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

Matrimonial Homes and Resulting Trusts

by: , June 30, 2020

When a parent transfers property to a capable adult child without getting anything in return, the law does not assume this is a gift. Instead there is a (rebuttable) presumption that the child holds this property in trust for the parent (called a resulting trust). But what happens when that property is a matrimonial home…read more

My Sister Died Without a Will – What Happens Now?

by: , June 15, 2020

A will allows an individual to decide in advance who will administer her estate and who will receive her assets when she dies. Testamentary freedom is guaranteed to all Canadians, meaning we are free to choose who will benefit from our estates: family members, friends, pets, charities, or our favourite sports team. (Note that most…read more

Paying Funds Into and Out of Court

by: , May 3, 2020

During the course of litigation, you may run into a situation where money is “paid into court.” Paying money into court is a way of protecting funds while the litigation is ongoing or until a minor reaches the age of majority. For example, where there is a dispute about who is entitled to insurance proceeds,…read more

The Costs of Litigation and the Loser Pays Principle

by: , April 14, 2020

When new clients embarks on litigation (to challenge a will or to remove an executor, for example), one of the first questions I am asked is whether they can recover their legal fees or costs from the estate or trust (as we all know, litigation can be expensive). The expectation is that the estate or…read more

The Revival of Unconscionable Procurement

by: , April 8, 2020

The administrations of some estates simply do not move forward smoothly. The Elias Gefen estate is one such estate. In Gefen v. Gaertner, 2019 ONSC 6015, Justice Kimmel addressed multiple issues which had stopped the administration from moving forward, ranging from mutual wills to secret trust agreements. Justice Kimmel also applied, for the first time…read more

Clash of the Limitation Periods

by: , February 21, 2020

The Limitations Act, 2002, SO 2002, c 24, Sch B, brought order and clarity to limitation periods in Ontario. However, the Limitations Act did not displace all existing limitation periods established by statute. Several carve-outs which are particularly relevant to estates litigators includes the Real Property Limitations Act, RSO 1990, c L.15 and s. 38(3)…read more

Minimum Evidentiary Threshold for Will Challenges

by: , November 19, 2019

What is the minimum level of evidence to be met before a court allows a will challenge to proceed? The recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision in Naismith v. Clarke, 2019 ONSC 5280 (“Naismith”) sets out a useful overview for the circumstances under which a court may allow a will challenge to move forward….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

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