You may have to keep your promises

Some people are good for their word.  Others are not.  Depending on the circumstances, a promise you make may not be legally enforceable.  However, in the words of the outgoing Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada in the recent judgment in Cowper-Smith v Morgan, 2017 SCC 61, equity enforces promises that the law […] Read More

An unconscionable bargain

Generally speaking, the law will not protect you from making a bad bargain.  However, when a transaction is so grossly unfair to one party and was obtained through an unfair advantage by the other party, the legal doctrine of unconscionability may be used to set it aside.  In my practice, most often the issue comes […] Read More

North of 60 Series: Estate administration in the Northwest Territories

I have been on quite the hiatus since last year!  I apologize – I have found that a wills and estates practice inevitably ramps up in the last month of the year on both the planning and litigation sides and last December was no exception. In the middle of all of the usual pre-holiday madness, […] Read More

A different kind of joint problem

Parents who intend to transfer their assets into joint names with some or all of their adult children need to carefully consider that decision before implementing the transfers.  A series of recent Court cases in Western Canada highlight the need for careful legal advice when parents are considering such transfers in the context of estate […] Read More

The devil is in the drafting: is an estate entitled to spousal support payments?

The recent Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench decision in Marasse Estate (Re), 2017 ABQB 706 is yet another reminder that drafting legal documents must be done carefully and with a view to their long-term effect. The main issue in this case was whether the surviving ex-spouse was obligated to continue paying spousal support to his […] Read More

It’s your funeral, but who calls the shots?

If you have a will, you may have spelled out your detailed wishes for your funeral in the document.  Would you be surprised to know that your personal representative does not have to follow them?  You may have also heard that funeral expenses get paid out from an estate in priority to all other expenses.  […] Read More

My last will and textament

What would you look for in a document to determine if it was a legally valid will?  An Australian man’s estate recently made headlines when the Queensland Supreme Court admitted an unsent text message into probate as his valid last will. The deceased created the following text message on his cell phone shortly before he […] Read More

(Don’t) live together, love together

A frequent area of estate litigation involves claims by adult interdependent partners against the estates of their deceased partners.  An adult interdependent partner is roughly the Alberta equivalent of a common law spouse, but may include other types of relationships. To qualify as an adult interdependent partner, two people must cohabit in a relationship of […] Read More

You can ask for advice and directions

Acting as an executor or personal representative is a challenging job.  A personal representative is expected to follow the terms of a will, trust document or Court order and to do so prudently and competently.  Sometimes, the testator or the settlor of a trust adds to an already difficult job by creating an unclear will […] Read More

Define your children in your will

Clarity matters when preparing your will and estate plan in Alberta.  Even a seemingly simple direction to divide your estate equally between your children may run into unexpected problems if you have a complex family structure and are not clear enough about your wishes in your Will.  In recent Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench decision, […] Read More