Tag: will

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.

19 Sep

Under What Circumstances will the Court Order Complete Indemnity Costs?

Rebecca Rauws Estate Litigation Tags: , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

In contentious litigation, it is quite rare for a court to award complete indemnity costs to one of the parties. The decision to award costs, and the amount of such costs, is within the court’s discretion. There are a number of factors for the court to consider in exercising its discretion, as set out in Rule 57.01 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, including factors relating to the conduct of a party.

Where a party has made an offer to settle pursuant to Rule 49 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, there are certain costs consequences if that party is successful, including the scale of costs to which they are entitled. Rule 49 specifically sets out when a party is entitled to partial or substantial indemnity costs. But in what circumstances will the Court increase the scale of costs to complete indemnity?

The recent decision of Churchill v Churchill, 2019 ONSC 5137 considered this issue. There had been a dispute between children over their mother’s estate. The plaintiffs were virtually entirely successful at trial as against the respondent, their brother, and had made several offers to settle that were more favourable to the brother than the results at trial. The court concluded that the plaintiffs were entitled to substantial indemnity costs from the date of the offers made, but raised the additional question of whether the scale of costs should be increased to complete indemnity, in view of the brother’s conduct throughout the proceedings. Citing the Ontario Court of Appeal, the court stated that, in order to increase the scale “the conduct of the losing party would have to be based on their serious misbehaviour so, as to fall within the category of ‘reprehensible’ behaviour”.

The court considered the brother’s behaviour, including his misappropriation of estate assets, failure to comply with court orders, and perseverance with meritless claims despite a number of court hearing with rulings adverse to the brother and two adverse costs awards. Although the brother was self-represented, that did not justify his conduct.

The plaintiffs’ complete indemnity costs were approximately $77,000.00. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiffs were entitled to more than substantial indemnity costs, and awarded them costs in the amount of $75,000.00.

Thanks for reading,

Rebecca Rauws

 

You may also be interested in these other blog posts:

17 Sep

We need Better-designed Products for Older People

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

A few months ago, I blogged about a New Yorker article that discussed the challenges of living well now that people are living longer than ever, and what is being done about it. One of the topics addressed was the difficulty of marketing certain products that are aimed at older adults, mainly because we do not want to buy something that will remind us that we are aging or old.

A recent article in MIT Technology Review asked an interesting, and related, question: Why are products for older people so ugly?

One quote in particular, I think, sums up the issue quite well:

Presented with products that are ‘brown, beige, and boring,’ many older people will forgo convenience for dignity.

Unfortunately, most individuals and companies who design products for older people seem to make assumptions about what older people are looking for in a product. For instance, they may assume that an older person cares more about functionality than aesthetics. In many cases this is not necessarily true, and the older person in question will likely end up feeling that the product ultimately draws unwanted attention to their age and particular needs.

The article discusses the idea that older people should be more directly involved in conversations about how to design the products that they need, or that are aimed at them. This would, of course, be helpful to those designing and using the products, but would also allow older people who may feel that they are no longer seen as contributing to society, do something that they may find useful and fulfilling.

The “Longevity Explorers” consulting group was created around this concept. It started with a group of older people meeting to discuss aging in order to pinpoint the areas that product developers should focus on. Participants can suggest topics they want to cover, and there is also a moderator who will introduce a main discussion topic. In 2017, a separate branch of the group was introduced to serve as paid focus groups for companies. Each “Explorer” receives a fee for participating in the focus group, and in exchange, the company gets feedback from their targeted customers (namely, seniors) about a product that they are designing.

This seems like a much-needed shift in how we think about products for older people. If we can focus on creating products that not only address the needs of older people, but are designed in a way that will make seniors want to use the product, both the companies selling the products, and importantly, the older people using them, will benefit.

Thanks for reading,

Rebecca Rauws

 

You may also enjoy these other blog posts:

16 Sep

What does Elder Abuse Look Like?

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

Financial elder abuse can take many forms. We have previously blogged about elder abuse by family members,  as well as the role technology plays in the increase in phone and email scams affected seniors.

This Global News article tells the story of an elderly couple who claim they were pressured into selling their house.

The couple had lived in their home in Woodbridge, Ontario, for over 20 years, and had no plans to move or sell their home. Although the house was not for sale, in February 2012, a real estate agent showed up at the couple’s door with an offer to purchase the home. There is some dispute about the subsequent interactions between the couple and the agent, but ultimately, a contract was signed for the sale of the couple’s home. After seeking advice from a lawyer, the couple refused to close on the sale of the home. The buyer brought a claim against the couple to enforce the contract, and it appears from the article that, as of October 2018, the litigation remained ongoing.

The couple say that, initially they ignored the offer to purchase that had been delivered by the real estate agent. The husband told his daughter that he had asked the agent several times to give him a few days to consult with his children before finalizing any deal. On the other hand, the agent says that negotiations occurred over a three-day period, and the couple had several days to consider the offer and consult with their children.

There is also a question of whether the couple was capable of entering into the sale transaction. The couple’s daughter says that the wife was 84 years old at the time and suffering from early onset dementia, and that the husband was not fluent in English.

The couple’s daughter believes that her parents were pressured into agreeing to sell their home by the agent. The article mentions that a similar situation could come up with any door-to-door salesperson, as elderly people are generally home during the day, and will typically open their door and talk to people. Unfortunately, there isn’t really a simple solution if an older adult is pressured into an agreement. If the other party to the agreement is intent on enforcing it, the senior may need to resort to failing to comply with the terms of the contract, which is likely to lead to litigation. That can be a stressful and time-consuming endeavour—the couple in the article are apparently still involved in litigation years after the contract was entered into.

Incidents like these are an unfortunate reminder that elder abuse continues to be an issue, and that it can take many forms. That being said, with increased attention will come increased awareness, which, I hope, will lead to the prevention or avoidance of similar issues in the future.

Thanks for reading,

Rebecca Rauws

 

Other blog posts that may be of interest:

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR BLOG

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.
 

CONNECT WITH US

CATEGORIES

ARCHIVES

TWITTER WIDGET