Tag: will

15 Sep

Hull on Estates #597 – Pour Over Clauses

76admin Hull on Estate and Succession Planning, Hull on Estate and Succession Planning, Hull on Estates, Podcasts, Wills Tags: , , , , , 0 Comments

This week on Hull on Estates, Jonathon Kappy and Stuart Clark discuss Quinn Estate v. Rydland2019 BCCA 91, and the concept of “pour over clauses” more generally and whether you can leave a bequest in a Will to an already existing inter vivos trust.

Should you have any questions, please email us at webmaster@hullandhull.com or leave a comment on our blog.

Click here for more information on Jonathon Kappy.

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10 Sep

Substitute Decision-Making Disputes: The Best Interests of the Incapable is Key

Rebecca Rauws Power of Attorney Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

I have previously blogged about Vanier v Vanier, a decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal relating to a dispute amongst attorneys, in which the Court of Appeal agreed with a statement by the motion judge that the attorneys had “lost sight of the fact that it is [the incapable’s] best interests that must be served here, not their own pride, suspicions, authority or desires”. Unfortunately, it is often the case that in disputes amongst family members over the management of an incapable family member’s care or property, the incapable’s interests may be overshadowed by the fight amongst the other members of the family.

The recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision in Lockhart v Lockhart, 2020 ONSC 4667, appears to be another similar situation.

The applicant, Barbara, and the respondent, Robert, are children of Mrs. Lockhart. Mrs. Lockhart was 89 years old at the time of the decision. A number of years before, she had contracted bacterial meningitis and had suffered some long-lasting effects that impacted her cognition. Mrs. Lockhart’s husband predeceased her on October 2, 2018. Prior to his death, he had made personal care and treatment decisions for Mrs. Lockhart when she was not able to do so herself. After Mrs. Lockhart’s husband’s death, Barbara was unable to locate a power of attorney for personal care for Mrs. Lockhart; accordingly, Barbara and Robert proceeded to make personal care decisions on Mrs. Lockhart’s behalf, jointly.

However, in December 2018, Robert arranged to have Mrs. Lockhart sign a power of attorney for personal care and a power of attorney for property naming him as her sole attorney (the “2018 POAs”). Barbara was not aware of the 2018 POAs, and was not involved in their preparation or execution. Barbara did not even become aware of the 2018 POAs until April 2020 when Robert revealed them to her in the midst of a dispute between Barbara and Robert relating to Mrs. Lockhart’s care. Barbara subsequently challenged the validity of the 2018 POAs on the basis that, among other things, Mrs. Lockhart was not capable of granting them.

The court found that the 2018 POAs were of no force and effect, and were void ab initio. The court was also asked to determine which of Barbara and Robert would be authorized to make decisions on Mrs. Lockhart’s behalf under the Health Care Consent Act, 1996 (the “HCCA”). Each of Barbara and Robert took the position that they should have sole decision-making authority.

Notably, the court stated specifically that “[t]his dispute has less to do with Mrs. Lockhart’s interests and more to do with a power struggle between two siblings.” Given this outcome, and the facts leading to the litigation, I found the solution arrived at by the court interesting. The court determined that both Barbara and Robert are authorized to make personal care, health care, and treatment decisions under the HCCA, on behalf of Mrs. Lockhart, jointly. It appears that the court was satisfied that both of Barbara and Robert would exercise that authority in Mrs. Lockhart’s best interests, notwithstanding the dispute between them that lead to litigation. Other than the major disagreement between Barbara and Robert that lead to the litigation, the court found that “it appears that they have, in the main, come to decisions that have been in Mrs. Lockhart’s best interest and have kept her safe.” This historic ability to make joint decisions seems to have been sufficient for the court to decide that Barbara and Robert should continue doing so going forward.

Thanks for reading,

Rebecca Rauws

 

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08 Sep

Older Adults and Capacity to make Decisions: Protection vs. Autonomy

Rebecca Rauws Elder Law Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

As we age, many of us begin to experience the normal consequences of aging, including some memory loss. Unfortunately, many of us may end up suffering from Alzheimer’s and related dementias. As a result, capacity has become a bigger problem among seniors.

There are ways to manage decision-making for a senior who has lost capacity to make his or her own decisions about care or property. If the person executed a power of attorney, their attorney can step in. If there is no power of attorney, a guardian can be appointed by the court. However, the imposition of a substitute decision maker can be a significant restriction on an older adult’s liberty, and some seniors may resist that imposition.

An article in The Walrus earlier this year considered this issue, and the impact a finding of incapacity can have on a senior’s autonomy in Canada.

One of the concerns discussed in the article is that “some seniors find that, once declared incapable, they are unable to challenge the decision.” In Ontario, we have the Consent and Capacity Board, which is an independent tribunal that, among other things, reviews various determinations regarding an individual’s capacity. However, this is apparently a rarity in Canada. The only other similar body is located in the Yukon.

Another issue raised by the Walrus article is with the lack of a standardized system for assessing capacity. The person doing the assessment can vary (doctor, nurse, social worker, etc.), as well as the tests conducted. This is made even more complicated by the fact that there are differing levels of capacity for different tasks (e.g. making a Will, managing property, getting married, granting a power of attorney for personal care).

Unfortunately, the lack of attention paid to the issue of aging and capacity appears to be systemic. As cynically, but perhaps also realistically stated in the Walrus article: “It can seem like a great deal of attention is paid to other institutions that house vulnerable segments of the population, such as children in daycares. But there’s no future in aging; there is next to no potential that a senior might one day cure cancer or be the next prime minister. Reform in elder care may be desperately needed, but it hasn’t been forthcoming.”

There is a fine balance to be struck between restricting seniors’ autonomy, and protecting vulnerable people. A collaborative “supported decision-making model”, as discussed in the article may be one way of doing this. I hope that as more attention is drawn to these issues, there will be greater awareness, and increased progress and reform for our seniors.

Thanks for reading,

Rebecca Rauws

 

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23 Jun

Hull on Estates #592 – Dealing with the Body: Issues on an Intestacy

76admin Hull on Estate and Succession Planning, Hull on Estates, Hull on Estates, Uncategorized Tags: , , , , , 0 Comments

This week on Hull on Estates, Natalia Angelini and Doreen So discuss the estate administration issues surrounding the disposition of the body, where there is no will, in Re Timmerman Estate, 2020 ONSC 3424 (CanLII) and Re Timmerman Estate, 2020 ONSC 3425 (CanLII).

Should you have any questions, please email us at webmaster@hullandhull.com or leave a comment on our blog.

Click here for more information on Natalia Angelini.

Click here for more information on Doreen So.

04 May

What are the Risks of Virtually Witnessing a Will or Power of Attorney?

Rebecca Rauws Estate Planning, Power of Attorney, Wills Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Natalia Angelini recently blogged about some helpful tips from LawPRO on how to minimize the risk when virtually witnessing Wills and powers of attorney. On April 24, LawPRO posted another helpful article about the risks of “renting out” your signature as a virtual witness.

The emergency legislation requires that one of the witnesses to a Will that is executed by means of audio-visual communication technology (which now temporarily meets the Succession Law Reform Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. S.26 requirement that the testator and witnesses be “in the presence of” each other), be a Law Society licensee. This means that some of us may be asked to be witnesses to a Will or power of attorney that we did not prepare ourselves. However, as LawPRO points out, simply being a witness does not necessarily mean that we will not be held responsible if there are problems with the Will or power of attorney.

Some of the issues that may arise could include the following:

  • Problems with the Will or power of attorney not being executed properly, in accordance with the requirements for due execution and the specific requirements of virtual execution pursuant to the temporary legislation.
  • The Will or power of attorney not reflecting the testator or grantor’s wishes. This may arise if a testator or grantor prepares their own Will or power of attorney from an online service or kit, resulting in a document that is likely not tailored to the testator or grantor’s particular situation, financial circumstances, and wishes.
  • Technical errors in the document, such as the omission of a residue clause, which can drastically impact the distribution of the testator’s assets.

LawPRO has provided some tips for how to protect yourself if you are asked to be a witness to a Will or power of attorney that you did not prepare (although the tips seem equally applicable if you did prepare the document in question):

  • Take detailed notes.
  • Send a reporting letter following the execution of the document and confirm the scope of your retainer.
  • Record the signing (with the client’s permission).

You may also consider having the testator or grantor sign a limited retainer agreement, before you witness the Will or power of attorney, which explicitly sets out that you have been engaged only for the purpose of witnessing the document, and not to review it or provide any legal advice.

Thanks for reading, and stay safe!

Rebecca Rauws

 

These other blog posts may also be of interest:

23 Apr

The Will that was Written on a McDonald’s Napkin

Doreen So Estate Planning, General Interest, In the News, Uncategorized, Wills Tags: , , , 0 Comments

The University of Saskatchewan’s College of Law proudly displays the will that was etched onto the fender of a tractor by a dying farmer.  That happened in 1948.  Decades later, the Saskatchewan Queens Bench was similarly asked to determine whether a note handwritten on a McDonald’s napkin is a valid will.

Philip Langan died in 2015.  He was a widower with eight children (Earl was predeceased and Landry died after the napkin was written but before Langan’s death).  Shortly after Langan’s death, two of his children came forward with a McDonald’s napkin that they claim to be their father’s last will and testament.  Ronald and Sharon explained that the napkin was made when their father thought he was having a heart attack at McDonald’s.  Sharon said that she was not there when her father started to write on the napkin but she was there to see him sign his name.  She said he gave the napkin to her and said “This is my will.  I want you to keep this in case something happens”.  A third child, Philip, supported the validity of the will because he was also at the McDonald’s that day.  Like Sharon, Philip did not see his father write on the napkin but he was there when the napkin was given to Sharon and he heard what his father said to Sharon.

Maryann challenged the validity of the napkin because she was skeptical of whether it was in her father’s handwriting.  She also stated that Langan told her that he would not leave a will because “he wanted us to fight like he had to”.  Yet, interestingly enough, an intestacy would still give rise to the same result as the napkin on the consent of the siblings.

The napkin itself was described as follows in Gust v. Langan, 2020 SKQB 42 (CanLII):

“written in pen on a very thin, brown-coloured, paper restaurant napkin reads as follows:

Ron Langan

Dennis Langan

Sharon Langan

Landry Langan

Philip W. Langan

Marann Langan (Gust)

Dallas Langan

Split my property evenly,

“Dad Philip Langan”

The court found that the napkin was a valid holograph will.  Justice Layh was persuaded by the propounders’ explanation that the napkin was made at a time when Langan thought he was having a heart attack “a time when one’s mind would reasonably turn to the question of estate planning, especially in the absence of an existing will. Mr. Langan’s immediate delivery of the will to his daughter, Sharon, and the comment he made to her – as evidenced by both Sharon and Philip’s statements – that she keep the document in case something happened to him, shows a clear testamentary intention.” (para. 22).

While the legal analysis in this case is based on the law in Saskatchewan (unlike Ontario, Saskatchewan has curative legislation that permits substantial compliance), Gust v. Langan is a timely reminder that, in addition to the formal requirements of a holograph will, testamentary intent is crucial in determining whether a document can be given effect as a will.  On the face of the napkin, there was nothing to indicate when Langan intended to divide his property.  The essential characteristic of a will is the intention to dispose of property after one’s death.  Here, the court had to rely on the extrinsic of evidence from Langan’s state of mind and what he said to Sharon.

Should you find yourself in a situation where an emergency holograph will is needed, you may want to refer to Ian Hull and Jordan Atin’s blog on the subject:

https://hullandhull.com/2020/03/emergency-holograph-wills-for-clients-in-isolation/

I would also suggest that regular paper be used, if you have some, for practical reasons or to simply avoid media coverage since this particular McDonald’s napkin has made the news in New York and Australia.

Thanks for reading.

Doreen So

 

03 Mar

Hull on Estates #590 – Substantial Compliance vs. Strict Compliance

76admin Hull on Estate and Succession Planning, Hull on Estate and Succession Planning, Hull on Estates, Wills Tags: , , , 0 Comments

In today’s podcast, Paul Trudelle and Kira Domratchev discuss the British Columbia Supreme Court’s decision in Hubschi Estate (Re), 2019 BCSC 2040, and the factors considered by the Court in holding that the document found on the deceased’s computer was a Will in accordance with the curative provisions of the relevant legislation.

Should you have any questions, please email us at webmaster@hullandhull.com or leave a comment on our blog.

Click here for more information on Paul Trudelle.

Click here for more information on Kira Domratchev.

06 Feb

How Important is it to Include a Residuary Gift-over Clause in your Will?

Rebecca Rauws Wills Tags: , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

A couple of weeks ago, my colleague Noah Weisberg and I did a podcast about the recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision Re Vaudrey, 2019 ONSC 7551. But for those who prefer to read rather than listen, I thought I would provide a brief summary on the blog as well.

The testator in Re Vaudrey died in September 2018. Prior to his death, he had been married to Ethel Vaudrey. The testator and Ethel had been separated for a number of years, but had not divorced. Ethel predeceased the testator, passing away in 2007.

The testator and Ethel had two daughters, Sheila and Kristin. Sheila also predeceased the testator in 2013. She had never married and had no children. After the testator and Ethel separated, Kristin became estranged from the testator. The decision notes that Kristin described the testator as emotionally and verbally abusive.

Kristin was the only surviving family member of the testator.

The testator left a Will executed in 2005. The court was of the view that, based on its format and content, the Will did not appear to have been prepared by a lawyer.

The Will provided that Sheila was to be appointed as estate trustee, and inherit the residue of the testator’s estate, provided that she survived the testator by 30 days. If Sheila did not survive the testator for 30 days, the Will provided that Ethel was to be appointed as estate trustee, and inherit the residue. Again, however, this was conditional on Ethel surviving the testator by 30 days. As mentioned above, both Sheila and Ethel predeceased the testator.

The Will was witnessed by Sheila and another witness.

Lastly, the Will also specifically stated that “under no circumstances is any part of [the testator’s] estate to be transferred to [his] estranged daughter, Kristin P. Vaudrey, or to any of her descendants.”

Unfortunately for the testator, he had not set out in his Will how the residue of his estate was to be distributed in the event that both Sheila and Ethel predeceased him, as they did. The court found that the residue of the estate was to be distributed pursuant to the intestacy rules set out in s. 47 of the Succession Law Reform Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. S.26 (the “SLRA”). On this basis, Kristin was determined to be the sole heir-at-law of the residue. Accordingly, despite the testator’s wish that Kristin not inherit any part of his estate, his failure to include a gift-over clause with respect to the residue resulted in her inheriting the entire residue.

It is also interesting that Sheila was a witness to the Will. Pursuant to s. 12 of the SLRA, where a beneficiary witnesses the execution of a Will, the bequest to that beneficiary will be void. Even if Sheila had survived the testator, the gift of the residue to her would have been void in any event.

Thanks for reading,

Rebecca Rauws

 

You may also enjoy these other blog posts:

03 Dec

New Advance Care Planning Toolkit

Rebecca Rauws Uncategorized Tags: , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Recently, the Advance Care Planning in Canada initiative, led by the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association, released a new resource to assist with advance care planning and choosing a substitute decision maker.

The “Speak Up” initiative includes two complementary resources.

One resource is the “Living Well, Planning Well” legal toolkit. The development of this toolkit was funded by Health Canada. The legal toolkit was designed to be used by lawyers and their clients, to encourage conversations and reflections about clients’ wishes for advance care planning, and putting appropriate arrangements in place.

The other resource is a public toolkit. It provides plain language information regarding the laws and processes with respect to advance care planning and substitute decision-making throughout Canada. This is helpful as the laws can vary between the provinces and territories.

It is very important to consider advance care planning, and to implement plans as early as possible. In particular, everyone should consider executing a power of attorney, to ensure that they are able to select the person responsible for making decisions on their behalf when they are no longer capable. Without a power of attorney, in Ontario, the ultimate decision as to who will make decisions on an incapable person’s behalf (other than those captured by the Health Care Consent Act, 1996), is left to the court. The court takes such matters very seriously, but most people prefer that the choice of substitute decision maker be their own.

Something else to contemplate is speaking with your family and friends, especially with your named attorney, regarding your wishes. As we enter the holiday season, and plan gatherings with our friends and family, consider taking this opportunity to have a conversation in this regard.

You can review Speak Up’s post about the release of their toolkit here.

Thanks for reading,

Rebecca Rauws

 

You may enjoy these other blog posts:

08 Oct

Hull on Estates #581 – Minimal Evidentiary Threshold in Will Challenges

76admin Estate & Trust, Estate Planning, Hull on Estate and Succession Planning, Hull on Estate and Succession Planning, Hull on Estates, Hull on Estates, Podcasts, Wills Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

On today’s podcast, Paul Trudelle and Rebecca Rauws discuss the recent decision of Naismith v Clarke, 2019 ONSC 5280, and the minimal evidentiary threshold test for will challenges.

Should you have any questions, please email us at webmaster@hullandhull.com or leave a comment on our blog.

Click here for more information on Paul Trudelle.

Click here for more information on Rebecca Rauws.

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