

Besides the purchase of the house, there are many closing costs to account for, including any inspections and legal fees. Make sure that you have budgeted to account for these costs.

In addition to your budget, it may be a good idea to have an emergency fund set aside for any additional expenditures. For example, if the house needs repairs or maintenance after you move in and they are not covered by insurance. It is best to discuss these possibilities with your real estate agent so that you can plan ahead.

one of the tips to buying a home, budgeting for closing expenses during a real estate closing
Businessman working on Desk office business financial accounting calculate

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Communication is key in any working relationship, but it is critical for a smooth real estate closing.

You must be quick to inform your team if there are any material changes that may affect your deal, such as changing employers or any issues that come up with the house you are selling.

On the day of closing, it is particularly important to be in communication with all of the different parties. One of our clients recently said, “The team communicated with us regularly leading up to our closings and both closings were handled quickly and with as little stress as possible.” At Beeksma Law, we believe that communication is the cornerstone to a smooth transaction.

Have Confidence in Your Professional Team

Of course, the best tip we can give to ensuring a smooth real estate closing is to have dedicated professionals who are committed to your success!

At Beeksma Law, we have earned our clients’ trust by providing dedicated and attentive service. We are ready to help you through your next real estate transaction.

Contact us today for a free consultation to make sure that your closing goes smoothly!

Your Powers of Attorney: Important Documents You Need in Ontario

two cropped people discussing your power of attorney in Ontario

Disclaimer: This article on your power of attorney in Ontario is intended for the purposes of providing information only. It is to be used only for the purposes of guidance. This article is not intended to be relied upon as the giving of legal advice. It does not purport to be exhaustive.

Updated: December 2023

Life is unpredictable and sometimes things happen that were not part of the plan. That being said, we discussed how estate planning is important and how a will protects those important people in your life. 

However, that is not where estate planning starts and ends.  There are other documents, for example, a power of attorney, that you will want to have in place.

In this blog post, we’ll go over some of the most important documents you should have besides a will to protect your loved ones. If you would like to learn more about how we help our clients with their estate planning, please visit here or book a call with us here.

power of attorney

What is a Power of Attorney in Ontario?

A power of attorney gives a person (the attorney for property or attorney for personal care), the power to make certain decisions for someone (known as the grantor) who has given them power.

In other words, this person will have the same powers and rights as you when it comes to making important decisions on your behalf if you cannot make those decisions yourself.

What are the different types of power of attorney? 

In Ontario, there are two categories of Powers of Attorney:

    • Power of Attorney for Personal Care

    • Power of Attorney for Property

What is a power of attorney for property?

Let’s start with the power of attorney for property. A power of attorney for property is a legal document that gives someone the authority to handle your property and financial matters, including accessing your bank accounts if you become incapable or unable to make those decisions for yourself. 

There are two types of power of attorney: a continuing power of attorney or a non-continuing (general) power of attorney.

The difference between the two is within the name and the length of effectiveness. A continuing power of attorney will handle your financial affairs if you cannot, including if you are mentally incapable.

A non-continuing (general) power of attorney will cover your financial affairs, but not if you become mentally incapable. You may use this if you go away for an extended period and need someone to handle your affairs in Ontario.

What is a power of attorney for personal care? 

A power of attorney for personal care is a legal document that gives an individual the power to make decisions on their behalf – specifically health and personal care decisions – if they become unable to do so themselves. This can include decisions about medical treatment, living arrangements, and end-of-life care. 

The appointed individual, also known as the attorney for personal care, has the authority to make decisions in the best interests of the person who granted them the power of attorney. 

Who should you choose to make decisions about your personal care and finances? 

It is important to choose someone who is trustworthy and understands your wishes when creating a power of attorney for personal care. This document ensures that your wishes for medical care and personal needs are carried out, even if you are unable to communicate them yourself. A power of attorney for personal care provides peace of mind knowing that someone you trust will be able to make important decisions on your behalf if the need arises. 

An attorney must be at least 16 years old. You can choose your spouse or partner, another relative, or even a close friend. 

You do not need to name the same person to make decisions for both your property and personal care. You can name different attorneys for each type of power of attorney. For example, your trust business partner may be your attorney to make decisions about your money and property. You may appoint a different attorney, perhaps your spouse, to manage your health and personal care. 

Should I Name More Than One Attorney?

Appointing multiple attorneys in a power of attorney is a personal choice that depends on various factors. On one hand, it can provide checks and balances, ensuring that responsibilities are shared and decisions are made collectively.

However, it can also complicate decision-making processes if the attorneys disagree. Can the co-attorneys that you have in mind get along and work well together? 

Consider the following when deciding whether to appoint more than one attorney:

1. Complexity of Decisions: If your affairs are complex or involve diverse areas (financial, medical, business), having specialized attorneys may be beneficial.

2. Trust and Reliability: Ensure that all appointed attorneys can work harmoniously and are trustworthy. Conflicting opinions among attorneys might impede efficient decision-making.

3. Backup and Continuity: Appointing multiple attorneys can ensure continuity if one becomes unavailable due to illness, travel, or any other reason. In this instance, you would not need to appoint a new attorney, the remaining attorney would be able to step in. 

Do I Need a Lawyer to Make a Power of Attorney Document?

You don’t necessarily need a lawyer to create a power of attorney document, but consulting one can be highly beneficial. An estate lawyer well-versed in Ontario law can provide invaluable guidance tailored to Ontario’s legal requirements. They understand the intricacies of provincial laws and can ensure your power of attorney document complies with Ontario’s specific regulations.

Can I have a living will?

You may have heard the term “living will” before, but it is not recognized in Ontario. However, you can prepare an advanced medical directive that outlines your wishes if you cannot make those decisions for yourself.

You may wonder how that differs from a power of attorney for personal care. A power of attorney for personal care appoints someone to make those decisions for you.  An advanced directive will not name any individual but will set out your wishes.

This is important to have if you have strong feelings about your medical care, such as whether or not to prolong your life in certain situations or if you are morally opposed to certain medical procedures or practices.  Some include their advanced directive with their power of attorney for personal care, so their attorney is aware of their wishes.

trust for children

Do I need a trust for my children?

Many parents leave their estates to their children in the event that both parents pass away.  However, it can be concerning to wonder if their child will be ready for that responsibility on their 18th birthday.

Our role as parents is to protect our children and sometimes that means protecting them from themselves. 

A trust is a legal entity that holds your estate on behalf of your beneficiaries. You can appoint a trustee to distribute the estate as per your instructions. For example, that may mean allowing certain expenses (i.e. buying a home, university, etc.). However, you may hold back the bulk of the estate until the beneficiary reaches a certain age, such as the age of 25, when most persons are far more fiscally responsible than they were at, for instance, age 18.

Meeting about a power of attorney in Ontario

Comprehensive Estate Planning

As you can see, there is more to estate planning than a will. Of course, each document mentioned above has its own legislative requirements to be valid and legally binding.

Speaking with a lawyer about your estate planning is a necessary step. You can have peace of mind knowing that legal complications will not burden your family after you have passed.

Speak with us today about how we can ensure that your estate planning is comprehensive and fits your needs. Book a call here.