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Bad Behaviour

Will a Dependant be Denied Support for Misconduct?

Ontario’s courts and legislature offer an avenue for dependants to challenge how the estate of the deceased is distributed. While a testator generally has the right to dictate what happens to his/her assets upon death, certain relationships create responsibilities that limit this testamentary freedom, and a court might order that the estate pay the dependant support from the estate, over and above what the testator had intended. But what happens if the dependant mistreated the testator or, in the most egregious cases, caused the testator’s death?
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Court Order Capacity Assessment

Court Ordered Capacity Assessments

An individual who is determined to be incapable of managing their affairs may require a guardian to oversee and assist them. The Substitute Decisions Act 1992, (the “SDA”) provides that “An order appointing a guardian of property for a person shall include a finding that the person is incapable of managing property and that, as a result, it is necessary for decisions to be made on his or her behalf by a person who is authorized to do so.” But what happens if that individual refuses to have a capacity assessment to determine if they are in fact incapable?
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Can Technology Help Wills and Estates Practitioners Avoid Mistakes?

As litigators who often prosecute claims against lawyers accused of negligence, we have observed first-hand the types of mistakes that are often made by lawyers. These mistakes generally stem from a failure to stay informed about the relevant law and/or to adopt and follow best practices when carrying out their duties. Increasingly, we anticipate that best practices will include utilisation of technical innovations. In this blog, we explore some of the ways in which such innovations may assist lawyers in avoiding malpractice errors and thereby reduce negligence claims.
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Death Certificate

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, Madness and…Lessons About the Law of Estates?

Netflix’s recent hit docuseries, “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness”, chronicles the true story of the self-professed “Tiger King”, Joe Maldonado-Passage, also known as “Joe Exotic”. Joe was an eccentric private zookeeper, country music singer, and one-time candidate for Governor of Oklahoma who is currently serving a 22 year federal prison sentence for hiring a hitman to murder his rival, Carole Baskin, as well as other wildlife-related offences. Believe it or not, this bizarre story from the big-cat world raises legal issues pertaining to the law of estates.
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Missing Benificiary

The Dilemma of the Missing Beneficiary

The task of an estate trustee is rarely an easy one. Much less so when a beneficiary of the estate was born in 1925, is believed to have lived in the United Kingdom, and whose whereabouts are not forthcoming from any of the deceased’s family members.  On top of this, he is rumoured to have had an affair with his sister-in-law, after which he was threatened by his brother and may have had reason to go into hiding. The above facts are drawn from a real case, Steele v. Smith, which was recently decided in Ontario. Did the estate trustee in this situation have an obligation to attempt to find the elusive beneficiary?  What should he have done if he couldn’t find him? These questions, and other related legal issues, will be discussed in this blog.
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