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Doctors and DNRs

In my research I came across the case of Douglas DeGuerre. His daughter, Joy Wawrzyniak, was the power of attorney for personal care. She wanted a full response including CPR in case of a heart attack. The doctors ignored her directions. Instead, they placed a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) note on DeGuerre’s file because the doctors felt that medical intervention would only prolong his suffering. The doctors did not tell the daughter about the change and felt they were not obliged under the Sunnybrook policy. Mr. DeGuerre passed away and the legal proceedings started. As reported in various newspapers and case law, the family complained to the College and lost. They appealed to Ontario’s health Professions Appeal and Review Board. Notwithstanding the fact that the Board and later on the College and disciplinary board rebuking them, the doctors were unrepentant. The family launched a law suit seeking $1,000,000 in damages. The trial is pending. I empathize with the family. Let me tell you why.
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Abc Of Will Challenges

The ABCs of a Will Challenge

“Unfairness” is the motivation many clients cite when they complain about a will. Unfortunately, unfairness is not a good enough reason for a judge to set aside a will. So what is a good reason? First, to make things a little easier, let’s introduce a key term when discussing wills. The person who makes a will is called a testator.
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Challenging the Wills of the Living

The traditional rule in Ontario is that one cannot challenge a will while the testator is still alive. However, in recent years, there have been some cases in which judges have expressed a willingness to adjudicate upon the validity of a will prior to the testator’s death. These cases might be mere anomalies or they might be signs that the general rule is weakening.
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Abrams v. Abrams & Capacity Assessments

Once a parent is declared incapable, the children can, under the right circumstances, be appointed guardians of their parents’ property. Judges recognize that a person who is genuinely incapable might need a guardian, but judges are also reluctant to order that a person undergo a capacity assessment when that person is unwilling. After all, a capacity assessment can be seen as an intrusive and demeaning exercise. A perfect example of this type of fight happened in the case of Ida and Philip Abrams.
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Capacity in the Estate Context

I was invited to speak at a Law Society of Ontario CLE seminar that took place on October 30, 2012. It featured many people who I consider some of the best practioners in this area. My paper analyzed whether Justice Cullity, in Banton v. Banton, expanded the test on insane delusions. At the actual presentation, Jordan Atin, the Chair of the program, asked Ian Hull and me to address a potpourri of issues. My topics included capacity, undue influence, managing client expectations, and evidence in the context of estate disputes. Ian Hull spoke on strategy in estate litigation among other topics. At the conclusion of the seminar I received a number of requests to provide my notes or something more formal to those who enjoyed the presentation. They felt the time was short and wanted specifics of some of the source material I referred to for use in their practice. This blog is, in part, a response to those requests and provides a review and sources for my comments on capacity and undue influence.
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