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Monday, April 23, 2018

Weird (but real) Canadian laws

Did you know that it is illegal to enter or leave an airplane mid-flight without a parachute? Even with a parachute, I'd think that entering a plane mid-flight might be tricky. Not that leaving without one would be a piece of cake.

It's also illegal to do anything to intentionally alarm or frighten Queen Elizabeth. Good to know for the next time you two are hanging out together.

It is, however, legal for a hotel owner to sell your horse if you don't pay your hotel bill within two weeks.

And have you ever wondered about paying your bills all in coins?  You can, as long as you follow these rules:

You cannot use more than the following quantities of change for certain amounts:
- Forty dollars if the denomination is two dollars or greater but does not exceed ten dollars;
- Twenty-five dollars if the denomination is one dollar;
- Ten dollars if the denomination is ten cents or greater but less than one dollar;
- Five dollars if the denomination is five cents; and
- Twenty-five cents if the denomination is one cent.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Can you get child support from an estate? And can an estate sue you for child support?

If you are paying or receiving child support, do you ever wonder what would happen to that obligation if you passed away? If you are the one paying, would your estate have to keep paying? A recent case in the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench has provided some confirmation of what will happen.

Whenever a case is decided by a court in Canada that touches on issues like this, we lawyers look at it to see whether it confirms what we're already doing, changes what we're doing, or clarifies some issue or outstanding question. Most of the time we hope for clarification of the facts or circumstances that will lead to a particular outcome. This is important so that we keep up with the current law but also so that we can give our clients some certainty as to the outcome of their own cases.

The bottom line with child support obligations is that it all comes down to the wording of the order or agreement that directs you to pay. If the agreement says that the support obligation continues on after you pass away, then it does. If the agreement does not say that it survives you, then the obligation to pay support dies with you.

The case mentioned above is that of Stalzer v. Stalzer. When Frank Stalzer died, he and his wife had been separated for about 10 years but had not divorced. The three children were living with Frank. His brother was named as the executor of Frank's will.

The executor brought an application to court asking for retroactive child support for all of the years that the children had lived with Frank. At the same time, Frank's wife brought an application against the estate for retroactive child support for the time the children lived with her. It's amazing how an argument can keep going even after one person has passed away, isn't it?

The judge denied both applications. He said that unless the order or agreement says otherwise, an obligation to pay child support is a personal obligation that ends when the person dies.

Also important is the fact that our Divorce Act (which applies right across the country) limits who may apply for child support. The applicant must be a spouse, not the estate of a spouse.

If you'd like to read the entire case, click here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

New podcast on Estate planning and asset protection with an estate lawyer

Recently I recorded a series of podcasts with the folks at The first one to be posted online is about joint property and how it causes problems in estates. If you'd like to listen to it (free, of course) click here. While you're there, check out their list of podcasts in other areas such as investments and retirement.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Deal with RESPs in your will

A lot of my clients own Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) for their children or grandchildren. I find that most of them don't really know what will happen to the money they are saving if they happen to pass away before it is paid out for a beneficiary's tuition. Most assume that if they pass away, the money goes to the child or children named. After all, that is what we are used to with other plans such as RRSPs. Clients are usually very surprised when I tell them otherwise!

Anyone who has an RESP set up for a child or grandchild should read this new article by Calgary lawyer Matt Trotta. He explains that the money actually falls back into the estate of the deceased owner. It is not mentioned in his article, but is also true, that all of the funds in the RESP that were the matching contributions from the government must be repaid to the government if the plan collapses, along with any income earned on those matching contributions (math nightmare, anyone?)

The key to preventing that RESP collapse is to name a successor owner of the RESP. As with any time we name someone to handle things for us, we must put our trust in them. Mr. Trotta goes on to mention the pluses and minuses of naming the successor plan owner.

When you're planning your will with your lawyer, make sure you tell him or her if  you own one of these plans so that it can be dealt with.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Alberta has an organ and tissue donor registry

Did you know that Alberta now has a registry where you can sign up to donate organs and tissue after your death? Click here to learn more about this. Seems like a great idea. Has anyone here used the registry yet?

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