Why Have a Cohabitation Agreement in Ontario?

a happy couple hugging because they got a cohabitation agreement in ontario

Disclaimer: This article on drafting a cohabitation agreement in Ontario is intended for the purpose 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 and does not purport to be exhaustive.

Entering into a committed relationship with your partner is a significant milestone in your life. There is a growing trend in Canada towards common-law relationships. For some, the intention is to never marry. For others, they just haven’t tied the knot yet. 

Regardless, you must consider the legal implications. This is where a cohabitation agreement comes into play.

This article will explore why having a cohabitation agreement in Ontario is a wise choice. We’ll discuss the purpose of these agreements and address common questions.

What Is the Purpose of a Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is a binding contract. You may see it called a common-law or domestic partnership agreement. It is designed to provide clarity and protection for unmarried couples living together. Its primary purpose is to establish the rights and obligations of each partner within the relationship.

The property division sections in the Family Law Act only apply to married couples. This means that without an agreement, your property rights remain distinct from your partner’s. This is true even if you’ve been in the relationship for a long time.

Cohabitation agreements serve several essential functions.

Property Division: 

The agreement will typically outline how you will divide your property if you separate. This ensures that each partner’s assets are protected.

Debt Protection: 

Cohabitation agreements can safeguard each partner from the other’s debts. This means that if your partner accumulates debt during the relationship, creditors cannot access your assets.

Income and Asset Protection: 

One of you may expect more income or a financial windfall, such as an inheritance. The agreement can specify you will manage these scenarios. 

Clarifying Financial Expectations: 

The agreement helps establish clear expectations when it comes to financial matters. This will reduce any disputes if you separate.

Children’s Welfare: 

Cohabitation agreements cannot determine child custody or child support arrangements. However, they can address financial obligations related to your children from a previous relationship.

Inheritance: 

The agreement can include provisions regarding the inheritance of property if one partner dies. 

How Long Does a Cohabitation Agreement Last?

A common question that arises when discussing cohabitation agreements is their duration. Cohabitation agreements can be flexible and last as long you want. You can sign an agreement at any time during the relationship. You can sign one at the outset or years into your relationship.

However, these agreements can evolve if you get married. The cohabitation agreement may automatically transition into a marriage contract. 

The marriage contract will address the changed status and rights and obligations associated with marriage. It’s crucial to review and, if necessary, update the agreement to align with your new status.

Do I Need a Cohabitation Agreement in Ontario?

The decision to have an agreement is a personal one. However, there are situations when having an agreement becomes especially important:

Protecting Separate Property: 

Do you have significant assets or debts that you want to protect? A cohabitation agreement is crucial to ensure that they remain separate.

Financial Independence: 

Do you prefer financial independence? Do you want to maintain ownership of your assets? An agreement can clarify these expectations.

Avoiding Court Disputes: 

Having an agreement in place helps prevent disputes by spelling everything out and getting both of you on the same page. 

Protection for Children: 

Do either of you have children from a previous relationship? An agreement can outline financial support arrangements to ensure the children’s welfare.

Protecting your common-law relationship with Beeksma Law

In Ontario, the legal landscape for unmarried couples differs greatly from that of married couples. A cohabitation agreement is a valuable tool for protecting your rights and assets. To discuss your cohabitation agreement, get in touch with the team at Beeksma Law today!

What You Need to Know About Breaking Your Commercial Lease

breaking your commercial lease agreement in Ontario

Disclaimer: This article on breaking your commercial lease is intended for the purpose 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 and does not purport to be exhaustive.

Perhaps you are a business owner who has outgrown your current space. Or you are a landlord who has reached your limit with a difficult tenant. Regardless, one thing is clear: you need to break that commercial lease. 

This article will explore the process and what you should consider before breaking your lease. We will discuss this question from the perspective of both tenants and landlords. 

(Negotiating your commercial lease? Feel free to read this article on what you need to know.)

The Significance of Commercial Leases

Commercial leases are legally binding agreements. They outline the terms and conditions governing the use of commercial properties. These leases play a crucial role, defining the rights and obligations of the tenant and the landlord.

Lease agreements can be complex and specific to each situation. As such, the process of breaking a commercial lease may vary. The terms of your lease will dictate what you can do next. Below, we’ll explore some common strategies for both tenants and landlords:

Breaking a Commercial Lease as a Tenant

Breaking a commercial lease in Ontario as a tenant requires careful thought. You must adhere to the terms of your lease and to legal procedures. Here are several strategies tenants can consider:

Give Your Landlord Notice

When ending a lease that has a specific term, you can give your landlord notice. For monthly leases, one month’s written notice is typically required. 

Landlord Breach of Lease

If your landlord does not follow the terms of the lease, you may have grounds for ending it. This can occur if the landlord impacts your business by altering access to the property. In such cases, you can consider the lease terminated and sue the landlord for damages.

Sublease Agreement 

Under certain situations and with landlord consent, you can sublease all or part of the rented property. This allows you to pass on the use of the property to another subtenant. Keep in mind that you remain financially responsible for the original lease.

Assignment Agreement

Similar to subleasing, you can assign your lease to a new tenant. This means the new tenant takes over your tenancy and the terms of the lease. The landlord must agree to this arrangement.

Breaking a Commercial Lease as a Landlord

Landlords can also face situations where they may think they need to break a commercial lease. However, they do have other options. 

Distraint: 

Distraint is seizing someone’s assets to be paid for money owed. Landlords may be able to use this remedy to deal with outstanding rent. In that instance, they would enter the premises and seize goods with a value up to the amount of outstanding rent.

Damages: 

Landlords can sue tenants for monetary damages resulting from breaches of the lease terms. For example, if a tenant causes significant damage to the property beyond normal wear and tear, the landlord can seek compensation for repair costs

Injunction: 

Seeking an injunction can stop a tenant from engaging in activities prohibited by the lease. For example, if a lease explicitly forbids using the rented space for specific activities, such as operating a noisy nightclub in a residential area, and the tenant violates these terms, the landlord can seek an injunction.

Specific Performance: 

Landlords can seek an order of specific performance to force a tenant to fulfill lease obligations.

However, sometimes a landlord’s only option is to terminate the lease. Here are some common remedies that are available. 

Forfeiture: 

Landlords can terminate the lease by providing written notice to the tenant and preventing them from entering the premises.

Writ of Possession: 

In some cases, physically excluding the tenant is impractical. In those cases, landlords can obtain a writ of possession to take possession of the property on their behalf.

Seek Professional Assistance to Break Your Commercial Lease

Whether you’re a tenant or a landlord, breaking a commercial lease in Ontario is no simple matter. It’s essential to consult an experienced business lawyer to ensure as smooth a process as possible.

If you find yourself in such a situation, don’t hesitate to reach out to legal experts like Beeksma Law. Our team of experienced lawyers has the expertise to guide you through the process and protect your interests. Book your complimentary consultation today

Dissolving a Corporation in Ontario

A store sign that reads "sorry, we're closed" representing someone dissolving a corporation in Ontario

Disclaimer: This article on dissolving a corporation in Ontario is intended for the purpose 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 and does not purport to be exhaustive.

Whether you’re in the process of closing your business, embarking on retirement, or facing any other situation that leads to the conclusion of your corporation, ensuring a smooth and effective closure is essential. 

If you’re seeking guidance on the best approach to dissolving your corporation, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll provide you with valuable insights to ensure that the process of ending your corporation is executed correctly.

Reasons for Dissolving a Corporation

There are various reasons why a corporation may need to be dissolved in Ontario. While corporations may be involuntarily dissolved under the Ontario Business Corporation Act, this article will only consider voluntary dissolutions. It could be due to the company no longer being profitable, a change in business direction, the owner retiring, or the decision to pursue other opportunities. 

Corporations may choose to dissolve if they want to consolidate or restructure their business. This could involve merging with another company or spinning off certain divisions. Dissolution provides a legal framework for these changes. 

Whatever the reason, it’s important to understand the implications and legal requirements that come with dissolving a corporation.

What happens when you dissolve your corporation?

When a corporation is dissolved, it means that the legal existence of the corporation comes to an end. The company is officially closed, and its operations cease. The process involves settling all debts, distributing assets to shareholders, and fulfilling legal obligations.

It is worth noting that you can only dissolve your corporation if there are no lawsuits against it and you will need to make a statement to this effect. Therefore, if there are any lawsuits against you and you do dissolve the corporation, the other party will file a motion with the court to have you revive the corporation, and the lawsuit will continue. 

Once a corporation is dissolved, it cannot continue to conduct business under its previous legal structure. The business activities associated with the dissolved corporation must stop. This includes sales, transactions, and any other operational functions. 

Legal Requirements for Dissolving a Corporation in Ontario

There are differences between dissolving an Ontario corporation and a Federal corporation. Here’s a broad breakdown of what is involved. 

Step 1: Make sure your corporate minute books are up to date. 

First, make sure your minute book is up to date. You can learn more about what should be in your minute book here. 

Step 2: Drafting Resolutions

Next, your corporation’s lawyer will craft resolutions that authorize the dissolution of your corporation. This includes a special resolution that needs approval from the corporation’s shareholders.

Step 3: Fulfilling Debts and Obligations

Before proceeding, it’s vital to settle all outstanding debts and obligations. Speak to your accountant, as the corporation must clear any unpaid taxes, file its final tax returns, and obtain essential tax clearances. 

But what if there are remaining assets after settling debts and obligations? These should be distributed among shareholders according to their rightful entitlements, such as the Articles of Dissolution in Ontario. 

Step 5: Government Filing

If the corporation is devoid of assets and debts, the next phase involves filing the appropriate forms and supporting documents. To dissolve an Ontario corporation, you must file Articles of Dissolution. Once confirmation of the dissolution is received—typically in the form of a “Certificate of Dissolution”—it’s important to update the corporation’s minute book to reflect this change.

Step 6: Retaining Records 

Once your corporation has been dissolved, retain your records, such as your corporate minute book, proof of dissolution, and other pertinent corporate records. This ensures that your documentation remains intact and accessible for any future requirements.

By following these steps, you can successfully dissolve your corporation and move on to your next venture.

Tax Considerations When Dissolving a Corporation

Dissolving a corporation involves significant tax considerations. You must think about your final tax returns and seek professional tax advice to identify potential benefits like capital losses and deductions. Shareholders should also account for personal tax liabilities, particularly if assets are distributed as dividends, in order to effectively plan and minimize tax burdens.

Seeking Professional Assistance for a Smooth Dissolution

If you want to move on to the next chapter, you want to ensure you are doing so correctly. You need support from knowledgeable professionals, such as your accountant and an experienced business lawyer. 

So, if you’re considering dissolving a corporation in Ontario, don’t hesitate to reach out to Beeksma Law. Our team of business lawyers has the expertise and knowledge to provide you with the necessary support and guidance to dissolve any worries you may have. 

4 Benefits of Having Contracts for your Small Business

a woman looking at her small business contract

Disclaimer: This article on small business contracts is intended for the purpose 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 and does not purport to be exhaustive.

Starting a new business can be incredibly rewarding and incredibly overwhelming. Not only are you trying to make your vision a reality, but you are suddenly thrust into entrepreneurship and everything that goes with it. From keeping your finances in order to figuring out how to best market your business, there is a lot to do.

So, amongst all those things on your to-do list, why should you prioritize having proper contracts? While there are many benefits, this article will focus on four:

  • Contracts ensure all the parties know what to expect.
  • They impact how your client views you and your level of professionalism.
  • Contracts prevent scope creep.
  • Finally, they affect your cash flow and make it easier to get paid.

Benefit #1: They get everyone on the same page

One main advantage of proper contracts is that they get rid of ambiguity. When you have every detail clearly defined and agreed upon, contracts get everyone on the same page, knowing what to expect and how your working relationship will move forward.

It can also save you time – instead of answering questions or clarifying terms, you can focus on doing what you love!

Benefit #2: It solidifies your image as a trustworthy professional.

Your contract is part of how you show up and represent your brand. Crafting a top-notch contract showcases your business as professional and dependable, showing your willingness to stand by the agreed terms.

A contract signifies your dedication to your business relationships and demonstrates that you’re placing your reputation on the line for the success of these relationships. Your contract sets the expectation that you will provide the same level of care throughout your working relationship, giving those who work with you confidence in the whole process.

Benefit #3: It prevents “scope creep.”

Service professionals are well-acquainted with the concept of scope creep. Scope creep happens when the original parameters of a project gradually expand beyond the initial agreement.

Without a well-defined contract, it’s easy for “one more thing” to multiply into a long to-do list, often leading to frustration, misunderstandings and more time on a project than you bargained for.

A comprehensive contract safeguards against scope creep by clearly outlining the scope of work, deliverables, timelines, and potential additional costs.

There’s less room for ambiguity when both parties clearly understand what’s included. You and your clients can be on the same page from the beginning, which reduces the likelihood of disputes arising from misunderstandings or misaligned expectations.

Benefit #4: It is better for your finances.

If your contract spells out what you will be paid and when it creates a more predictable cash flow for your business. This predictability allows you to plan your finances better, allocate resources, and manage your business operations more effectively.

In addition, having a solid contract means you are less likely to have situations where clients delay payments or try to renegotiate payment terms later. If there’s a disagreement about cost, you can refer to the contract terms and find a resolution based on the agreed-upon terms.

Protect Your Business With Beeksma Law

At Beeksma Law, we have the expertise to tailor custom contracts for your business. Rather than relying on generic templates from the internet, you can experience the assurance that a dedicated lawyer, well-acquainted with your business, is actively involved in crafting contracts that will bolster its foundations.

We are also closely connected to our small business community. Shayna Beeksma, the founder of Beeksma Law, is part of various groups for entrepreneurs and has mentored many small business owners.

We understand the challenges you face and the importance of solid contracts to protect the business you are so passionate about. Book a call with our team today to discuss your business needs!

Estate Planning and Owning Foreign Property

a beachfront condo - shown as an example of foreign property ownership that must be considered when preparing your will.

Disclaimer: This article on foreign property ownership is intended for the purpose 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 and does not purport to be exhaustive.

Whether it’s your condo in Florida or the family home you still own in a foreign country, you need to consider all of your property when preparing your estate documents. This blog post will briefly outline what you should consider as a foreign property owner and the nuances of estate planning across different jurisdictions.

Seeking Expert Legal Advice Around Foreign Property Ownership

A valid will in Ontario may not be enough if you own property in another jurisdiction. When beginning your estate planning, you will want to seek advice from a local lawyer. Legislation, regulations and practices vary quite a bit between countries. If you own property in the United States, the law will even differ from state to state. So you will want to speak to an estate lawyer in that jurisdiction to understand local property laws more clearly. 

Benefits of Preparing a Will in the Jurisdiction of the Foreign Property

Having a will prepared in the jurisdiction where your foreign property is located brings a sense of certainty and simplicity to the estate planning process. If probate is required, the courts in that jurisdiction will handle the process based on the will specifically drafted for that location. This approach ensures that your executor faces minimal obstacles while finalizing your estate.

Resealing: An Option for Common Law Jurisdictions

In some cases, especially when dealing with common law jurisdictions, “resealing” a probate certificate can be an option. Resealing refers to the process of using an existing probate certificate from one jurisdiction and applying it to another. 

For example, if you have a will probated in Ontario, Canada, and own property in upstate New  York, you may be able to reseal the probate certificate there. This process can save time and expenses as you don’t need to create a new will for each jurisdiction. However, we would consult with a lawyer familiar with the local laws to ensure resealing is a viable option.

Considerations for Civil Law and Non-Common Law Jurisdictions

There are different legal systems, the most common of which are civil and common law. Most of Canada operates under a common law system, except for Quebec. If you are in Ontario and preparing a will, it is based on the common law system. 

If you own property in another common law jurisdiction, you will most likely be able to reseal the probate certificate. Other common law jurisdictions include the United States, Britain, and most Caribbean countries.  However, for example, France and Italy follow a civil law system. Countries like Saudi Arabia and Yemen follow an Islamic law system. 

If you own property in a jurisdiction that is not governed by a common law system, resealing will likely not be possible. In such cases, you are better off drafting a separate will for each jurisdiction to ensure your assets are distributed according to the laws of that country.

Owning properties in multiple jurisdictions

Let’s say that you own property in multiple states within the United States. Does that mean you are creating a will for each state? 

While having a separate will for each state is possible, it can become cumbersome and expensive. Some people opt to draft one set of estate documents to cover all their assets. Their executor would then reseal the probate certificate in each jurisdiction where they own property. We determine your best option on a case-by-case scenario, so contact us about your property ownership. 

Beeksma Law: Creating an estate plan that works for you

When preparing your estate documents as a foreign property owner, there are numerous factors to consider, and seeking expert legal advice is crucial. Beeksma Law is here to help you navigate the complexities of estate planning across different jurisdictions. 

We understand that each situation is unique, and we will work closely with you to create an estate plan that caters to your specific needs and circumstances. Contact Beeksma Law today, and let us help you protect your legacy and secure your foreign property investments for the future.