Alcoholism Alone Not Enough to Negate Testamentary Capacity

by: , November 17, 2014

In daBalinhard, the Saskatchewan Court found that a history of alcoholism, short term memory loss and unusual behavior was not enough to sustain a will challenge. After a forty-year marriage, the testator, John, and his wife, Shirley, separated on August 16, 2011.  Two months after their separation, John executed a new will on October 20,…read more

California Dreaming – The Right to Visit an Elderly Parent

by: , November 7, 2014

I recently came across this news article while reading about the litigation surrounding the final days of Casey Kasem.  The article detailed the recent enactment of new sections to California’s probate code which will come into effect January 1, 2016.  The changes will require “conservators” (a position comparable to Ontario’s court-appointed guardian of the person…read more

Being Removed or Renouncing as Estate Trustee?

by: and , November 4, 2014

Although they sound similar, there are important procedural differences between “removing” an estate trustee and “renouncing” the right to act as an estate trustee. Where the named estate trustee has not yet begun acting in her role as estate trustee (i.e. she has not yet undertaken any work administering the estate), she may “resign” or…read more

Beneficiaries Left Paying for Estate Trustee’s Mortgage

by: and , October 24, 2014

Can an estate trustee’s ability to mortgage an estate property be limited by s. 9 of the Estates Administration Act? This was the question recently addressed by the court in Di Michele v. Di Michele. Section 9 of the Estates Administration Act allows for real property to automatically vest in the beneficiaries of an estate…read more

Limitation Period in Will Challenges

by: , October 10, 2014

Limitation periods generally aim to strike the appropriate balance between an aggrieved party’s right to seek redress and a potential defendant’s right not to remain under the cloud of litigation indefinitely. Limitation periods also address the concern that it would be unfair for a person to defend him or herself against allegations when the passage…read more

Orders for Directions in Estate Litigation

by: , October 7, 2014

Orders for directions can be sought at any time where appropriate in the context of estate litigation. However, parties typically seek such an order at the outset of the litigation. Moreover, it usually becomes apparent to the parties early on that many will or POA challenges, which are commenced by way of notice of application,…read more

Dependant’s Relief and Competing Claims

by: , October 3, 2014

In the recent case of Cowderoy v. Sorkos Estate, 2014 ONCA 618, the Ontario Court of Appeal considered the question of how competing claims against an estate are to be appropriately balanced. Gus Sorkos and Victoria Cowderoy were in a common-law relationship until Victoria’s death in 2001.  During that time, Gus became close with Victoria’s…read more

Calculating Dependant’s Support – A View from the Divisional Court

by: , October 3, 2014

The background in Quinn vs Carrigan is well known to estate and family law litigators as the parties have been involved in extensive litigation, including two trials and two appeals.  The first trial and its subsequent appeal, which focused on the issue of who is a “spouse” pursuant to the Pension Benefits Act, led to…read more

Court Allows Delay in Will Challenge

by: , September 29, 2014

When someone tries to challenge a will in court, undue delays on the challenger’s part can be fatal to their claim. The Rules of Civil Procedure, Ontario’s legal procedure guidelines, say that a civil claim can be dismissed for delay if, after the initial pleadings stage, the action isn’t set down for trial within six…read more

Ethics and Lawyers: Changes to Ontario Rules of Professional Conduct

by: , September 25, 2014

Starting October 1, 2014, the Ontario Rules of Professional Conduct (ROPC) are being updated with a number of new rules, the first big change since 2000.  While many of the changes will likely be of interest to practitioners, there are a number of new rules that are intended to more clearly set out the relationship between…read more