Am I entitled to be notified that my family member has made a new Will?

When a loved one passes away unexpectedly, the shock can be made worse by finding out that the deceased also had made a new will totally contrary to their former will.

Sometimes clients will ask me if it is legal for their loved one to make a new will, cutting out family members, or naming a new executor, all without notifying the prior executor or beneficiaries?

The answer is that yes, a person is entitled to make as many wills as they want, provided they have capacity. Moreover, there is no law requiring a will-maker to notify their prior executor, or their affected beneficiaries.

However, if you are making a new will, it is good advice to notify all of your affected beneficiaries or prior executor. Explaining what your wishes are during your lifetime, can better avoid the chance that they are later surprised by your new will, or suspicious of what motivated it.

James Steele’s preferred practise area is estate litigation, including will challenges, executor disputes, power of attorney issues, etc. Contact James Steele at 1-306-933-1338 or j.steele@rslaw.com. The above is for general information only. Parties should always seek legal advice prior to taking action in specific situations. 

Virtual court operations in Saskatchewan

Despite the availability of virtual technology, it remains impossible in many Canadian courts to file court documents online, or hold video hearings. This article argues that Canadian court systems face two options during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. First, resign themselves to pause the vast majority of civil matters indefinitely, risking the loss of public confidence, and lack of justice, which could result;
  2. Alternatively, use this time to make swift investments in e-filing systems, and video technology, to allow virtual operations to continue as normal.

The rule of law is not something that society can suspend indefinitely. In an era in which many people conduct their lives online, the legal profession should embrace virtual court processes to maintain public access to court services.

For more information, please contact:

 

James D. Steele

306.933.1365

Email: j.steele@rslaw.com

Judicial technological innovations

Closings of courthouses should be a wake-up call to adopt 21st century technology

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to daily norms in Canada. Lawyers are not exempt, and many courts in Canada have either severely reduced their case hearing schedule, or paused activity altogether. This will have a huge impact on day to day Canadians, whose lives may be waiting for decisions in family custody disputes, criminal hearings, or lawsuit seeking compensation, etc.

Canadian court systems may face a difficult time in attempting remote work. Despite the rise of the personal computer decades ago, it remains impossible in many Canadian court systems to file many court documents online, hold video hearings.

The current closure of courts reminds us that technology has the potential to revolutionize the process of serving documents, and placing them before the court.  If proper investments are made, basic technology can allow future court matters to continue remotely, and save ordinary Canadians significant time, and therefore, legal fees.

To name only two potential innovations, Canadian courts should consider the following:

  1. Allowing the majority of civil Chambers hearings (not involving live witnesses) to go forward via either telephone conference, or video conference. Massive business deals are now routinely negotiated via video, and there seems little reason why in person attendance should always be required for all court hearing;
  2. Allowing documents to be filed online, instead of requiring paper copies in physical form to be sent to the courthouse.

The Canadian legal system is not a mere luxury that Canadians can suspend for months at a time. The issue of judicial adoption of twenty-first century technology is more timely than ever, and has the potential to benefit all who seek justice.

For more information, please contact:

 

James D. Steele

306.933.1338

Email: j.steele@rslaw.com

Holding Taxpayers at Ransom

James Steele’s article on the latest target of data bank robbers – Canadian municipalities – appears in the August 2019 issue of Canadian Underwriter.  James speaks anecdotally of Canadian municipalities who have been hijacked by cyber criminals and advises municipal councils to carefully select the cyber policy that will best protect their taxpayers.

The article can be read here.

James Steele’s Insurance Article Cited in BCCA Decision

A recent British Columbia Court of Appeal decision (West Van Holdings Ltd. v. Economical Mutual Insurance Company) cited an article written by associate lawyer James Steele.

Deterrence not damages: the punitive rationale for solicitor-client costs” was published in the January 2018 issue of Canadian Journal of Insurance Law.  The reference in the decision to the article appears as:

105      The special nature of insurance contracts however does not justify the creation of a different costs regime governing all insurance claimants. This question was canvassed at some length in a recent article in the Canadian Journal of Insurance Law: James Steele, “Deterrence not Damages: the Punitive Rationale for Solicitor-Client Costs” (2018) 36 Can J Ins L 1. As detailed by Mr. Steele, there is no principled reason why a different scale of costs should apply to insureds who successfully enforce a contractual obligation than any other litigant who is forced to bring an action in order to obtain relief. Many such plaintiffs are surely as sympathetic. Why, for example, should an insured receive a full or near indemnity while the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit finds the award eroded because he or she is only entitled to a partial indemnity.

 

 

 

 

 

Lawyers James D Steele