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what is a holograph will?

What’s a Holograph Will?

It was 1948 and this wheat farmer got off his tractor and by mistake put it in reverse.  It moved backward and trapped the poor guy catching one of his legs under the rear wheel of the tractor. He had enough freedom of movement to move his arms and hands, but could not reach the controls. His wife finally discovered him, but by the time she got him to the hospital his injuries overtook him and he died. When they examined the tractor the next day they discovered that the farmer scratched the following on the fender, “In case I die in this mess, I leave all to the wife. Cecil Geo. Harris.” This incident took place in Saskatchewan. The court accepted the writing on the fender as a holographic will.  What would have happened if it took place in Ontario today?
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estate law mediation

Winning the Mediation in Estate Litigation

The vast majority of lawyers and mediators in the field appear to believe that mediation leads to more cases settling faster at a lower cost. Mandatory mediation was introduced in Ontario on a test basis on January 4, 1999.  In part, based on an independent 23-month evaluation of the pilot project, it became permanent. The results of that evaluation are set out in the Hann Report.  It suggests that mandatory mediation results in 40% of cases being completely settled earlier in the litigation process. This raises questions about the nature of the cases that are still going to trial.
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who gets fees

The Executor’s Fee – Payment to the Lawyer or the Law Firm?

Imagine this scenario: Larry the Lawyer works for a large law firm. For ease of reference let’s call the law firm LLF. The clients love Larry. One such client - let’s call him Clint the Client - was so impressed with him that he appointed Larry the Lawyer as his sole executor. Clint the Client is worth about $200,000,000. Using the tariff as a guide, the executor fees might be as much as $10 million. So does Larry the Lawyer or his firm LLF become entitled to the executor fees?
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capacity assessment

Practical Strategies and Best Practices For Drafting Solicitors in Assessing Testamentary Capacity

Solicitors working with clients to draft Wills and create estate plans are in an optimal position to deal with anticipated probate litigation. This blog will set out the law on testamentary capacity and techniques to create and preserve evidence to fend off challenges. Also discussed are the implications of a lawyer’s duty to a client when receiving instructions and conducting assessments.
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definition of child

What is a “child”?

What is a child? In everyday life, this is an innocuous question with a simple answer – you kind of know one when you see one. Whether you’re going to the movies, dining at a buffet, or riding the subway, what most people consider to be a “child” is clear, give or take a couple of years.
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Reduce Probate Fees with Multiple Wills

A Tale of Two Wills: Private Shares & Reducing Probate Fees with Multiple Wills

Applying for probate can be cumbersome, expensive, and can delay the administration of an estate. Unfortunately, it may be a practical necessity. The executor often needs to prove that they have legal authority to administer the estate in order to deal with certain types of estate assets. This is especially true in cases where the estate holds substantial assets, such as real property or a portfolio of investments in public corporations. That being the case, probate is not always required, and may even be avoided in some high-value estates.
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special items in estate law

A $50 million painting of Shakespeare – the administration of estates involving one of a kind assets

The main asset of the estate of Mary Sullivan is the Sanders Portrait, a 400 year old portrait purportedly of William Shakespeare. It is believed to have been painted during Shakespeare’s lifetime and has been appraised at $50 million USD. Ms. Sullivan died on April 6, 2020. Her last will and testament named her husband as the executor of her estate and in the event he predeceased her - which he did - her cousin. Ms. Sullivan’s cousin renounced, which left the second alternate, her long-time accountant Mr. Taylor, to administer the estate. Mr. Taylor accepted the appointment and five months later was met with an application brought by Mr. Meuse (a beneficiary) who sought to remove him.
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Severing A Joint Tenancy by Course of Dealing

Avoiding Probate: What is the First Dealings Exemption?

It is generally understood that an estate typically needs to go through probate where the deceased held real property without any other “joint tenants”. Contrary to popular belief, however, there are some exceptions that allow us to deal with real property without first having to go through probate. One of the more curious and relatively unknown exceptions is known as the “first dealings'' exemption.
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common law unfair inheritance

The Law Discriminates Against Common Law Spouses

Heather and Chaim never believed in marriage. They lived together for 20 years, had 3 children and were happy. Chaim was hit by a truck and died. He had no Will. Had Heather been legally married she could have: 1. had the right to elect for an equalization payment under the Family Law Act; or 2. received an inheritance by virtue of an intestacy under the Succession Law Reform Act. Since there was no Will, Heather would have inherited a preferential share of the estate equal to $350,000 and 1/3 of the balance to share with the Chaim’s three children.
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capacity assessment

The Shrink Next Door – legal options if this took place in Canada

Imagine Martin Markowitz’s sister coming into your office and telling you her brother’s story: “For nearly 30 years your psychiatrist takes over your life, claims your Southampton estate and your family business, as well as your Swiss bank account as his own. … He convinces you to become estranged from your only sister and persuades you that anyone you date is after you only for your money”.
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