Field Law, a western and northern regional law firm, is excited to announce the launch of its 5th annual Field Law Community Fund Program (the Program). The Program supports local initiatives and causes within communities in Northern and Southern Alberta and the Northwest Territories. In 2017, the Program will donate $75,000 across all three regions....
Taking Off: Drone Law in Canada
What You Need to Know to (Legally) Operate a Drone
Did you know that people operating drones are considered pilots of aircraft? Or that the Canadian drone market is estimated to be worth between $100-$260 million by 2024? How about the fact that more than 300 Canadian companies fall within the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle sector?...
June 15, 2017
"Fiduciary Duty" as an Ingredient of the Pension "Mélange"
Why You Should Have a Will
In Alberta, if you do not have a Will, your estate will be distributed pursuant to the intestacy provisions of the Wills and Succession Act. Other assets, such as property held jointly with another person or property which has a designated beneficiary (such as life insurance or RRSPs) will pass directly to the surviving joint owner or the designated beneficiary if they survive you, and generally not form part of your estate. There may, however, be circumstances where assets are held in joint tenancy for administrative convenience but are intended to be distributed to someone other than the joint tenant.
Your Spouse May Not Receive All of Your Estate
The Wills and Succession Act prescribes that, after payment of debts, your spouse or "adult interdependent partner" will only receive the whole of your estate if all of your surviving ‘descendants’ are also the ‘descendants’ of your spouse or adult interdependent partner. ‘Descendants’ is given a broad definition under the Wills and Succession Act, and means more than just children. Therefore, if even one of your children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren are not also the children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren of your surviving spouse or adult interdependent partner - he or she will not receive the entirety of your estate.
As a general rule, all property (including money) in excess of $5,000 which a minor (under 18 years of age) is entitled to receive must be delivered to the Public Trustee. If the surviving parent wishes to manage your child’s property on his or her behalf, they will have to obtain a Court Order appointing them as trustee of the child’s property. Of perhaps greater concern is that, without a properly drafted Will, the Public Trustee will be required to release all of your child’s or grandchild’s property to him or her when they reach the age of majority - irrespective of the value of the property or his or her ability to handle money. This situation can be avoided with a properly-drafted Will.
The biological or adoptive parents of a child are presumptively the legal guardians of the child - however, you may have concerns about your child’s other biological parent or want your spouse (who may be a custodial adult through second marriage but not your child’s biological parent) to be the guardian of your child. If such concerns or wishes are not clearly expressed in a Will, they are unlikely to be honoured.
Do you want a particular child to receive all of your jewellery on your death? Is it your wish that the Guardian of your children not work outside the home? Do you want to be cremated? Do you want to designate the person who is to be the executor and Trustee of your estate? Do you want to leave a gift to a favourite charity? If so, you need a properly drafted Will. A Will is the only way to ensure that your choices regarding support and protection of your children, distribution of property, funeral instructions and any other testamentary wishes are communicated and legally enforceable.
Our Wills, Trusts and Estates department can assist you in creating an individualized estate plan, including drafting a Will which provides your Executor, Trustee and Guardian with your clear instructions. If you have a blended family which includes step-children or step-grandchildren, or you have children outside of your current relationship, you may wish to contact our Wills, Trusts and Estates department to discuss preparing a Will which properly expresses your wishes.