Wills + Estate Planning
Wills + Estate Planning
News + Views + Events

Many people understand the importance of having a Will but not everyone is aware of the benefits of retaining a lawyer to draft and finalize a Will. The security you gain by hiring a lawyer goes beyond knowing that your Will meets technical requirements and will hold up in the face of challenge. You will also know that you have explored the full range of issues that a Will can address and understand how it fits into the context of your broader estate planning.

Our Wills, Estates + Trusts Team can advise you on how to most effectively arrange your affairs to avoid unnecessary probate taxes or litigation and to ensure your loved ones, assets, and business interests are protected in the event of death or incapacity.

Some of the services we offer include:

  • Multiple Wills to avoid or minimize probate tax
  • Mirror Wills for spouses
  • Trust planning
  • Special-needs planning
  • Charitable giving
  • Retirement planning
  • Business succession planning
  • Estate-related real estate planning
  • Incapacity planning

When we meet with you, we will review your particular circumstances and make recommendations regarding what should be included in your Will such as:

  • Testamentary trust provisions
  • Appointment of guardians for minor children
  • Identification of an estate administrator, or executor, for the estate
  • Special provisions for asset distribution, such as charitable donations
May 2020 - 1 min read
Remote Witnessing of Wills, Enduring Power of Attorneys, and Personal Directives Arrives in Alberta
Alberta’s Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General has announced a process for remote witnessing and signing of wills, enduring power of attorneys, and personal directives during this time of public emergency. Temporary amendments have been...
March 2020 - 2 min read
A Question of Priorities (If You Want to Administer an Estate)
Appointing a personal representative is one of the first substantive things addressed in a Will and one of the key choices a person can make with respect to their estate plan. When a person dies without a will, someone must apply to the Court to obtain...
March 2020
Sticky Situation: Sticky Note Will Accepted by Alberta Court
While our office remains open during the escalating global coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in Alberta, we have taken steps to minimize the potential impact of the virus in accordance with our firm’s business continuity plan and th...
May 2019
Estate Planning for Privacy
The Supreme Court of Canada may soon be considering the intersection between estate and privacy law as well as the public policy behind the “open court” principle.  The personal representatives of the estates of murdered Canadian billi...
May 2019
Act On Your Legal Obligations to Avoid Post-Death Disputes
A recent case from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Birnie v Birnie, 2019 ONSC 2152, has several important lessons for Canadians when it comes to estate planning.  The case is an important reminder to be aware of your existing legal obligati...
June 2018
A Star Extinguished: Anton Yelchin (1989-2016)
Two years ago to this day, a promising young actor's life was cut short by a tragic accident at his Los Angeles home. Anton Yelchin, age 27, was killed in his driveway when his SUV rolled back and pinned him against his security fence and mailbox. ...
April 2018
Is Spousal Support Available After Death?
Perhaps encouraged by the recent decision in Marasse Estate, we have another recent case from the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench addressing an estate’s ability to claim spousal support and its liability to pay spousal support. Stalzer ...
November 2017
It’s Your Funeral, but Who Calls the Shots?
If you have a will, you may have spelled out your detailed wishes for your funeral in the document. Would you be surprised to know that your personal representative does not have to follow them? You may have also heard that funeral expenses g...
November 2017
My Last Will and Textament
What would you look for in a document to determine if it was a legally valid will? An Australian man’s estate recently made headlines when the Queensland Supreme Court admitted an unsent text message into probate as his valid last will.The d...
June 2017
Define Your Children in Your Will
Clarity matters when preparing your will and estate plan in Alberta. Even a seemingly simple direction to divide your estate equally between your children may run into unexpected problems if you have a complex family structure and are not clear enough ...
June 2017
The King of Pop on Death and Taxes
Today is the eighth anniversary of the death of Michael Jackson, the undisputed King of Pop. Albertans preparing wills and estate plans should look beyond the sensational headlines about the singer’s life and the circumstances of his death a...


What is probate?


Simply put, it is a legal process for determining that the Will is valid. It confirms the authority of the person appointed in the Will as the executor to be able to carry out the administration of the estate in accordance with the terms of the Will.


What is the probate process in Alberta?


The named executor will be required to submit to the Court the deceased’s original Will, along with a number of other Court approved forms, providing information about the deceased, the beneficiaries and the assets and liabilities of the estate. After a few weeks, the Court will issue a document called a Grant of Probate (or a Grant of Administration if there is no Will). This document is proof of the executor’s authority to be able to deal with banks and other agencies such as land titles offices, in order to administer the deceased’s assets. A probate lawyer can help you identify any potential issues your particular case may need to address and help you avoid unnecessary delays.


Do all estates require probate?


Not every estate will require probate. Assets held in joint ownership with another person will often not require probate if the deceased’s intent was for those assets to pass to the surviving joint owner upon death. In addition, assets such as RRSP’s or life insurance, where a beneficiary is designated, will not require probate. An executor should check with financial institutions and other third parties who hold estate assets to determine whether they require a Grant of Probate prior to releasing the assets.


Disclaimer: The above information is intended to provide commentary on frequently asked questions in this area of law and should not be interpreted as providing legal advice.  Please contact a group member before acting on any of the information.