Probate for Paddington: Michael Bond, CBE (1926-2017)

One year ago, Michael Bond, CBE the creator of the beloved literary character, Paddington Bear, passed away in London, England at age 91. Though I recall seeing snippets of Paddington Bear on the television when I was young, I never actively watched the animated series or read the books. Based on what I’ve learned about […] Read More

Pay Attention to What You Pay For

It is fairly rare for judges to directly criticize lawyers in written decisions relating to estate matters, at least in my experience. When I do run across it, it sends a strong signal because there is usually an important lesson in the criticism. The judge’s displeasure with the lawyer who drafted the will at the […] Read More

A Star Extinguished: Anton Yelchin (1989-2016)

Two years ago to this day, a promising young actor’s life was cut short by a tragic accident at his Los Angeles home. Anton Yelchin, age 27, was killed in his driveway when his SUV rolled back and pinned him against his security fence and mailbox. Yelchin rose to prominence for his portrayal of the […] Read More

Is Spousal Support Available After Death?

Perhaps encouraged by the recent decision in Marasse Estate, we have another recent case from the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench addressing an estate’s ability to claim spousal support and its liability to pay spousal support. Stalzer v Stalzer, 2018 ABQB 191 is reassurance to estate planning and family law practitioners that a person’s obligation to […] Read More

Rolling the Dice on Costs of Estate Litigation

Alberta Courts have been busy on the topic of costs in estate litigation in the past few months. Four recent decisions issued out of three judicial centres in Alberta provide a good reminder of just how unpredictable litigation is and the Court’s wide discretion in compensating parties for their litigation expenses. General principles If there […] Read More

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Administration

Illustration by Mark Raven Jackson Today marks the 21st anniversary of the death of Christopher Wallace, or probably better known to you as legendary rap artist Notorious BIG or Biggie. Wallace died at the age of 24 after being shot in Los Angeles. The controversy surrounding his death continues to garner media attention to this […] Read More

Double Duty: Executors’ Tax Filing Obligations

If you dread doing your own taxes, then think twice about becoming an executor of an estate. One of the core duties of a personal representative is to deal with the deceased’s taxes. In Alberta, the duty is contained right in the Surrogate Rules, which state that: Determining the income tax or other tax liability […] Read More

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

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