Why a will and list of your assets is important

There was an interesting article a few weeks ago in the Law Times about a lawyer tracking down the owner of a laneway in Mississauga: http://www.lawtimesnews.com/201404073898/headline-news/lawyer-describes-craziest-legal-odyssey?utm_source=responsys&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=CLNewswire_20140407

A property owned in the 1920’s was subdivided to create numerous residential properties but ownership of the remaining laneway needed to access the properties stayed with the original owner.

The current-day hydro provider discovered that it could not service the hydro poles along the laneway as it needed owner permission to do so – but had no idea who was the owner. There was no easement for hydro use along the laneway. This was a problem for the owners of the houses running off the laneway, who needed those hydro poles serviced.

A long odyssey then began for the surrounding home owners to track the 1920’s laneway owner’s descendants, find the will of the owner, buy off the laneway from the modern day descendant and then create a non-profit corporation to take over ownership.

It is interesting how the misstep from decades ago in not transferring ownership and thus not having full information on the assets owned caused this confusion so many years later. Had it been known that the laneway was still owned and had it been listed as an asset for ease of disposition later under the estate, this all would have been avoided.

This is a great example of why having a will and a list of assets owned by you can ease the burden on your executor and the beneficiaries.

Paul H. Voorn
Andriessen & Associates, Professional Corp.