Estate Planning & Administration

Is a do-it-yourself Will valid? Does it need witnesses?

There seem to be two common types of do-it-yourself wills out there and both require the maker, or testator, to sign the document. The first is created using a will kit and contains a template. This one requires two witnesses to sign the will, in the testator’s presence, after the testator has signed it. The […]

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When I’m acting as a personal representative (executor), do I need to be in contact with the beneficiaries?

While clear and regular communication with beneficiaries is always a good idea, it is also a requirement. At minimum, you are required to notify the beneficiaries of the following information: the name of the deceased person, your name and contact information, the gift the beneficiary will receive from the estate, and that gifts are subject […]

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How does independent legal advice (“ILA”) work and what does it cost?

ILA is more than a lawyer witnessing your signature; it’s necessary to meet the legal requirements for a valid agreement when couples are separating, divorcing, or starting out. Your lawyer will review your agreement and your situation with you, ask how the agreement was negotiated, and review what financial information was exchanged. Your lawyer will […]

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What can I expect at an initial consultation with a lawyer?

This first meeting with a lawyer is an opportunity to do several things.  It allows you to: assess whether you and the lawyer are compatible to work together; learn about the different options and resources available to you to address your legal matter; obtain general legal advice; and create a plan for moving forward. A […]

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We want to sell our house here in St. Albert which is held jointly with my husband. My husband has lost his mental capacity but he appointed me as his attorney to act on his behalf. The power of attorney was made and signed when we lived in Newfoundland. Can we complete the sale here?

As long as the power of attorney meets the requirements of a power of attorney in Newfoundland, states that it survives mental incapacity, meets the normal registration requirements here, references the sale of real property, and a lawyer writes a letter stating that it meets the above criteria, you may sign on behalf your husband […]

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What’s the difference between an Enduring Power of Attorney and a Personal Directive? If my spouse loses his/her mental capacity, won’t I be able to take care of everything?

Both documents work together to allow you to appoint a decision-maker when and if you become mentally incapable. A Personal Directive sets out your wishes regarding medical decisions, end of life care, and consent for placement in long-term care, among other things. Without it, a friend or family member may have to make an application […]

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Why would I pay a lawyer to assist me in drafting my Enduring Power of Attorney and Personal Directive?

There are many resources available to assist people in creating their own documents.  However, 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, and he or she can offer some […]

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Divorced? Have you changed your will?

Recent changes to estate legislation in Alberta now cause a gift in a will to a former spouse to be revoked, unless a contrary intention can be shown. However, this new rule only applies to situations where the divorce was granted after the changes were proclaimed, which happened in February 2012. If you were divorced […]

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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: 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: 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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Ask an Expert: I would like to make a few minor changes to my will. Do I need to redo the current will? Can I do a codicil instead?

The answer to the first question is no, and to the second is yes. However, I would recommend the opposite! A codicil is a short document to which the same rules of execution apply as for wills and which must be attached to your original will setting out the changes. Codicils can create more problems […]

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Ask an Expert: Are you the executor of an estate containing firearms?

The executor, or personal representative, is responsible to ensure that all firearms are stored legally or are properly disposed of reasonably quickly. If the firearms are unwanted, the executor may sell them to a licensed purchaser, lawfully deactivate the firearms, or surrender them to a police or firearms officer, after making arrangements to do so. […]

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Ask an Expert: What does probating an estate mean?

When someone dies, we often hear people referring to “getting probate.” An application for letters probate from the court refers to the process of formally proving a deceased person’s will is valid. An executor is then authorized to act on behalf of a deceased person’s estate, including distributing the net assets to beneficiaries. Once done, […]

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Ask an Expert: Why do I need a personal directive, an enduring power of attorney, and a will?

With the holiday season now behind us again, thoughts often turn to getting organized and looking toward the future. While you likely do not like to think about your own demise, it is important to think about your legacy, how you wish to be cared for should you become mentally incapable, and how you wish […]

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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?

Legislation 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 rights; or (c) neither he or she, nor his or her spouse, ever lived in the property for […]

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Ask an Expert: What does “probating an estate” mean?

When someone dies, we often hear people referring to “getting probate.” An application for letters probate from the court refers to the process of formally proving a deceased person’s will is valid. An executor is then authorized to act on behalf of a deceased person’s estate, including distributing the net assets to beneficiaries. At that […]

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Ask an Expert: Divorced? Have you changed your will?

Recent changes to estate legislation in Alberta will now cause a gift in a will to a former spouse to be revoked, unless a contrary intention can be shown. However, this new rule only applies to situations where the divorce was granted after the changes were proclaimed, which happened in February 2012. If you were divorced before 2012, a gift […]

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