Things may not always be as they appear.
Legal title does not necessarily equate to actual ownership of an asset, whether it is a home, recreational or investment property, bank and investment accounts. The circumstances surrounding the purchase or acquisition of an asset will determine who truly owns that asset. The asset may be held in trust, unless a gift was made.
Even when a gift is made, the circumstances around making that gift must be carefully considered to ensure that the donor intended to make the gift of his or her own free will and volition. The donor must have had the necessary mental capacity to know and understand what he or she was doing and must be free from undue influence in making the gift.
Non-monetary contributions can also lead to an ownership interest in an asset such that the registered owner is holding it in trust for the person who contributed to its acquisition, maintenance and improvement.
Your specific circumstances deserve the careful, focused attention that we bring to each of our clients in resolving their disputes.
Upon the death of a will-maker, the assets owned by the will-maker at the time of his or her death fall into his or her estate. Usually, these assets are in the name of the will-maker but there may be circumstances in which the will-maker held assets jointly with others for convenience. Those assets may still belong to the will-maker, even if, following the will-maker’s death, they are registered in the name of the surviving, joint registered owner. He or she may be holding the assets in trust for the will-maker and, following his death, for his or her estate. The specific circumstances surrounding the transfer of the assets into joint names must be carefully considered to determine the true ownership of the assets.
If the will-maker made a gift of an asset during his or her lifetime, the circumstances around making that gift must be carefully considered to ensure that the will-maker intended to make the gift of his or her own free will and volition. The will-maker must have had the necessary mental capacity to know and understand what he or she was doing and must be free from undue influence in making the gift.