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The importance of estate planning for new Alberta parents

New parents are likely overwhelmed with having a new addition in the family, even with all the joy they feel. Alberta couples or single individuals who are parents for the first time may not even have estate planning on their radar, but they actually should for a number of reasons. No parent ever wants to think about being in a position of not being able to care for their baby, but planning for unforeseen events is crucial.

The first thing new parents should take care of -- besides making sure they have a will -- is choosing a guardian for their child should they not be able to care for him or her. If one parent dies, the other will assume care of the child, but if both parents should pass away, someone has to step in to take over caring for the child. Most often parents will choose a family member or close friend whose values and beliefs closely mirror their own, but if the guardianship should come into play, the person named guardian would still have to go to court to apply to become the child's legal guardian.

Real estate: Alberta home prices expected to jump in 2020

The year looks golden for those thinking of selling their homes in Wild Rose Country. A recent market survey regarding real estate in Alberta shows that home prices are expected to rise, especially in two major markets -- Calgary and Edmonton. Home prices in Cow Town are expected to increase by 1.5% in 2020 over last year, bringing the median price for a single family home to about $477,000.

Meanwhile, in Edmonton, home prices are expected to increase by 1% putting a single family home at a little more than $383,000. Analysts says most of those increases will not happen until the second quarter of 2020. That's good news for sellers, but buyers also have good news with continued low interest rates and positive migration. 

Climate change spurring litigation suits

Class action lawsuits regarding the climate are on the rise around the world. Whether they involve flash floods, wildfires or rising tides, climate change litigation cases are becoming more the norm and some of those are related to Alberta oil sands projects. In fact, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) has called for better reporting on material climate risks. 

When it comes to companies, Canadian regulators have put more focus on climate change and suggest Canadian issuers realize that litigation cases could ensue regarding enforcement. Investors are also urging companies to be upfront about how climate change might affect their businesses. Investors also want to know how companies are going to handle their carbon footprints in light of the decarbonization of the economy. 

Corporate news: WestJet to have added eastern presence after sale

One of the country's major airlines is spreading its wings. WestJet -- whose home base is in Calgary, Alberta -- has lit up the corporate world with news that it is intending to beef up its presence in the eastern part of the country. The announcement comes on the tails of the airline's sale to a private equity firm for $5 billion. WestJet plans to fly into Pearson International Airport more frequently.

The company -- whose CEO says it's proud of its Alberta roots -- will keep its corporate headquarters in Cow Town with no plans to introduce an offshoot of EastJet. He also says the sale has brought relief and satisfaction after the friendly takeover this past May. With its interests now in the hands of a private company, WestJet won't have to reveal quarterly results, nor will it have to reveal pertinent information to investors or to competitors which, the CEO adds, gives the company a leg up on the competition.

Recovering GDP a shining light on Alberta real estate market

Things are looking up for Calgary's home market. Alberta's Cow Town has had some good news recently regarding the real estate sector which is now poised to come out of a yearslong downturn. In fact, the market in the entire province is rallying due to overall increased economic growth and a more lively gross domestic product sector. 

Recent forecasts expect Calgary's GDP to grow by 2% next year and by 2.8% moving into 2021. Other good news is that more people have moved into the province compared to the same time last year -- 40% more. Edmonton and Calgary rank first and second, respectively, when it comes to real estate deals in the province. These numbers, experts suggest, are enticing investors to look again at Alberta -- particularly Calgary and the capital.

Most real estate prices in Calgary continue to fall

The prices of new, single family homes in Cow Town are still declining. Alberta real estate continues to take a hit, especially in Calgary where the number of new builds has dropped by about 16% from the same time last year. House prices for new homes in the city have decreased by just over 2% since July of last year and experts are putting the blame on oil prices that have been continuing to fall over the last five years.

One local realtor says 2019 has been the slowest year for real estate Calgary has seen for more than 20 years. Housing starts in Calgary were down due to too many new builds in the recent past -- many of which are still sitting vacant on the market. The chief economist of the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB) says there is also a glut of homes currently in the resale market which also affects the construction of new, single family homes. 

Premier makes summit trip touting Alberta's corporate environment

The premier of Wild Rose Country wants to let foreign entrepreneurs know the province is open for business. Premier Jason Kenney recently attended the Trilateral Commission's North America Summit in Mexico City to tell the corporate world Alberta is a place in which they should consider investing. There are incentives the province has put into place, the premier says, that create an affable business environment such as job creation tax cuts.

Alberta also has plans to slice the corporate tax rate from 12 to 8% by 2022-23. creating a more business-friendly climate. Mexico is Alberta's third largest trading partner. Kenney pointed out how Alberta can contribute to energy security and global prosperity. He also targeted Alberta companies who have jumped ship and are doing business out of province to try to entice them back home.

Province looking for new real estate regulator amid audit report

The province is looking for a new real estate regulator. In fact, the Alberta government is primed to fire all board members who regulate the real estate industry provincially, citing dysfunction and infighting. The province is disbanding the board and appointing an interim administrator until a new board is formed. The minister responsible for Service Alberta said the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) is rife with problems that have gone on for too long without possible solutions.

RECA was on the receiving end of an independent audit commissioned by the provincial government earlier in the year. Findings showed that the board had too great a focus on internal and administrative matters. The audit also concluded that the board hasn't been holding regular meetings and that little thought has been given to spending.

Company offers tools to help Calgarians to buy, sell real estate

Homebuyers and sellers in the Calgary area will now have the opportunity of getting the best price on their purchases. A Calgary-based company has come out with a product to help those searching for their next real estate deal to easily access data that may help them to get a fair price for their next homes. Information includes the last sale price of all Calgary residential properties. 

The company's founder says its mission is to help Calgarians to make the best decisions when it comes to keeping, selling or buying a home. Its aim, he adds, is to give those in the market free and instant real estate transparency by offering real estate analytics and market predictions to assist them in buying and selling property. Some of the information buyers and sellers are able to access includes estimates of daily prices, data regarding permits and transactions, growth rates in neighbourhoods and assessed price history.

Estate planning to prevent elder abuse situations

There are various tools which can be used to thwart potential elder abuse. During estate planning, Alberta residents can make decisions regarding their futures as they age while they still have the mental capacity to do so. Some wise things to do while a person is still mentally capable could include setting up joint bank accounts, trusts, paving the way for supported decision-making and co-decision-making. Doing these things could prevent potentially abusive situations for seniors.

Supported decision-making may be the right thing for those who have trouble hearing, communicating in English or French, or who otherwise just need a bit of help for a while. Co-decision-making is more geared for adults who have trouble making decisions on their own, but are likely to be able to do so with the help of another person. These people usually don't have a guardian or a personal directive.


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Calgary, AB T2E 2V9

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