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Author Archives: Wendy Phillips-Berard

Ask an Expert: What happens to my online accounts upon my death?

The new Estate Administration Act requires an executor, also called a personal representative, to manage online accounts and to identify and manage digital assets. When creating an estate plan, care should be given to creating a list of all online accounts (like eBay or PayPal) and virtual property (communications like Gmail or MSN; media like […]

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Ask an Expert: What really are the differences between using the collaborative process rather than going to court?

There are a lot of reasons why so many people are choosing to resolve matters arising on separation outside of the court system. Some of the big ones include: 1. Confidentiality. Many personal and financial details can otherwise become part of the filed documents. 2. Creativity. Working together offers many more options regarding how to […]

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Ask an Expert: I’m getting divorced. Can I move to another province?

There are no restrictions on moving to another province. However, if you have not finalized matters and if you expect that you will need to resolve matters in court rather than through negotiation, you need to consider the residency requirements in the Divorce Act. To start a divorce action, you or your ex-spouse need to […]

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Ask an Expert: I’ve been separated for years. Why do I need my ex-spouse’s consent to sell the house I bought after our separation?

Dower rights give a non-owning spouse the right to live in the house following the owner’s death. Alberta law requires any landowner who is selling land in his or her own name to swear an affidavit setting out that: (a) he or she is not married; (b) an ex-spouse has released his or her dower […]

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Ask an Expert: How can I not win and still be successful in my divorce?

Ending a marriage is one of the most difficult things someone can face. It can throw a couple into turmoil, often bringing the whole family into chaos—at least for a time. Divorcing couples can be defensive, protective, and feel pressure to “best” the other spouse in negotiations, especially if entering into our adversarial court system, […]

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Ask an Expert: I’m getting divorced. How can I prepare myself to move forward more positively?

Research shows there are three preconditions for positive change. First, something must motivate an individual to want to change. Second, a different relationship that provides psychological safety, empathy, and attunement must exist (like with a divorce coach). Third, there must be optimal anxiety—just the right amount of discomfort in the present to want to move […]

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Ask an Expert: Focus on children at Christmas.

Recently, when discussing plans for Christmas with my family, we talked about how kids may experience the holidays when their parents have recently separated or are having relationship difficulties, which can be heightened over the holidays. With so much focus on the “business” of Christmas and on the problems parents are facing themselves, the fact […]

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Ask an Expert: My ex-spouse and I do not communicate very well right now and use email to talk about our kids, but the emails seem so nasty. What can I do?

First, take a breath! Resist the temptation to respond immediately. Take the time to consider whether you need to respond at all, and if you do, consider trying a BIFF Response. This approach, developed by the High Conflict Institute, recommends being brief, informative, friendly, and firm. Keep it short and resist getting personal. Stick to […]

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Ask an Expert: Why would I pay a lawyer to assist me in drafting my enduring power of attorney and personal directive?

While there are many resources available to assist people in creating their own documents, it is important to ensure that you are thorough and that all arrangements, including those in your will and those between partners or spouses, all work together. A lawyer is like any other expert, in that he or she can offer […]

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Ask an Expert: My mother just passed away and I am the executor or personal representative named in her will. Do I have to meet with a lawyer right away?

You are certainly welcome to meet with a lawyer to discuss your responsibilities, and whether you wish to assume that role, at any time. Having said that, so long as any urgent matters, like ensuring property is secure and that it will remain insured, have been taken care of, the rest of the estate administration […]

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