Legalese

Why make a will?

Written by  |  Thursday, 17 May 2012 11:04  |  Published in Legalese
by Susan Irwin, Lawyer/Executive Director The best reason for making a Will is to avoid what happens if you die without one, or "intestate". By not having a Will you give up the right to choose your beneficiaries (i.e. who will inherit your property), the amount of each beneficiary’s share, and the timing of distribution (immediately or at a future time). Dying intestate means that decisions about who is entitled to your property, how much each person receives and when they will receive it, are made under Ontario’s succession laws. For example, if you are married but have no children at the time of your death, Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act provides that your spouse will be entitled to your net estate. In other words,…

Where Can I Find More Information about Family Law Online?

Written by  |  Thursday, 10 May 2012 11:02  |  Published in Legalese
[For more than 2 decades Rural Legal Services (RLS) has written Legalese, a legal information column kindly published by the Frontenac News. It has recently been recognized by our colleagues in the Legal Advocacy Regional Network (LEARN) of which our clinic is a member, as a means to achieve its goal of improving access to justice and legal information to people who live in small urban and rural and remote areas of Eastern Ontario. Following our lead, LEARN is proposing to write a monthly legal information newspaper column under the banner LEARN LAW for publication in newspapers across the 5 county region of Frontenac, Lennox & Addington, Hastings, Prince Edward and Northumberland. LEARN column writers include local lawyers, the staff of community legal clinics such…

Income tax refund changes

Written by  |  Thursday, 12 April 2012 10:57  |  Published in Legalese
by Susan Irwin, Lawyer/Executive Director When filing your income tax return for 2011 you may have an unpleasant surprise if you are a low income person expecting a lump sum tax refund. In previous years, eligible taxpayers could count on a lump-sum refund from three provincial tax credits: the Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit, Ontario Sales Tax Credit, and Northern Ontario Energy Credit. Many people with low incomes relied on getting a lump-sum tax refund to help pay for more costly items or simply to pay bills. What you may not have realized is that over the last two years, the money for these tax credits began to be paid out in cheques issued throughout the year. The idea behind the change from a…

Family Breakdown - What is “Legal” Separation?

Written by  |  Thursday, 01 March 2012 05:11  |  Published in Legalese
[For more than 2 decades Rural Legal Services (RLS) has written Legalese, a legal information column kindly published by the Frontenac News. It has recently been recognized by our colleagues in the Legal Advocacy Regional Network (LEARN) of which our clinic is a member, as a means to achieve its goal of improving access to justice and legal information to people who live in small urban and rural and remote areas of Eastern Ontario. Following our lead, LEARN is proposing to write a monthly legal information newspaper column under the banner LEARN LAW for publication in newspapers across the 5 county region of Frontenac, Lennox & Addington, Hastings, Prince Edward and Northumberland. LEARN column writers include local lawyers, the staff of community legal clinics such…

Legalese: The “Your Legal Rights” Portal

Written by  |  Thursday, 16 February 2012 05:10  |  Published in Legalese
By Susan Irwin, Executive Director / Lawyer, Rural Legal Services The breadth of information available at our fingertips is truly amazing and exciting. It can also be our biggest challenge! With so much information just a click away on the internet how can you be sure that it’s accurate and reliable? This challenge is particularly acute for legal information where currency and jurisdiction are key concerns. Our laws are continuously changing, making it important to ask yourself if the legal information you are viewing is current, or up to date, and whether or not it applies to your situation. When looking at a website, remember that the law in Canada is not the same as the law in the United States or even Great Britain. You must…

Is Legalese important?

Written by  |  Thursday, 12 January 2012 05:06  |  Published in Legalese
By Susan Irwin, Executive Director / Lawyer, Rural Legal Services 2011 was not a prolific year for our Legalese Column. Some of you may have noticed its absence and may even have wondered if we were still in business. I can assure you that we are and that we will strive to have more legal information columns available in 2012. However, like many other public and private organizations, we have had to struggle to meet growing demands for service with limited resources. This means that we have to prioritize what services we provide. For those of you unfamiliar with our column or our services, Rural Legal Services (RLS) is a community legal clinic funded by Legal Aid Ontario to provide a range of free legal services to…

Small Repairs: A Cautionary Note for Homeowners

Written by  |  Wednesday, 08 June 2011 20:00  |  Published in Legalese
By Susan Irwin, Executive Director / Lawyer, Rural Legal Services There’s nothing like a long winter followed by a long, wet, spring, to remind homeowners about those repairs some realtors have been known to describe as “deferred maintenance” items. Aging houses sooner or later need new steps, or a window or two, or a door, or any number of repairs or upgrades that just have to be done. In an area such as ours, we are lucky to have many competent and honest builders and home repair people who do a good job for a reasonable price. Unfortunately, there are always a few who seem to do better sales jobs than actual work. This may account for “Home Renovations/Repairs” appearing as the number two consumer complaint for…

Tobacco: Expensive Cheap Smokes

Written by  |  Thursday, 19 May 2011 13:14  |  Published in Legalese
By Susan Irwin, Executive Director / Lawyer, Rural Legal Services If the Ontario government has its way, the purchase of cigarettes from a road-side “smoke shack” could get a lot more expensive thanks to the recently introduced Supporting Smoke-Free Ontario by Reducing Contraband Tobacco Act, 2011. The introduction of the act didn’t seem to attract as much attention as one might have expected, but it may have been lost in the background noise thanks to the federal election and its announcement on the eve of the Easter long weekend. The new legislation proposes numerous amendments to the existing Tobacco Tax Act, the upshot of which for people used to buying contraband cigarettes will be a whole new approach to dealing with these untaxed tobacco products. Not only…

Teens, Alcohol and Parents

Written by  |  Thursday, 24 March 2011 07:27  |  Published in Legalese
By Susan Irwin, Executive Director / Lawyer, Rural Legal Services Teens and alcohol are a cocktail that can lead to more than just the morning after headache and parental indignation. It can lead to legal problems that will persist long after the hangover is gone. Some of the problems that could arise for tippling teens were explored in a recent newsletter published by Justice for Children and Youth (JFCY). Like Rural Legal Services, JFCY is a community legal clinic funded by Legal Aid Ontario to provide free legal information and select legal representation. Unlike this clinic, which serves only eligible individuals living in northern Frontenac and northern Lennox & Addington counties, JFCY has a province-wide mandate to help low-income children and youth facing conflicts with legal, education,…

CPP retirement pension changes may affect you

Written by  |  Thursday, 24 February 2011 06:26  |  Published in Legalese
By Susan Irwin, Executive Director / Lawyer, Rural Legal Services Some of us may suffer from retirement envy with no freedom 55 in sight. Others may thrive in the workforce and want to keep working, while others may have no option but to keep working long after age 65 in order to make ends meet. Whatever group you fall into, new CPP rules being phased in through 2016 may have an impact on your retirement income and your decision about when to retire. According to Service Canada: “The Canada Pension Plan is changing to better reflect how Canadians choose to live, work, and retire”. Introduced amidst over much debate as to whether Canadians are saving enough for retirement and whether the Canada Pension Plan can withstand the…

Privacy

Written by  |  Thursday, 10 February 2011 06:25  |  Published in Legalese
By Susan Irwin, Executive Director / Lawyer, Rural Legal Services When a landlord rents a house or an apartment, he/she gives up certain rights normally associated with ownership.  Property owners generally assume that they have the right to enter on to their own land as they see fit. They may also think they have the right to enter into houses or apartments they have rented. However, once they rent a house, an apartment, or even vacant land, they have given up the right to enter onto their own property except in special circumstances. When premises are rented, the tenant is usually entitled to “exclusive possession”. In other words, the tenant has the right to “exclude” other persons from the rented property, including the property owner or landlord.…

Collection Agencies

Written by  |  Thursday, 27 January 2011 06:18  |  Published in Legalese
By Susan Irwin, Executive Director / Lawyer, Rural Legal Services There are many reasons why people fall behind in their payments, especially in recessionary times, but the debts remain outstanding however good the reason for non-payment. Collection agencies work on a very simple principle; for them to make money, they must collect money from debtors for their clients. To fulfill this need, some collection agencies have gone to great lengths, and caused a lot of grief by harassing the debtor, their families, friends, and even employers. In an attempt to discourage such practices, the provincial government passed the Collection Agencies Act. Under the Act administered by the Ministry of Consumer Services, the rights of debtors are clearly laid out along with a set of rules governing what…

The Lawyer as Grinch!

Written by  |  Thursday, 16 December 2010 05:34  |  Published in Legalese
By Susan Irwin, Executive Director / Lawyer, Rural Legal Services I am often of two minds about the upcoming Holiday Season.The non-lawyer par t of me enjoy Christmas and New Years and all that this special time of year entails, especially getting together with family and friends. The lawyer part of me however,wants to scream "Bah, humbug"! Why the lawyer as Scrooge or Grinch? It's simple really: over the next couple of weeks, with the season as a reason, or at least an excuse, people will do regrettable things, ranging from the remarkably thoughtless to the malicious,and lawyers who deal with people and their problems will get the calls. The over indulgence in seasonal "spirits" will likely be a recurring theme for many calls received by lawyers…

Who’s watching you?

Written by  |  Thursday, 09 December 2010 05:35  |  Published in Legalese
By Susan Irwin, Executive Director / Lawyer, Rural Legal Services It is indeed the information age. Information about you is being collected, sorted and stored by numerous governmental and private organizations. Perhaps there isn’t much we can do about the information collected as a result of our use of public services, but in our role as consumers we should at least be aware of the information that is being collected in our credit record, how it is being used, and our rights under Ontario’s consumer laws. For most of us, the reality of the information collected strikes home whenever we apply for a credit card, loan or mortgage. The lender will ask to run a “credit check” to see what the “credit bureau” has on file. The…

It’s Complicated …

Written by  |  Thursday, 11 November 2010 05:39  |  Published in Legalese
By Susan Irwin, Executive Director / Lawyer, Rural Legal Services It’s a complicated world and getting more complicated every day. Not a new or terribly profound statement, but it’s a reality that can have an enormous impact on the quality of life for many people. Increasingly government institutions and businesses rely on automated message systems and web sites to provide information so that we can, in theory, handle our own questions or problems without further assistance. Such reliance presumes a degree of functional literacy that not everybody has. Not everyone has a telephone, can clearly hear what is being said over that telephone, has a computer and a web connection, can see the screen, or can comprehend the instructions set out on a web page or printed…
Page 2 of 3
 

News From Across Frontenac

Click Here for More