National Volunteer Week 2022: Highlighting Robertson Stromberg’s Community Partnerships

From April 24 to 30, Canadians celebrate National Volunteer Week (NVW2022). This year’s theme is Volunteering is Empathy in Action and honours the dedicated volunteers that bring heart to Canada’s communities.

At Robertson Stromberg LLP, we are very proud of our community involvement and our active participation as volunteers with local non-profit organizations. We have deep roots in our community, and we are proud to call the city of Saskatoon home.

Robertson Stromberg’s community partnerships have three central components – volunteer Board memberships, sponsorships and donations, and community involvement.

Board Memberships

 
Non-profit organizations are essential for building an engaged and collaborative community. Our lawyers serve on Boards as a way to support our community and to build capacity within organizations that often have limited resources.

As Board members, Robertson Stromberg lawyers volunteer their time – and provide governance expertise and oversight – to some of our community’s most active non-profit organizations and charities.

Our Board memberships include Big Brothers Big Sisters of Saskatoon and Area, CHEP Good Food, Dress for Success Saskatoon, the Law Foundation of Saskatchewan, OUTSaskatoon, READ Saskatoon, Remai Modern art gallery and Station 20 West community centre. These organizations address issues ranging from food security in the city’s core neighbourhoods to inclusiveness and economic empowerment.

As Board members, Robertson Stromberg lawyers volunteer their time – and provide governance expertise and oversight – to some of our community’s most active non-profit organizations and charities.

Sponsorships and Donations

 
Robertson Stromberg recognizes that the backbone of any charitable organization is its volunteers. That’s why we commit our sponsorship dollars to assist non-profit organizations in building capacity to support those individuals who give their time to make our community great.

Some examples of organizations we support through sponsorships and donations are the Okihtcitawak Patrol Group (OPG), the Sum Theatre and the Secret Santa Foundation. The OPG is an Indigenous created and led community-based patrol group that services Saskatoon’s core neighbourhoods. As an independent theatre company, Sum Theatre’s mission is to build community by creating inclusive experiences. The Secret Santa Foundation’s mandate is to provide a complete Christmas to 600 less fortunate Saskatoon families with children under 12.

Community Involvement

 
As a community-minded full-service law firm, Robertson Stromberg lawyers provide pro bono legal services to individuals and organizations across the province. Through the Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan (PLEA), our lawyers offer legal advice clinics at the Saskatoon Public Library. We also participate with Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan (PBLS) to provide free legal services to low-income provincial residents.

Our community involvement isn’t limited only to legal services. RS Partner Misty Alexandre volunteers as head coach of both the Comet Lazers U9B Hockey Team and the Comet Blasters U7 Hockey Team. Partner Kirsten Hnatuk volunteers as a literacy coach with READ Saskatoon’s literacy program. And, partner Kim Anderson, Q.C., is a member of the Appeals Board for Saskatoon Youth Soccer.

Let’s celebrate Canada’s volunteers together. #NVW2022 #EmpathyInAction #VolunteersBringHeart

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Candice D. Grant

Kirsten M. Hnatuk

Siobhan H. Morgan

Tiffany M. Paulsen, Q.C.

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Siobhan H. Morgan

Tiffany M. Paulsen, Q.C.

As a full-service law firm, we support advancing women in leadership roles and female representation in the legal profession.

“At Robertson Stromberg, we strive to build a culture of inclusion and representation. We believe female representation benefits our employees, our clients and our business partners. More than 50 percent of our partners are women, which reflects the strengths of both our community and our province,” says partner Tiffany M. Paulsen, Q.C.

Female lawyers at Robertson Stromberg practice in areas ranging from construction, transportation, commercial litigation, insurance and professional liability to family law, residential real estate and mediation.

On March 8, we celebrate the women who inspire us as leaders in their chosen legal careers.

Darlene N. Wingerak

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November 9 | 11:00 AM – 5:30 PM ET

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ADR Options in Estate Disputes

ADR Process Options for Resolving Disputes in Estate Related Matters

Estate disputes can sometimes become difficult and challenging, particularly when the dispute is among family members. There may be a disagreement among appointed executors as to how an estate should be administered. Some family beneficiaries may be contesting the validity of a will or revisions made to a will, raising undue influence or capacity issues. The will may be ambiguous. Initiating court processes, although this may turn out to be necessary, can escalate the conflict and sometimes have the unfortunate result of putting a strain on or potentially damaging familial relationships during the difficult time of dealing with the loss of a loved one.

There is an array of process options available to parties who have a legal dispute in estate-related matters. These include direct negotiations, mediation, collaborative law, med/arb, and court action. It is important to discuss these process options at the outset with your legal advisor when you are seeking legal advice for disputes that arise or are anticipated. This article outlines some of the benefits of lawyer-assisted negotiations, mediation, and arbitration for estate-related disputes.

Lawyer Assisted Negotiations

Your lawyer can assist with facilitating negotiation with the other party or parties to the dispute. Your lawyer will complete an intake with you to identify relevant facts and issues, advise you on the law that applies to the dispute, and provide an assessment of possible outcomes if the matter proceeds to court so you can make informed decisions. Your lawyer can assist in identifying the immediate pressing issues and reach out to the other parties and their legal counsel to see if a negotiated settlement can be reached.

Many matters can be resolved amicably through strategic negotiations with the other parties to the dispute with your lawyer either negotiating directly on your behalf or providing assistance and advice in the background.

Mediation

Another process option that parties can consider as an alternative to or during the navigation of the court process is mediation. A mediator is a third-party neutral that works with the parties to (i) identify the issues; (ii) find where common ground exists; and (iii) assist with identifying and exploring options for resolution.  In this process, the parties can have their lawyers directly participate in the mediation sessions or assist in the background as necessary to provide independent legal advice as the parties weigh options and alternatives through the process. The process is flexible. For example, through the process, the parties can agree to engage a tax accountant to assist in exploring the tax implications of possible estate distributions, or an appraiser to value an estate asset that the executors are considering distributing to a beneficiary as his or her share of the estate.

Mediation has the benefits of being confidential and flexible. The parties are actively engaged in the process and retain control over how the dispute is settled versus having a decision imposed on them.

Arbitration and Med/Arb

Parties can agree to resolve their dispute through arbitration. The arbitrator will conduct a hearing and provide a decision on the issues in dispute.

Med/Arb. is a hybrid approach that parties may consider. If the parties are unable to resolve the dispute through mediation at the parties may consider agreeing that the mediator can then act as an arbitrator in the dispute. Upon the mediator determining that the dispute cannot be resolved through mediation, the mediator would switch roles and act as an arbitrator to decide the issues in dispute. A Med/Arb agreement detailing how this process would work would be signed at the commencement of mediation.

The benefit of arbitration is the ability to customize the process to meet the needs of the parties and match the procedure required to the issues at hand. In addition, the process is kept private and confidential as between the parties which may be important where sensitive information is at hand.

Summary

Lawyer-assisted negotiations, mediation and arbitration can be conducted in person or virtually. Virtual meetings have become very common through the Covid-19 pandemic. Meetings can be structured using a combination of these meeting methods to meet the needs of the parties involved as the process unfolds.

It is open to the parties to consider all process options for resolving disputes that arise during the administration of an estate. Having your lawyer explain these process options to you can assist you in choosing what will work best for you given your circumstances and the other parties involved.

Participation in these processes can lead to the resolution of disputes in a timely, efficient, and cost-effective manner.

If you are interested in mediation or arbitration for estate related matters Robertson Stromberg LLP would be pleased to assist.  For more information, please contact Darlene N. Wingerak at 306.933.1392 or email  [email protected].

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Effect of Marriage or 24 Months of Cohabitation on Your Will – Changes to the Wills Act

The law in Saskatchewan used to be that an existing will would be revoked when the will maker married or upon the will maker cohabiting in a spousal relationship continuously for two years, unless there was a declaration in the will that it was made in contemplation of marriage or cohabitation in a spousal relationship.

This meant that if an existing will of a person made prior to getting legally married or cohabiting in a spousal relationship did not have the required declaration stating that it was being made “in contemplation of marriage” or “in contemplation of cohabitation in a spousal relationship” their will would become invalid upon their marriage or cohabitation of 24 months.

This law has now changed. Effective March 16, 2020 these sections of The Wills Act were repealed. This means a will made prior to a marriage or cohabitation of 24 months that occurs on or after March 16, 2020 will remain valid until a new will is created. A declaration in the will that it is made in contemplation of marriage or cohabiting in a spousal relationship is no longer required for it to remain valid upon a marriage or cohabitation of 24 months occurring on or after March 16, 2020.

To be clear, this change is not retroactive. A will that was revoked because of a marriage or cohabitation of 24 months occurring prior to March 16, 2020 will remain revoked.

These changes were enacted concurrently with changes to The Marriage Act which allows family members of a person to apply to court to nullify a marriage if a person did not have the capacity to provide valid consent.

It is important to have a legally valid will and to review it periodically to ensure its provisions are appropriate having regard to your life circumstances at any given point in time. When a person dies without a legally valid will in place they will be found to have died “intestate” and the beneficiaries of their estate will be determined in accordance with The Intestate Succession Act.

It is especially important to have your estate planning documents reviewed when there has been a significant change in your life such as marriage or cohabitation of 24 months so you can make necessary updates. Starting a family, acquiring significant property with your spouse or others, and dealing with added complexities of succession planning if you are an owner of a business are other examples of significant changes in your life warranting a review and update your will.

The lawyers at Robertson Stromberg would be pleased to guide you through these changes and provide you with practical advice for your estate planning. For more information please contact Darlene N. Wingerak at [email protected]

This post is for information purposes only and should not be relied on for legal advice. Please contact Robertson Stromberg LLP for legal advice concerning your case.

 

Whether it’s personal or business, we handle cases ranging from wills to overseeing complex business deals, and everything in between. Our success comes as a result of our collective effort. Combining the experience of your lawyer together with the resources of our team, you can put your trust in us to handle your case with confidence.

LawyersDarlene N Wingerak