Author: Umair

04 Nov

Where the Books Are (and Where They’ll Go)

Umair Estate & Trust, Estate Planning, Executors and Trustees, General Interest, In the News, Litigation, Trustees Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

There are new developments regarding the Estate of Maurice Sendak, the famous American author and illustrator who passed away in 2012 and is best known for authoring Where the Wild Things Are. As reported by the New York Times, Mr. Sendak’s Estate was mostly successful in an ongoing legal dispute with the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia.

Maurice Sendak's Books
“…under his Will, Mr. Sendak left his collection to the foundation created in his name prior to his death, and directed the creation of “a museum or similar facility” in his hometown of Ridgefield, Connecticut.”

First, a bit of background: prior to his death, the Rosenbach Museum housed a large archive of Mr. Sendak’s work, including many original illustrations and portions of his book collection. However, these items were not gifted to the Rosenbach Museum. Instead, under his Will, Mr. Sendak left his collection to the foundation created in his name prior to his death, and directed the creation of “a museum or similar facility” in his hometown of Ridgefield, Connecticut. However, Mr. Sendak did leave his “rare edition books” to the museum under his Will.

In 2014, the executors of Mr. Sendak’s Estate withdrew Mr. Sendak’s collection at the Rosenbach Museum. The museum subsequently commenced a legal proceeding in Connecticut probate court, arguing that the Estate had kept two books by William Blake and a selection of rare books by Beatrix Potter. According to the museum, these books fell into the category of “rare edition books” gifted to the museum under Mr. Sendak’s Will.

According to the article in the New York Times, the Connecticut court held that the William Blake books did not fit the definition of “rare edition books,” but that the Beatrix Potter books belonged to the museum. In the result, the Estate and Mr. Sendak’s foundation were awarded 252 of the 340 items that were in dispute between the parties.

I recently blogged about the famous Mexican architect Luis Barragan, and the broader public debates that often emerge about how best to preserve an artist’s legacy after his or her death. A similar debate has served as the backdrop to the legal wrangling between the museum and the Estate.

In a 2014 article, the New York Times profiled Mr. Sendak’s long-time housekeeper and caretaker Lynn Caponera, who was now acting one of his executors and the president of his foundation. The article highlighted some of the questions and criticisms that had been directed at the executors’ decision to withdraw Mr. Sendak’s collection from the museum, with some questioning the appropriateness of Mr. Sendak’s property in Ridgefield as a site for a museum and the skill and ability of Ms. Caponera to manage and administer Mr. Sendak’s foundation.

Thank you for reading and have a great weekend,

Umair Abdul Qadir

03 Nov

The High Bar for Estate Trustee Removal

Umair Estate & Trust, Executors and Trustees, Litigation, Wills Tags: , , , 0 Comments

Section 37 of the Trustee Act provides the Ontario Superior Court of Justice with the power to remove and replace an Estate Trustee “upon any ground upon which the court may remove any other trustee.”

However, as we have previously blogged, the Court is generally not inclined to interfere with a testator’s wishes. In Chambers Estate v Chambers, 2013 ONCA 511, Justice Gillese confirmed that the removal of an Estate Trustee should only be granted on the clearest of evidence, with the welfare of the beneficiaries as the fundamental guide for the Court’s exercise of its discretion.

The Honourable Justice Fairburn’s recent decision in Ricci v Ricci Estate, 2016 ONSC 6614, reaffirms the high threshold that must be met before the Court will take the extraordinary step of removing an Estate Trustee.

In Ricci, the Deceased died leaving her husband (“Livio”) as the Estate Trustee of her Estate. The Deceased’s Will provided Livio with a life interest in her property, with their children as the residuary beneficiaries upon Livio’s death.

However, in 2015, Livio took personal possession of the home and obtained a new mortgage without notifying the residuary beneficiaries. Michael, one of the sons and the alternate Estate Trustee under the Deceased’s Will, brought an Application for Livio’s removal as Estate Trustee.

On the Application, Michael asserted that the transfer of title and the new mortgage resulted in a breach of Livio’s duties and obligations as Estate Trustee. Michael argued that Livio’s actions had put him in an untenable conflict of interest.

Courts reluctant to remove Estate Trustee without clear evidence, even in cases of possible breach of duties.
“Section 37 of the Trustee Act provides the Ontario Superior Court of Justice with the power to remove and replace an Estate Trustee “upon any ground upon which the court may remove any other trustee.””

Given that the property was in Livio’s name, Michael also cited a letter from Livio’s lawyer that suggested that Livio would consider disinheriting Michael to demonstrate that his interest in the Deceased’s Estate was at risk.

Conversely, Livio argued that he had only acted to increase the value of the Estate by entering into a more favourable mortgage. It was Livio’s evidence that he had transferred title to the property into his name so that the mortgage on the property could be renegotiated on more favourable terms, allowing him to start paying down some of the principal amount of the mortgage. Livio also executed a declaration of trust after receiving enquiries from Michael’s counsel, confirming that he was holding the property in trust for his children in accordance with the Deceased’s Will.

Ultimately, Justice Fairburn held that while Livio should not have transferred the property into his personal name or remortgaged the property without notice to the beneficiaries, his actions were not “fatal” to his position as the Deceased’s Estate Trustee. Placing Livio’s actions in context, the Court found that the beneficiaries had benefited from the remortgaging of the property. The Court also held that the declaration of trust showed that Livio intended to abide by the Deceased’s testamentary intentions.

In the result, Michael’s Application was dismissed. Instead of ordering Livio’s removal, the Court ordered that the declaration of trust be amended and registered on title to the property.

Justice Fairburn’s decision once again reiterates the high bar for the removal and replacement of an Estate Trustee. The Court may be reluctant to exercise its discretion in the absence of clear evidence, even if there may have been a technical breach of the Estate Trustee’s duties.

Thank you for reading,

Umair Abdul Qadir

01 Nov

Fraudulent Concealment and Statutory Limitation Periods

Umair Estate & Trust, Executors and Trustees, General Interest, Litigation Tags: , , , 0 Comments

Section 38 of the Ontario Trustee Act sets out a two-year limitation period from the date of death for actions by or against executors and administrators. However, as illustrated by a recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the equitable doctrine of fraudulent concealment can operate to toll this statutory limitation period.

Fraudulent concealment can affect estate limitation periods
“The equitable doctrine of fraudulent concealment can operate to toll this statutory limitation period”

In Roulston v McKenny, 2016 ONSC 2377, the Estate Trustee of the Deceased’s Estate brought an Application for the directions of the Court as to whether an action against the Estate was statute-barred. The Deceased died on March 20, 2013, and the claim against the Estate was not commenced until September 18, 2015.

The Deceased and his former wife (the “Respondent”) had entered into a separation agreement that required the Deceased to maintain $150,000.00 in life insurance, with the Respondent as the designated beneficiary.

Shortly after the Deceased’s death in March 2013, the Estate Trustee discovered that the Deceased’s life insurance policies had lapsed due to non-payment. However, the Court found that the Estate Trustee initially suggested that the insurance had not lapsed, and then delayed bringing an application for the advice and direction of the Court on the issue until more than two years after the Deceased’s death. The Estate Trustee’s counsel did not advise the Respondent’s counsel of the lapse until September 2013.

In September 2015, less than two years after the Respondent was first advised that the insurance policies may have lapsed, the Respondent sued the Estate to recover the $150,000.00 debt under the separation agreement.

The Respondent argued that the doctrine of fraudulent concealment should apply to toll the limitation period. As set out in the Court of Appeal’s decision in Giroux Estate v Trillium Health Centre, the doctrine of fraudulent concealment operates to forbid a party in a special relationship with a party from using a limitation period for a fraudulent purpose.

In Giroux Estate, the Court of Appeal set out the three criteria to be met for the doctrine to be applied:

  • the parties must be engaged in a relationship of a special nature;
  • due to the special nature of the relationship, the defendant’s conduct is unconscionable; and
  • the defendant conceals the plaintiff’s right of action.

In the present case, given that the insurer would only release information about the Deceased’s insurance policies to the Estate Trustee and the Estate Trustee had “exclusive possession” of the information, the Court concluded that the parties were in a special relationship. The Court also concluded that the Estate Trustee’s conduct was unconscionable, given the special relationship between the parties.

Finally, the Court held that the Estate Trustee’s failure to advise the Respondent of the lapse of the policies had the effect of concealing that the Respondent had a claim against the Estate.

In the result, the Court found that the doctrine of fraudulent concealment applied to toll the limitation period until September 2013, and the Respondent’s claim was thus not statute-barred.

Thank you for reading,

Umair Abdul Qadir

09 Sep

The Tale of the Architect and the Engagement Ring

Umair Estate & Trust, Estate Planning, Ethical Issues, Executors and Trustees, In the News, News & Events, Public Policy Tags: , , 0 Comments

In yesterday’s blog post, I wrote about the importance of carefully considering a testator’s intellectual property when preparing a Will. For readers who are interested in this topic, I would highly recommend a recent article in the New Yorker by Alice Gregory, entitled “The Architect Who Became a Diamond.”

The article tells the story of Luis Barragán, a famous Mexican architect who passed away in 1988. In his Will, Mr. Barragán divided his archive of architectural work between two individuals. According to the article, his business partner, Raul Ferrera, was bequeathed “all author rights and documents, movies, drawings, designs, sketches, mockups, and originals of work.”

photo-1470322450444-8ccc64987ccfAfter Mr. Ferrera committed suicide in 1993, his widow became the owner of Mr. Barragán’s vast archive. The archive was eventually sold for three million dollars to an architectural historian named Federica Zanco and her spouse. As the story goes, the archive was purchased for Ms. Zanco as an engagement gift by her fiancé, in lieu of the more traditional engagement ring.

Ms. Zanco went on to found the Barragan Foundation, and the Foundation also purchased the photographs taken by Mr. Barragán’s official photographer. At first, many thought that Mr. Barragán’s archive would be well-served under the ownership of a scholar like Ms. Zanco.

However, as the article notes, “[r]esearchers have been denied access, and even the use of images of Barragán’s buildings is carefully controlled. Among those who study twentieth-century architecture, the inaccessibility of Barragán’s archive and the bizarre conditions of its custodianship have become almost as much of a preoccupation as his buildings.”

Four years ago, the story of Mr. Barragán’s archive caught the attention of a conceptual artist named Jill Magid. In 2014, Ms. Magid invited Mr. Barragán’s to a lavish dinner and sought their permission to exhume his ashes. With their permission, Mr. Barragán’s cremated ashes were compressed into a diamond, which was then set in an engagement ring.

In seeking the permission of Mr. Barragán’s family, “Magid explained that her intention was to use the engagement ring with Barragán’s compressed remains to ‘propose’ to Zanco, in the hope that she would, in exchange, agree to open the archive, perhaps even to return it to Mexico.”

Although we have written many blog posts over the disputes that often emerge over the archives of celebrated artists and other creatives, the tale of Mr. Barragán’s archive and the engagement ring made from his remains may be one of the most fascinating stories yet.

The article also taps into a broader debate about the public interest in such archives, and the competing views regarding what should be done with an archive to best preserve the artist’s legacy. The article ends with an interview with Ms. Zanco, who explains that she has carefully controlled access to Mr. Barragán’s work through the foundation in order to prevent his legacy from being cheapened.

Thank you for reading and have a great weekend.

Umair Abdul Qadir

 

08 Sep

Intellectual Property in the Estates Context

Umair Estate & Trust, Estate Planning, General Interest, In the News, Wills Tags: , , , 0 Comments

The creative works of deceased writers, musicians and other artists can continue to generate revenue for many years after their death. We have previously blogged about the protracted fights that can emerge over the revenue generated by these works. However, the intellectual property rights of a testator can often be overlooked during the estate planning process.

It is essential for drafting solicitors to be able to knowledgably advise their clients about intellectual property issues. It may also be prudent to obtain the advice of a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property law to ensure that the Will adequately addresses any possible rights the Estate may have after the testator’s death.

tumblr_o3z5l87aho1slhhf0o1_1280For example, the Will should clearly set out how royalties earned on a testator’s copyrighted work will be administered and distributed. With respect to copyrighted work in Canada, section 6 of the Copyright Act provides that copyright subsists for the lifetime of the author, the remainder of the calendar year in which the author dies, and an additional term of fifty years following the end of that calendar year. Thus, a testator’s copyrighted works can continue to generate significant revenue for many years after the testator’s death.

However, beyond ensuring that the profits earned are distributed in accordance with the testator’s wishes, a well-drafted Will can also help ensure that the testator’s artistic legacy is preserved. Given the rights and control conferred upon a beneficiary of intellectual property assets, the heirs of such works can help the testator’s work flourish and find new audiences well beyond their lifetime.

A great recent example of this is the story of Lucia Berlin, whose recent short story collection, A Manual for Cleaning Women, has topped bestseller lists and received the honour of being named one of the top ten books 2015 by the New York Times Book Review.

But, as set out in this touching memoir by one of her former students and friends, Ms. Berlin retired in 2000 and moved to a trailer park in Boulder, Colorado. She subsequently moved into a converted garage in Los Angeles in order to be closer to her son. Ms. Berlin passed away in 2004, on her 68th birthday.

More than eleven years after her death, Ms. Berlin is being heralded as a lost genius and “the greatest American writer you’ve never heard of.” Keen-eyed readers will note that many of the photographs that accompany articles about Ms. Berlin’s work are published courtesy of the “Literary Estate of Lucia Berlin LP.”

Thank you for reading.

Umair Abdul Qadir

06 Sep

Who Has the Authority to Make Funeral and Burial Arrangements on an Intestacy?

Umair Estate & Trust, Estate Planning, Funerals, Litigation, Uncategorized, Wills Tags: , , , , , , 0 Comments

Shortly after a death, the Estate Trustee is called upon to make important decisions about the funeral and burial arrangements for the deceased.

In many instances, the deceased’s Last Will and Testament may provide instructions to the Estate Trustee regarding the funeral or the burial. However, such wishes regarding burial and funeral arrangements are precatory and not binding on the Estate Trustee. Generally speaking, while it is advisable for an Estate Trustee to consider the wishes of the deceased and his or her next-of-kin when making decisions about the funeral and the burial, the Estate Trustee’s authority to make such decisions is only constrained by a legal duty to dispose of the remains in a dignified manner.

2015-08-Life-of-Pix-free-stock-photos-Flower-Vase-Xeromatic

While the authority to make these decisions is fairly straightforward where a deceased person leaves a Will naming an Estate Trustee, conflicts between family members can arise when the deceased dies intestate. This was recently illustrated by the Honourable Justice Smith’s decision in Catto v Catto, 2016 ONSC 3025.

In Catto, the Deceased died after less than a year of marriage to his spouse, Donna. Donna made arrangements for the Deceased’s funeral and burial in his hometown of LaColle, Quebec. However, before the Deceased’s ashes could be buried in his family’s plot in Quebec, Donna advised the funeral director that she wished to transport the ashes back to Peterborough. The funeral director advised Donna that the Deceased’s place of burial was ultimately her decision, and Donna decided to have the ashes interred in Peterborough without notice to any of the Deceased’s family members.

The Deceased’s mother subsequently brought an Application, alleging that the Deceased had wished to be buried in the family plot in Quebec and that Donna had agreed to the Deceased’s burial in the family plot. The Deceased’s mother sought Orders  that the Deceased’s ashes be exhumed and that half of the ashes be returned to the family plot. As the Deceased had died without a Will, she also sought an Order appointing her as the Deceased’s Estate Trustee.

Where a person dies intestate, section 29 of the Estates Act gives the Court the discretion to appoint the spouse or common law partner, the next-of-kin, or both the spouse and the next-of-kin as the Estate Trustee. Justice Smith confirmed that section 29 does not confer a priority to the spouse to be appointed as Estate Trustee.

However, in the circumstances, given that the Deceased’s mother lived outside Ontario, that Donna was the sole beneficiary of the Deceased’s Estate, and that there was no potential conflict of interest with her appointment as Estate Trustee, Justice Smith concluded that the administration of the Deceased’s Estate should be committed to his spouse.

Thus, Justice Smith held that “[t]he decision on where the deceased is to be buried and the manner of burial is a right that is granted to the administrator of the Estate which in this case, is his wife Donna.” The relief sought by the Deceased’s mother with respect to the exhumation and reburial of the Deceased’s ashes was denied.

The Catto decision highlights the conflicts that can emerge on an intestacy, and serves as a reminder of the importance of making a Will: although the testator may not be able to dictate the terms of his or her funeral and burial, he or she may be able to minimize the conflict and acrimony over who has the authority to make these decisions by simply naming an Estate Trustee.

Thank you for reading,

Umair Abdul Qadir

 

17 Jun

An Update Regarding Physician-Assisted Death

Umair Ethical Issues, General Interest, Health / Medical, In the News, News & Events Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying), continues to wind its way through the legislative process. The Bill is the federal government’s proposed new law regarding physician-assisted death, in response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Carter v Canada. The Bill was passed by the Senate on June 15, 2016 with several amendments. Yesterday, Members of Parliament in the House of Commons voted 190 to 108 in favour of the Bill, and sent it back to the Senate.

CVG5CHT04FAs we have previously blogged, the Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark decision in Carter v Canada declared that the prohibition against physician-assisted death in the Criminal Code violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
However, in order to provide the government with sufficient time to enact a law that would pass constitutional muster, the Court suspended its declaration that the relevant sections of the Criminal Code were of no force and effect for a period of 12 months. The deadline was set to expire on February 6, 2016.

The Supreme Court subsequently granted a further four-month extension, which was set to expire on June 6, 2016. However, the Court granted an exemption for individuals who wished to exercise the right to physician-assisted death during this interim four-month period, holding that “they may apply to the superior court of their jurisdiction for relief in accordance with the criteria set out in para. 127 of our reasons in Carter.”

In response, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice published a practice advisory that provided guidance on the procedural steps for such an interim application. However, upon the expiry of the Supreme Court’s suspension of its declaration on June 6, 2016, and in the absence of enacted federal legislation, it was unclear if individuals seeking access to a physician-assisted death still had to bring an application before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice for such relief.

As of June 6, 2016, the Ontario government’s website stated that assisted death was legal in Canada, “as long as the criteria set out in the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision are met.”

The government’s website also stated that, while it was not required by the Supreme Court of Canada, patients and healthcare professionals were encouraged “to seek further clarity and certainty about how the Supreme Court’s decision applies to their particular circumstances by bringing an application to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.”

However, in a decision rendered on June 15, 2016, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice held that judicial authorization is still required in the absence of a federal law.

The Honourable Justice Paul Perell, who had previously rendered the first decision regarding physician-assisted death in Ontario pursuant to the Superior Court of Justice’s interim practice advisory, has held that those seeking a physician-assisted death must still bring an application until the federal legislation is passed.

Given Justice Perell’s recent decision, although physician-assisted death is technically legal in Canada, individuals and healthcare providers in Ontario would be well-advised to consult with a lawyer and bring an application for judicial authorization before making end-of-life decisions.

Thank you for reading,

Umair Abdul Qadir

16 Jun

Cost Awards and Offers to Settle

Umair Beneficiary Designations, General Interest, Litigation, RRSPs/Insurance Policies Tags: , , , , , , 0 Comments

As we have previously blogged, the possibility of an adverse costs award should always be top of mind for parties who intend to litigate an estate-related matter. In Ontario, the general rule in civil litigation is that costs – some or all of the successful party’s legal fees – are to be paid by the losing party.

Costs are ultimately at the discretion of the Court. In addition to considering the result of the proceedings, the Court may also take any written offers to settle into consideration when making a determination regarding costs awards.

1920568BD3It is generally advisable for parties to make a reasonable offer early in the litigation. If the offer does not result in a settlement, it may still be helpful to the offeror on the issue of costs if the litigation proceeds.

In particular, an offer made pursuant to Rule 49 of the Rules of Civil Procedure can be an effective mechanism to reduce a party’s exposure to costs. Pursuant to Rule 49.10, where an offer to settle is made at least seven days before the commencement of the hearing and remains open for acceptance until the commencement of the hearing, there may be cost consequences if the offeree fails to accept the offer.

Manufacturers Life Insurance Co. v Sorozan Estate, 2016 ONSC 3805, a recent costs decision rendered by the Honourable Justice Dunphy, reiterates the importance of making an early and reasonable offer to settle.

Professor David Freedman recently blogged about Justice Dunphy’s judgment on the motion regarding the proper designated beneficiary of the Deceased’s group life insurance policy. The Deceased’s son brought a motion to have the disputed portion of the insurance proceeds paid to him, and the Deceased’s spouse brought a cross-motion for the proceeds to be paid to her. Justice Dunphy concluded that the Deceased’s spouse was the sole designated beneficiary of the policy.

In his subsequent reasons on the issue of costs, Justice Dunphy noted that the Deceased’s spouse had made two offers to settle: one offer to divide the disputed insurance proceeds equally prior to the commencement of the litigation, and a further less favourable offer after argument before the Court.

Justice Dunphy did not give any weight to the later offer, but did attach some weight to the offer made prior to the motion. Justice Dunphy noted that even though the offer was not in technical conformity with Rule 49 and was not an official offer to settle, and it was unclear if the offer was open for acceptance until the commencement of the hearing, “such an offer is entitled to some weight if not necessarily the same weight as one that was formally made and legally open to acceptance up until the commencement of the hearing the motion.”

In the result, costs were awarded against the Deceased’s son. Importantly, Justice Dunphy noted that if the offer had not been made, the Court would have been inclined to leave the parties to bear their own costs due to the “unusual circumstances” of the case.

Thank you for reading,

Umair Abdul Qadir

14 Jun

Spence and McCorkill – Leave to Appeal Dismissed

Umair Ethical Issues, In the News, Litigation, News & Events, Public Policy, Wills Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

On June 9, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered its decisions in applications for leave to appeal two recent cases that have been closely watched by the estates bar.

The Supreme Court has dismissed both applications for leave to appeal the recent appellate decisions, which considered a court’s ability to intervene and set aside a Will or a bequest under a Will for violating public policy.signature-962355_960_720[1]

In Spence v BMO Trust Company, 2016 ONCA 196, the Deceased made a Will that disinherited one of his daughters, Verolin. Although the Will was not discriminatory on its face, Verolin sought a declaration from the lower court that the Will was void and relied on extrinsic affidavit evidence to argue that the Deceased had disinherited Verolin for racist reasons.

The lower court accepted the extrinsic evidence and held that the Will was invalid on the basis of public policy. However, the Ontario Court of Appeal  allowed the appeal of the BMO Trust Company, holding that the Will was clear on its face and did not offend public policy. You can read and hear more about the Court of Appeal’s decision, which now stands as the final judgment in this case, on our blog and podcast.

The Supreme Court has also denied leave to appeal the New Brunswick Court of Appeal’s decision in Canadian Association for Free Expression v Streed et al, 2015 NBCA 50 (more commonly referred to as the McCorkill decision).

In McCorkill, the testator left the residue of his Estate to the National Alliance, a white supremacist organization based out of the United States. Much like Spence, there was no discriminatory language on the face of the Will. However, the lower court set aside the bequest to the National Alliance because the purposes and activities of the beneficiary organization were contrary to public policy. The lower court’s decision was upheld on appeal to the New Brunswick Court of Appeal. We have previously written about the McCorkill decision here, here and here.

Spence and the McCorkill are not the only two recent cases where a Will has been challenged for being discriminatory. My colleague Noah Weisberg has reported on a claim in British Columbia where a testator is alleged to have disinherited his daughter on the basis of her sexual orientation.

Thank you for reading,

Umair Abdul Qadir

01 Apr

Dementia Care and Robots

Umair Elder Law, General Interest, Health / Medical, In the News, News & Events Tags: , , , 0 Comments

robotWe have recently highlighted some of the interesting ways in which medical and technological experts and policymakers across the globe are responding to dementia. With an aging population and the increasing prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, there is a growing need to focus on how to create a more dementia-capable society.

In instances where a individual living with dementia is no longer able to make decisions regarding their care, that responsibility falls to the individual’s substitute decision-maker. Substitute decision-makers may be required to make important and difficult decisions about the incapable person’s care, such as the use of caregivers and home support services.

Individuals who are tasked with making decisions regarding the care and companionship for people living with dementia may soon have a new option available to them. Reuters recently profiled Nadine, a humanoid robot developed by scientists at the Nanyang Technological University that may someday be used as a companion for individuals living with dementia.

According to the university, Nadine is a “social robot,” which means that she has a memory and personality of her own and is able to exhibit moods and emotions. Nadine currently works as a receptionist at the university, and could also serve as a personal assistant or companion to the elderly.

Nadine’s creator, Professor Nadia Thalmann of the Nanyang Technological University, has suggested that Nadine may be particularly useful as a companion for individuals who are living with dementia. She is quoted in Reuters as saying, “if you leave [individuals with dementia] alone they will be going down very quickly. So these people need to always be in interaction.”

With human-like features and emotional intelligence to boot, Nadine provides an interesting example of the creative ways in which technology could address the needs of people living with dementia. We recently highlighted another example: the story of “Paro” the harp seal, a Japanese automoton that was one of the earlier robotic inventions to be used in dementia care. However, it remains to be seen if this new technology will ultimately be put to use in individual and institutional care settings.

In the meantime, if you would like to see Nadine the humanoid robot at work, don’t miss this YouTube video of Nadine interacting with Professor Thalmann.

Thank you for reading and have a great weekend,

Umair Abdul Qadir

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