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Real Estate

Our Clients Come First

Buying or selling a home is a very exciting time of your life and should not be a stressful situation. Our office can help provide you and your family with peace of mind and reduce unnecessary worry and concern. Regardless of whether this is your first home or if you have been through the process before, the laws surrounding real estate are always changing and each situation is different. There are financing arrangements, liens, municipal law, title searches plus a host of other details. It can very quickly get complicated and the keen eye of an experienced lawyer is indispensable from start to finish. We strive to help make sure that problems do not arise before, during or after closing. If any issues do arise, we ensure that they are dealt with not only in a timely manner, but also in the most cost-effective manner.

We want to give you the utmost confidence when purchasing or selling your home, and ensure you are prepared and informed at closing. One of our main goals is to ensure that your interests are protected when negotiating offers, reviewing clauses and conditions, as well as dealing with financial institutions. In addition, our office provides helpful assistance to you prior to closing, for example setting up utilities, cable and phone services.

Knowing that you have our office working with you to ensure that everything proceeds smoothly helps you concentrate on what’s important – your family’s future home.

What we can do for you

Our office would be pleased to assist you with all of your residential real estate needs, whether you are purchasing, selling, mortgaging or leasing your home or your multi-unit residential complex.

To use our services, simply request that your real estate agent forward a copy of your real estate sale/purchase agreement to our attention along with your contact information indicating the best time and means to reach you to confirm the information which we require to open your file in our office system.

In the event that you use our services to purchase a home, you can in general expect the following to happen:

Upon receiving a copy of your offer, we will contact you to confirm your name, address and contact information, and our retainer.

Following waiver of any conditions in your purchase agreement, we then make arrangements to conduct the title search for your property along with any required off title searches (e.g. building inspection, zoning, taxes, etc.), or we may have you consider title insurance if it is more economical and expedient. If we run across anything unusual during the search process, we will contact you to discuss the issues and to review the options for dealing with the matter and to seek your instructions for proceeding further.

Also during this period, we communicate with your mortgage company or bank, obtaining their instructions for preparing your purchase mortgage, and we will also advise the vendor’s lawyer as to the manner in which you are taking title to the new property.

We usually contact you a week before closing. At that time, it is our intention to provide you with an estimate of the dollar amount required from you to close the transaction and to set up an appointment a day or two before closing to meet to review and sign all of the closing documentation.

We will need you to provide us with proof of your insurance coverage on the new home. Your insurance agent is usually pleased to provide us by fax with an insurance binder confirming the coverage in place for closing. Please note also that your insurance agent will need the name and address of your mortgage lender to show their interest on the insurance policy. You must also make certain that you have met any specific conditions which your lender has set out in their mortgage offer to you.

If you would like more information, or have something specific you would like to discuss with us, please contact us by emailing us or by calling in Sarnia or Gore Bay

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Wills & Powers of Attorney

Family Comes First

We want to help ensure that your wishes are being met. Peace of mind for you and your family is the primary goal of our office when assisting clients in drafting wills and/or powers of attorney. Our office helps individuals manage their estate planning in a financially and fiscally responsible manner. The majority of people, if not all, wish to minimize the tax liability and ensure that testamentary gifts are provided to family and friends with minimal costs. A clear and concise will does not only provide a comprehensible set of instructions for your family in their time of grief, but can also remove any potential conflicts that may arise if an individual dies without a will in place.

Peace of mind for you and your family is also the main goal when drafting powers of attorney, for medical or financial purposes. A formal power of attorney helps remove stress from not only the affected individual, but also family members that may not be able to cope as well in trying situations. For example, appointing a friend and/or family member with a health or medical background is greatly beneficial when designating a power of attorney for personal care. The same reasoning would apply when designating a power of attorney for property and considering a friend and/or family member with a financial or business background.

An important objective of a will and/or power of attorney is to prevent unnecessary stalemates and ensure that proper decisions are made in a timely manner in accordance with one’s wishes.

Drafting a will

There are a number of reasons for making a will. You can name a guardian for your children should you pass away before they reach adulthood. Their welfare could be severely affected if provisions have not been made for guardianship in the event of your death. You can also ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes. Wills should be updated as circumstances in your life change, such as the birth of a child, a death in the family, marriages, divorces and property acquisition. You should also review your will regularly to make sure it continues to reflect your wishes.

Drafting Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney is protection for you in the event you become unable to make important decisions while you are alive. For example, you may be in a coma. With a power of attorney, you appoint someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf, such as handling your financial affairs or taking responsibility for your medical care. Joseph T. Santoro* is well versed in the preparation of powers of attorney, ensuring your wishes are properly recorded and communicated, and hence respected.

Tax Planning

One of the principal goals of estate planning is effective tax planning. We assist clients with their tax planning in the areas of intergenerational wealth transfer and business succession. Joseph T. Santoro* works closely with clients’ other advisors, such as accountants and financial planners, to ensure an efficient and tax-effective plan is put in place.

What we can do for you

Although will and estate planning can be a complex undertaking for some clients, for most clients, preparing a will or powers of attorney is not quite as onerous as you may fear.

We take initial wills and powers of attorney instructions by a consult appointment, and clarify during that initial conversation what issues may need to be discussed more fully with family members or partners before preparing draft documents.

Draft documents can be sent out to the client for review and any questions or concerns can also be addressed by phone if time is at a premium for the client.

When satisfactory drafts are in hand and all questions answered, all that is required to complete the service is a brief office attendance where we will do a final review and then ensure that the documents are properly executed and witnessed. Clients must remember that wills are designed to direct the administration of their affairs only after their death.

Most clients will also consider preparing powers of attorney at the same time to handle their affairs in the event that they should become incapable during their lifetime. In that unfortunate situation, the designated attorney (often the same person or persons who are appointed as estate trustees in your will), will be empowered to look after your financial affairs (continuing power of attorney for property) and your health care decisions (power of attorney for personal care). Preparation of these additional documents can often be handled in the same manner as the preparation of wills.

If you would like more information, or have something specific you would like to discuss with us, please contact us by emailing us or by calling in Sarnia or Gore Bay

Estates Administration

Acting as an estate trustee after the loss of a loved one can be an overwhelming and time-consuming process. Our office works in collaboration with estate trustees (also known as “executors”) to make the estate administration process as seamless and stress-free as possible.

The primary goal of our office when assisting an estate trustee is to uphold the best interests of the estate for the beneficiaries. This is achieved by acting in compliance with the wishes of the deceased as expressed through his or her Will. As such, our office can assist in this endeavour by encouraging prudent investments, notifying potential creditors, informing estate trustees of duties, relevant legislation and tax consequences, and assisting in distribution of estate assets to beneficiaries. We will also inform the estate trustee of any risks or personal liabilities that he or she may face with a given course of action.

Through our compassionate and comprehensive methods, our office will work to ensure that estate trustees are meeting all legal obligations. Our office will assist with the following:

  • Informing estate trustees of duties and legal obligations;
  • Preparing and filing with the court a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee;
  • Identifying assets of the estate;
  • Settling debts of the estate;
  • Arranging the transfer of real estate or personal property;
  • Determining and fulfilling tax obligations;
  • Lawfully distributing assets to beneficiaries;
  • And more.


To begin the estates administration process, we can help estate trustees collect estate property, evaluate the assets of the estate, determine potential debts and liabilities, identify beneficiaries and ultimately determine whether it is necessary to apply to the court for a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee.

Applying for a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee is a process that is more commonly known as applying for probate. This is where the person(s) named as estate trustee in the Will submits the Will and other relevant information about the estate along with applicable fees to the court. It is then for the court to approve the Will and confirm the appointment of the estate trustee, thus giving the estate trustee the legal authority to act on behalf of the estate. Our office will ensure that all applications to the court are completed expediently and competently.

Final Distribution

Our office can also assist with preparing the final estate accounting. This could involve some or all of the following tasks:

  • Communicating with beneficiaries;
  • Dealing with financial institutions;
  • Resolving debts with creditors;
  • Obtaining a tax clearance certificate from Canada Revenue Agency;
  • Transferring real property; and
  • Distributing estate assets.

From locating the deceased’s Will, to meeting tax requirements, to the final windup of the estate, administering an estate is often a lengthy and confusing process. Our goal is to make the process as easy and as clear as reasonably possible for the estate trustee.

If you would like more information, or have something specific you would like to discuss with us, please contact us by emailing us or by calling in Sarnia or Gore Bay