When is a Handwritten Will Valid?

by: , December 17, 2015

Linda was cleaning up her deceased sister-in-law Cynthia’s new apartment when she discovered a document inside a Sobeys bag. It was in the deceased’s handwriting and discussed distributing her property upon her death. It named Linda as executrix. As Linda continued to clean Cynthia’s residence she found another such handwritten document (this time, tucked away on…read more

Toronto Lawyers Feed the Hungry

by: , December 1, 2015

This past month, de Vries Litigation lawyers and staff had the opportunity to volunteer for an evening at Toronto Lawyers Feed the Hungry. The organization provides four meals a week to guests. Dinners are served on Wednesdays and Fridays, and breakfasts on Thursday and Sunday. Started in 1998, the program takes place in Osgoode Hall’s…read more

Aging Population Brings Greater Risk to Guardianship System

by: , November 27, 2015

An article last month in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Abuse Plagues System of Legal Guardians for Adults” noted a variety of complaints across the United States about guardians of property and personal care. In one nightmarish story, 71-year old Linda McDowell’s former housemate and companion helped file a court petition, unbeknownst to Ms. McDowell, seeking…read more

A Judge’s Three Tips to Improve Scheduling Appointments

by: , November 26, 2015

I had the privilege of hearing the Honourable Justice Thomas McEwen of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice speak at The Advocates’ Society’s Estates Litigation Networking Reception on November 23, 2015. Justice McEwen sits in Toronto and is currently the Civil Team Leader. Justice McEwen noted that the system of 9:30 a.m. scheduling appointments on the…read more

New Small Estate Probate Procedure Proposed for Estates Below $50,000

by: , November 20, 2015

The Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) has released its final report on a proposal for a new simplified probate procedure for small estates. The LCO’s report, which includes 15 different recommendations, envisions the creation of a process for estates valued at up to $50,000. In effect, the new system would be a simpler probate system that…read more

Ontario Court of Appeal Endorses Tougher Approach for Vexatious Litigants

by: , November 11, 2015

Ontario officially added Rule 2.1 to its Rules of Civil Procedure on July 1, 2014. The rule gives the courts a general power to stay or dismiss proceedings if they are “frivolous or vexatious or otherwise an abuse of the process of the court.” The court may do so on its own initiative, although any…read more

Supreme Court Dismisses Expert Witness Appeal

by: , November 9, 2015

As I previously blogged, the Court of Appeal for Ontario held in Westerhof v. Gee Estate, 2015 ONCA 206 that witnesses with special expertise who give opinion evidence not formed for the purposes of litigation do not have to comply with the strict procedural requirements for expert witnesses. The losing party sought leave to appeal…read more

Actions to be Dismissed for Delay on January 1, 2017

by: , August 17, 2015

A doomsday cult believes the world will end on January 1, 2017 (at least according to the British press). If the earth somehow survives, we will need to face the consequences of another event occurring on that date: the dismissal for delay of numerous actions without notice. Rule 48.14 of the Rules of Civil Procedure…read more

“On Title” Versus “Entitled”: The Doctrine of Resulting Trust

by: , June 3, 2015

A common estate planning technique to avoid probate tax is for a parent to transfer his or her house into joint tenancy with one of his or her children. That way, when the parent dies, the property passes by way of survivorship from the parent to the child without the need to go through probate…read more

Nova Scotia repeals “habitual drunkard” law

by: , May 29, 2015

Until earlier this month, Nova Scotia had a statute on the books called the Inebriates’ Guardianship Act, R.S.N.S. 1989, c. 227 which allowed for the court to appoint a guardian over a “habitual drunkard”. While Nova Scotia has other statutes which allow the Court to appoint a guardian for a person found to be incapable,…read more