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

Mediation vs. Arbitration – What’s the Difference?

by: , May 25, 2020

I am often asked what is the difference between mediation and arbitration. That question is usually followed by another: is one better than the other? In this blog, I will examine the differences between mediation and arbitration and outline some of the advantages of each. Mediation Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. It…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

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

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

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

The Claim Not Taken.

by: , February 5, 2018

The Ontario Court of Appeal’s reasoning in Bennett v. Bennett Estate[1] is illustrative of the fact that if one is faced with two means of advancing a claim (whether they diverge in a yellow wood or not is not important here), one must be careful when deciding which claim to make. Moreover, the claim must…read more