Summer Giveaway Winners Announced

Congratulations to the winners of our summer newsletter! Thank you to everyone who entered.

Missed our newsletter? Interested in the B.C. homeowner’s grant, Canada’s new mortgage stress test rules, or the process it takes to become a Notary Public in B.C? Though our draw has closed, you can still read our newsletter here!

Have a happy and healthy summer, and check back soon for our next update!

June 2021 Notary Newsletter

Click HERE to view our June 2021 Notary Newsletter

The Education of a BC Notary From a Student’s Perspective

Have you heard our Notary in training, Vicky Helmink, has published an article in The Scrivener?  Interested in what it takes to become a BC Notary? Click here to view Vicky’s article on The Education of a BC Notary From a Student’s Perspective.

Changes to Homeowner Grants 2021

Changes to Homeowner Grants

Attention homeowners! Applying for your homeowner grant will look a little different this year. Starting now, all homeowner grant applications will be done directly through the BC Government using their new online portal. Applications are no longer filed through your local municipality; however, you will still receive the homeowner grant application information along with your notice in May 2021.

As a home owner, our Notary, Beverly Carter, decided to test out the new process online and surprisingly thought it was easy! Here are some tips that she thinks will make it easier for other home owners, especially help to better understand the numbering system on your tax notice.

Here is what you need to know about the changes:

  • You may apply for your homeowner grant now but it will not be processed until after tax notices have been mailed out.
  • BC Government dedicated online portal to apply is here: https://www.etax.gov.bc.ca/btp/HOG/_/
  • For people who do not have computer access, the Homeowner Grant Applications may also be done over the phone or at select Service BC centres.
  • To apply online you need to have your property information. We have listed below the jurisdiction numbers for the Greater Victoria and south Vancouver Island area:
    • Jurisdiction Number
  • Central Saanich: 302
  • Oak Bay: 317
  • Colwood: 213
  • Saanich (SD61): 308
  • Duncan: 207
  • Saanich (SD62): 389
  • Esquimalt: 307
  • Saanich (SD63): 309
  • Gulf Island Rural: 764
  • Sidney: 476
  • Gulf Islands Rural: 763
  • Sooke: 349
  • Highlands (SD61): 361
  • Victoria Rural: 761
  • Highlands (SD62): 362
  • Victoria Rural: 762
  • Highlands (SD63): 363
  • Victoria: 234
  • Langford: 327
  • View Royal (SD61): 401
  • Metchosin: 344
  • View Royal (SD62): 402
  • North Saanich: 332
  • Roll Number/Folio Number. It can be found on your tax notice, or on the BC Assessment property search website.
  • Social Insurance Number

 

After you Apply

  • Save your confirmation number. Note: it will also be emailed to you.
  • You can check your application status on the BC Government’s website using your confirmation number here: https://www.etax.gov.bc.ca/btp/HOG/_/

Additional Information Regarding Homeowner Grants

  • For full grant eligibility your property must be assessed under $1,625,000
  • For properties assessed between $1,625,000 and $1,739,000, a partial grant is available *rural properties have a different value
  • Capital Regional District (CRD), Metro Vancouver Regional District and the Fraser Valley
    • Basic grant $570
    • Seniors/Veteran/Person with Disabilities: $845
  • All other areas of the province:
    • Basic grant: $770
    • Seniors/Veteran/Person with Disabilities: $1045
  • Missed claiming your 2020 Homeowner grant application?
  • Property taxes are always due the 1st business Tuesday of every July
  • Not sure where to locate your property’s jurisdiction or folio number? See the image below to see how you can locate them on BC Assessment’s website.

 

 

Questions

Q1: How will I know my homeowner grant has been applied?

A1: You can check the status of your application by calling an agent who will be able to look up your account and let you know if your homeowner grant has been applied to your account.

To speak with an agent you can call 250-387-0555 or toll-free at 1-888-355-2700.

***

Q2: What amount do I pay on my tax notice?

A2: The only change to homeowner grants is how you apply. Instead of applying through your municipality you apply directly through the province.

When you receive your property tax notice, you will see three distinct columns with calculated taxes for different eligibilities. Column A- not eligible for the grant, Column B –eligible for the regular grant, and Column C – seniors/additional grants.

For example, if you qualify for the Homeowner Grant, you will pay the amount calculated for Column B.

***

Q3: Will the BC Government send me a cheque for the amount of my homeowner grant?

A3: No cheque will be sent for the homeowner grant. You pay the tax owing in either column A, B, or C (depending on your eligibility) before the property tax due date. If you are eligible and applied for the homeowner grant, you will pay Column B’s calculated amount which factors in the homeowner grant.

If you pay for the full amount (Column A) but qualify for the homeowner grant you may apply for a refund. You must speak with an agent by calling 250-387-0555. Only then will a cheque be administered in the mail once the refund process is complete.

***

Q4: Is it better to wait to get my tax notice to do this?

A4: Yes, you should wait to receive your notice before applying for the grant. Applications will not be processed until after tax notices have been sent out.

 

Q5: Should I claim the grant if I am selling my house?

A5: Generally, yes. However, if your house has a firm contract for sale and/or is very close to your completion date (the day the legal transfer of ownership takes place) then check with your Notary Public or lawyer first.

****

Q6: Should I claim the grant if I am purchasing a house?

A6: You cannot claim before you own a house. Discuss this with your Notary Public or lawyer as the homeowner grant may have already been claimed by a seller of the property.

*****

Q7: What is the difference between the Capital Regional District and Capital Assessment Area?

A7: The Capital Regional District includes the 13 municipalities that make up Greater Victoria. These areas have a basic amount of $570.

Capital Assessment Area: they are the rural areas of the province overseen by the Ministry of Finance for tax purposes. They are the areas qualify for the higher grant of $770.

****

Q8: Are there any tips you think we should pass along?

A8: If you unsure about the new application process, you can speak with a representative at 250-387-0555 who will be happy to help you through the application process. And of course, do not forget to pay your taxes on time!

Application Process at a Glance – PDF 

April 2021 Notary Newsletter

Click HERE to view our April 2021 Newsletter

February 2021 Notary Newsletter

Click HERE to read our February 2021 Newsletter

Managing Grief

Read Beverly’s article “Managing Grief” in the Winter 2020 issue of The Scrivener here.

The article continues below:

Good Grief: Part 1 Be Kind to Yourself

Grief is an inevitable, inescapable part of life. Over the past 25 years, I have experienced the deaths of five members of my immediate family; three resulted from a sudden tragic event or accident and two were more or less predictable. Each experience of death has brought a deeper, meaningful awareness and understanding of just how important communicating is in our healing. As a start, I found one of the hardest things was communicating with myself. A normally capable and energetic woman, I was brought to a standstill in a way that no previous life experience or education ever prepared me.

And somewhere, maybe osmosis from my culture, crying (or PDG “Public Display of Grief”) seemed a personal weakness.

One day, with my two-and-a-half year-old in tow, I broke down sobbing in the public library and shared my story with the librarian who just happened to be close. The librarian modelled compassion by listening  and giving time and words of comfort to help me get through my day. Unbeknownst to me at the time, my learning from her was twofold:

  • to communicate permission to yourself to accept your expressions of grief; and
  • not to be afraid to communicate with someone in their grief.

By personally accepting that I was allowed to grieve, letting myself learn and help other people deal with this roller coaster of a ride with unexpected twists or turns (of grief), paved the way to healthier grieving.

There is no one-size-fits-all, but our inner dialogue matters.

You are not perfect and never will be. Just do your best in the moment.

Here are 10 points I learned about grieving.

Acknowledge Yourself

  1. What I am dealing with really sucks.

There is often no preparation for grief except life experience. I always say no experience is bad, but some are hard. In a recent discussion with a war vet who experienced severe PTSD, we found a shared experience where we have turned our past challenges into positive ones. Every time an ambulance passes me, I always take pause to send positive thoughts to the person inside and to the person’s family.

  2. PDG is not weakness. It is my current reality. It is stress-relief.

Get comfortable with it as not every hour of every day is great. From one who knows, eventually there will be more better days than bad. Sometimes you may start out crying
and end up having a laugh.

3. My new normal does not allow me to do my old normal.

Grief is exhausting. Period. Brain fog can be normal for months. More sleep and a good work/life balance are important. In some cases, we will have energy to start to resume our regular activities soon after our loved one has died but be prepared for that to change . . . sometimes months down the road.

I have a friend who grieved her husband after he battled multiple bouts with cancer. She went back to work after the first week he died because that is what she needed
then. She needed something in her life to seem normal and routine and just give her a reason to wake up in the mornings. At month 6, she was exhausted. At that point, she
embraced her grief and took a leave of absence from work for 3 months.

4. I will practise forgiveness of myself.

You are not perfect and never will be. Just do your best in the moment. Forgive thyself for not being the superstar or not completing things normally. Maybe you are short with other people and say things in a way you did not mean. Maybe there is just not much engagement in dayto-day activities. Perhaps you feel as if you are floating along and, while physically present, mentally you are checked out.

 5. I will practise forgiveness of others.

Most people come from a heartcentred place, even when they put their foot in their mouths. Fear can take hold of our natural support circle and cause people to act in ways that may seem foreign to you. Death is not a comfortable topic for many people and they may not have a lot of framework around how to act or what to say. In my own experience, I found the more traumatic the event, the more challenged my friends and family were. In some cases, I never saw people again. It was probably that aspect of how that one event changed the relationships with my people that compounded my grief experience. Oddly, I could handle the death (with time and healing), but how people changed hurt a lot. At the same time, some people outside my inner circle really stepped up to the point where I saw them in a new light.

 6. I will practise gratitude.

Mentally tell yourself every day three aspects of your life for which you are grateful. While not everything about life will seem rosy during grief, turning your mind to something positive can help your mood and energy.

7. I will have at least one activity to define my day that gives me space and time to heal.

Take a walk. Take a bath. Look at some photos. Smile. Look at the sky, nature, or birds.

 8. I will accept help from my circle of people.

Keep a list of “to do’s” and if someone asks to help, say to yourself, “I give myself permission to share this task.”

 9. I will keep doing something I normally love.

After Dad died, I did not feel like getting off the couch to do my favourite weekly activity of sailing. I was exhausted yet surprised that grief had crept into my being. It was no easy task, but I recall a conversation on the boat when the crew was talking about another sailor who left the sport because of a divorce. Several years later, he simply said, “I wish I’d kept sailing.” The real meaning was he let grief get in the way of living. In my experience, it took about 6 months before the joy returned, but I always
felt physically and mentally better after my day of sailing.

   10. I will seek help from a counselor or therapist.

As well-meaning as our friends and family are, sometimes we just need a boost. We can get stuck. It is truly okay to accept a helping hand from a professional source.
Grief is a predictably unpredictable human experience. An individual’s grieving process is as unique as each person. It speaks to our depth and complexities, our relationships, and the love and the bonds we hold with the person who died. Grief is good because it allows us to be enriched through our healing. I recommend that you
accept your grief in the same way you accept that the sun and moon rise and fall each day.

Communicating with my clients, or with anyone in grief, is not a complex act.

Good Grief: Part 2 Be Kind to Others

As a Notary Public with an active practice in Wills and Estates, I see clients who have recently lost their partners or are dealing with the death of a family member or friend.

Death is not the only reason for grief. It can be triggered by other life events such as the breakdown, loss, or change in a marriage or a family relationship, the loss of a job,
or the passing of a pet. When a person walks through my office door, I can usually tell by the individual’s demeanour or the documents we are doing that the client has had a loss, the trigger for a loss, or the person is experiencing some degree of grief. I take a moment to communicate with the person to recognize the loss.

Communicating with my clients, or with anyone in grief, is not a complex act. A stranger can communicate effectively with a person in grief without knowing the individual or the circumstance. The model put forth by the librarian was one of kindness and sincerity. She wasn’t afraid to face what many would find an uncomfortable situation; instead, she took the time to recognize and engage with a person in a world of hurt.

When dealing with a grieving person, I find that sincerity and simplicity of thought are the actions that matter most. I always stress that people should be kind to themselves and never apologize for the inescapable grief that we humans can experience.

If there is one single message to give, it is simply to be kind…

Here are some general guidelines for communicating that apply to almost any situation whether or not you know the person.

  • If you don’t know what to say, say just that.

“I am at a loss for words. I really don’t know how to express myself or what to say. I am so sorry for the death of… . ”

  • Just reach out. 

Don’t let your own fears—of not knowing what to say or intruding or seeing someone in heartbreak—hold you back. Whatever you do, your sincerity and caring is what matters. It will shine through.

  • Just listen.

Listening is the most important part of the communicating process. Don’t be afraid to listen to someone in tears or anger. You may find you share some laughter together
along the path. Throughout the conversation, confirm what you have heard, such as, “You must have been so shocked.”

  • Be patient.

Grief is a process of holistic healing. Often a grieving person needs to adapt to a whole new day-to-day personal culture and routine.

  • Don’t try to fix it. You cannot.

The grieving person knows it cannot get fixed.

  • Asking “How are you doing?” can be a burden for a grieving person to answer.

Questions are good but unless you truly want to know and you are a safe person for the grieving person to answer honestly, steer clear of that question.

  • If someone is having a bad day, do not take it personally.

Do not judge. Accept and respect the person’s expression of grief in the moment. His or her moods, feelings, and energy levels will fluctuate and change—you will not see them all.

  • Practise a random act of kindness and help with a task or chore.

If you offer to help, follow through. Don’t wait to be asked. The grieving person’s response to a generic, open-ended question such as, “let me know what I can do” may be
a challenge. Instead, tell the person you are available on Thursday, from 1 to 3 pm, and that you want to help with an errand, chore, or task. Gauge the response to your timing and his or her interest level.

  • Manage your own expectations about communicating.

When leaving a phone message, let the person know you don’t need a response. You are just thinking of him or her and you will call again. And then call again. In my Notary practice, I certify copies of death certificates as a courtesy. When arriving in my office, most people do not expect that gesture. I tell them I have been through some challenging deaths and it is my small way of giving back; their shock turns quickly to relief and gratitude.

Not only are grieving families propelled into a whirlwind of practical activity plus a lot of calls and communications for about a month, they find there are a lot of unexpected expenses. And they are exhausted. With the complementary service and taking the time to be aware, ask, and listen, being personally engaged and interested in my client is truly the simplest of communicating. Through sincerity and kindness by such small gestures, I am afforded the privilege of trust and heartfelt two-way communicating with my client.

If there is one single message to give, it is simply to be kind to others.

BC Notary Beverly Carter practises in Victoria.

Land Owner Transparency Registry (LOTR) – Affects Current & Purchasing Real Estate Owners

On November 30, 2020, The Land Owner Transparency Registry went live.  The Registry is an initiative of the current BC Government with intent of cracking down on hidden property ownership, fraud and money laundering in BC. Essentially, the Government wants to uncover the true nature of ownership for every single property in British Columbia.

The Registry aids in rooting out who really owns the land (property) – any person who has an indirect (unregistered) interest in land, whether through corporations, trusts, or partnerships must be disclosed.  If you think this does not apply to you …think again.  By law, at the end of November 2021, all registered Land Owners’ will be required to submit either a declaration or a declaration and a report in this new registry – LOTR.

For Notaries or lawyers dealing with purchasers of residential real estate it means that the process of acquiring a property has become more complex and time consuming.  A property where a declaration only is required is generally much simpler.  However, a property where the owners of the land are:

  1. not correctly identified as to the proportion of ownership, or
  2. where other people who are not showing as a registered owner have an interest, or
  3. where someone registered as an owner is not really an owner

there is a requirement to fill out a lengthy report.

The report to fill out is cumbersome and created by someone who works inside a box who has not truly considered the practical aspects of the stakeholders in the process.  Not only is the report 23 pages long, but it is also complex, as to the numbering systems and legal terms, so that the average person would not really understand what they are supposed to do and what information is required.

Many residential property owner scenarios are simple, but some have a story behind the scenes.  As a rule, if there is a story to explain how the property is owned, then it is more likely to be a more complex property ownership scenario.

To help simplify or understand how the LOTR might affect you, here are a variety of possible residential scenarios.

Purchasing – Common Simple Scenarios

  • A single person or a couple buy a home. No one else has an interest in the ownership.

***Likely only a declaration of this straightforward ownership will be completed. ***

Purchasing – Common Complex Scenarios

  • Son or daughter buys a home with parents helping to acquire mortgage. Parents listed on title as a 1% owner.  Son or daughter listed on title as a 99% owner.
  • Spouses listed on title as 99% and 1% interest holders in effort to take advantage of property transfer tax exemption.
  • One spouse buys the home. The other spouse is not listed as an owner of the property (reasons don’t matter but include not t qualifying for a mortgage, residency, bad credit rating, not working, nature of work).
  • A person buys a home with the help of a large gift. Is the gift really a gift?
  • A person buys a home with the help of a large money contribution from a family member.

***Likely a declaration and a report will be necessary to fill out.***

Existing– Common Simple Scenarios

  • A single person or a couple own a home or property. No one else has an interest in the ownership.

***Likely only a declaration of this straightforward ownership will be completed. ***

Existing – Common Complex Scenarios

  • Son or daughter owns a home with parents helping to acquire mortgage. Parents listed on title as a 1% owner.  Son or daughter listed on title as a 99% owner.
  • Spouses listed on title as 99% and 1% interest holders.
  • Spouses listed on title as joint owners, or as tenants in common (share percentage) but have a blended family.
  • One spouse registered as the owner. The other spouse is not listed as an owner of the property.
  • A person bought the real estate with the help of a large gift.
  • A person bought the land with the help of a large money contribution from a family member.

***Likely a declaration and a report will be necessary to complete.***

Existing – Family Transfers/Unique Ownership Arrangements

  • A parent dies or is divorced. The solo parent, in addition to themselves, adds only one child as a registered owner.
  • A parent dies or is divorced. The solo parent takes themselves off as a registered owner and adds all the children as registered owners. The parent continues to live in the property.
  • A property is transferred to one, some, or all the children.

***Likely a declaration and a report will be necessary to complete.***

The onus to provide accurate and transparent information in a declaration and report is placed squarely on the registered owner.  As part of the reporting process, the people who have an unregistered interest in the land or property must be notified in writing by the person(s) registered as owners.

The word ‘Transparency’ in the name of the legislation and the registry makes sense.  When filling out the declaration and report just be transparent.  Describe your situation as factually and clearly as possible, for that is what the British Columbia government has made as an absolute legal requirement for all BC land owners.

Once your declaration and/or report are filled out in the registry system, the information will be available for public search.  It is expected that the registry searches are available after April 30, 2021.  What information will be made available for the public is not yet disclosed by the Government to us.  However, it is evident that Government agencies (i.e. Canada Revenue Agency) and police or other criminal seeking organizations will be given deep access to the registry.

Time will determine what the outcomes of the registry hold and how the searches are used in the fight to combat crime or money laundering.  The scenarios provided in this article are certainly not an exhaustive list.   There is no discussion of ownership and corporations or partnerships for the simple fact that in this office we do not do any real estate where corporations or partnerships are concerned.  By providing some insight into the complexities of people’s arrangements around financial assets, financing, and real estate ownership where other people may have an interest.  Essentially the registered owner of land may not be the only owner, or the true owner.  If you have a complex scenario, it does not necessarily mean a report is required but the odds are much higher that the report will be mandatory to complete.

For our own learning, we would appreciate your feedback about the article or any experiences around the registry.  If you have a unique scenario and are not sure how the registry will apply to your situation, please email me with details to hello@carternotary.com

Beverly Carter Notary Public, Practices in the areas of Residential Real Estate, Buying and Selling Houses, Mortgage Refinancing, Private Real Estate Contracts, Land Title Registry applications, Transfers of Ownership to Survivors & Others

 

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