Virtual Witnessing of Wills in Alberta Not so Clear

In Alberta, as in most other provinces, generally wills, powers of attorney and personal directives need to be signed and witnessed in person for the documents to be legally valid.  Our wills legislation allows certain departures from those strict formalities, though anything less than full compliance with the signing requirements lacks certainty and will need […] Read More

A Question of Priorities (If You Want to Administer an Estate)

Appointing a personal representative is one of the first substantive things addressed in a Will and one of the key choices a person can make with respect to their estate plan. When a person dies without a will, someone must apply to the Court to obtain legal authority to administer the deceased’s Estate. In Alberta, […] Read More

How Memory Issues and Delusional Beliefs Invalidated a Will

When you pass away, your Will can be challenged and declared invalid on the basis that, at the time you made it, you lacked mental capacity. Whether a Testator had the necessary capacity at the time he made his Will is not a simple question. A Testator may live independently, drive a vehicle, and nevertheless […] Read More

Act On Your Legal Obligations to Avoid Post-Death Disputes

A recent case from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Birnie v Birnie, 2019 ONSC 2152, has several important lessons for Canadians when it comes to estate planning.  The case is an important reminder to be aware of your existing legal obligations when making your estate plans.  It is also a good reminder to revisit […] Read More

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

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