Testamentary Freedom – A Fundamental Right?

by: , June 17, 2019

Whether testamentary autonomy is a constitutionally protected right has not been considered by the courts … until now. The rules of testamentary succession (i.e. wills and estates) are governed by provincial law. While each province and territory has its own set of statutes, most have imposed some requirements that the deceased make “adequate provision” for…read more

Sealing One’s Fate: The Sherman Murders, Probate and Perseverance

by: , May 15, 2019

The Sherman murders remain famously unresolved and still generate headlines and notoriety. But, for better or worse, life moves on and Barry’s and Honey’s respective estates (collectively the “Sherman Estates”), however mundane, need to be probated and administered. In that regard, the Court of Appeal for Ontario (“OCA”) recently released a decision on an appeal…read more

Supreme Court Blesses Henson Trusts

by: , February 13, 2019

The Supreme Court of Canada has given its blessing to Henson Trusts (fully discretionary trusts set up to not impact the beneficiary’s social assistance benefits) in S.A. v. Metro Vancouver Housing Corp., 2019 SCC 4. I previously blogged about this case when it was before the Court of Appeal. The Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation (the…read more

To Remove or Not to Remove … That is the Question

by: , February 6, 2019

Estates tell a million stories and the case of Ford v Mazman, 2019 ONSC 542, is just one of them. Mary died on April 3, 2017. Mary’s 2004 Will named her two nieces, Laura and Carleen, as sole beneficiaries. Mary appointed her close friend, Seta, as her estate trustee/executor. Laura had travelled to Ontario from…read more

Milne Estate (Re)visited

by: and , November 20, 2018

The decision of Milne Estate (Re) (“Milne”) caused a stir among the members of the estates bar and solicitors who draft wills, going so far as to illicit an alert from LawPRO. While the Milne decision (which is under appeal) has garnered a great deal of attention and commentary from lawyers (including Justin de Vries’…read more

Not So Fast – Who Controls the Body?

by: , November 7, 2018

“He knows where the bodies are buried” is a throwaway line from Orson Wells’ cinematic masterpiece, Citizen Kane. That line soon took on a life of its own and entered the cultural vernacular. In the world of estates, a more frequent problem is not finding the bodies but deciding where to bury the bodies. In…read more

It’s All About The Benjamin Orders

by: , September 4, 2018

Did William die? If so, when? These were the central issues addressed in Steele v. Smith, 2018 ONSC 4601. There, the Court had to consider whether the estate trustee of William’s sister’s estate should receive a “Benjamin Order”, permitting the estate trustee to distribute the residue of her estate as if William had predeceased her. The…read more

40oz. to Testamentary Freedom

by: , July 13, 2018

Is the fact that one is a chronic alcoholic enough to deprive them of their testamentary freedom? In Dujardin v. Dujardin, 2018 ONCA 597, the Court of Appeal for Ontario explored this issue when it was tasked with determining the validity of two wills that were executed by a known drunkard. Background Jacques Henry Dujardin…read more

So I Dub Thee Unforgiven

by: , June 26, 2018

Dueling banjos might get more attention ‘round most parts, but dueling promissory notes can be just as exciting. Take the promissory notes that were at issue in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice case Lacasse v. Middleton, 2018 ONSC 3461 (CanLII). In that case, the Court was called upon to determine a winner between two…read more

The Act of Factum Writing

by: and , May 11, 2018

The importance of a factum in litigation cannot be overstated. A factum is a party’s written submissions to the court. The factum summarize the facts of the case, the issues in dispute, and the law being relied upon (with the addition of “overview” and “relief sought” sections at the beginning and end of the factum,…read more