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

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

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

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