The Rights of a Surviving Spouse – Spousal Election

by: , July 6, 2020

I just finished watching Mrs. America, the recent TV series that chronicles the fight by women in the 1970s to enshrine the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the US Constitution. First proposed in 1921, the ERA sought to mandate equality between men and woman. In 1972, Congress passed the ERA, but they could not obtain…read more

Am I a Dependant? Can I Receive Support From the Estate?

by: , April 20, 2020

Generally speaking, everyone is free to decide who will inherit their property after their death. This is called testamentary freedom. However, this right is not absolute; the law in Ontario (and elsewhere in Canada) imposes limits on testamentary freedom in certain circumstances, and in particular, where the will of the deceased excludes or fails to…read more

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

Divisional Court Guidance on “Proper Support”

by: , February 26, 2015

Bonnie and Danny had a 12 year common law relationship. In a modern twist on the typical fact scenario, Bonnie was the older, successful business woman and Danny was the younger man who left his job at Bonnie’s car dealership to look after things at home. At trial, Justice Greer found that they were very…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

Adding Parties And Dependant’s Support

by: , September 17, 2014

Can individuals who may have an obligation to support a person making a dependant’s support claim against an estate be added as parties to the support claim? That was the question before the court in Brash v. Zyma. The short answer? Yes. In 2012, Charles Douglas Brash died. At the time of his death, he had…read more