On Tuesday, March 27, 2007, I attended the Ontario Bar Association Trust & Estates Section Meeting. Kathryn Bennett opened the meeting with a discussion 2007 federal budget and how it affects individuals from an estate planning point of view. Some of these points were touched upon in our earlier blogs.

The meeting continued with presentations by Justices Greer, Croll, Perell and Spies of the estates list. They addressed what the estates bench and bar can do better. The judges touched upon the following matters:

  • The Estates court will be sitting every week this summer;  
  • "1 1/2" judges will be sitting every week (1 in the summer months);  
  • At some point, an initiative will be put in place whereby the first appearance for long applications will be a 15 minute timetabling appointment;  
  • The judges stressed the importance of advising the estates office early if a motion or application is not proceeding, or if it is to be proceeding on consent;  
  • An e-scheduling pilot project will be put in place soon;  
  • The judges emphasized the advisability of filing a family tree as part of the record;
  • In guardianship applications, where the Public Guardian and Trustee has sent a letter raising issues, it may be advisable for a supplementary affidavit to be filed setting out how the issues raised by the Public Guardian and Trustee have been addressed; 
  • Counsel should try to simplify matters by setting out in the confirmation form what materials are to be reviewed by the judge, and, possibly, by attending at the court office the day before the proceeding in order to tag what materials are to be reviewed;
  • Counsel should consider the advisability of having a case management judge appointed in certain proceedings; 
  • When submitting an "unusual" over the counter motion, counsel should consider sending an explanatory covering letter, and requesting that the matter be put before a judge.
  • Mr. Justice Perell referred to a recent work which noted that in an information economy, what is scarce or valuable is attention. Applying this to advocacy, counsel should ensure that their message is effectively and efficiently packaged so that judicial attention is captured and focused. Counsel should have this in mind when considering the procedures to be used to determine the issues, and when preparing materials.

Until tomorrow,

Paul Trudelle