Better Information Means Better Decisions

The following information is intended to be general and may not apply to you.

If you require assistance with a specific legal matter, contact us for further guidance.



Wills, Estates & Trusts

When should I do (or redo) my Will?

You need a Will as soon as you have:

  • Someone for whom you are responsible; and
  • Something to leave behind.

There are default designations about how your heirs will be provided for, and where your assets will go. A Will matches those things more efficiently than letting the legislation carry the day.

When we draft a Will for you, we are guessing what your family and your estate will look like at your date of death. The closer we get to that date, the better our guesses will be. Even if you already have a Will, you should read your Will at least every five years to make sure it still makes sense. If you are not sure, contact us for a review.


My assets are all in a trust. Do I still need a Will?

A trust may deal with most of your assets, but it still helps to have an executor to deal with anything that comes up between the date of your Will and your date of death (like unexpected debtor/creditor issues). It tells the court who you trust to make these choices for your estate. Without a named executor, the court will likely require your administrator to be bonded and that depletes your estate.


My assets are in more than one jurisdiction. Can one Will take care of everything?

We can put all your assets through one Will, but there may be a tax advantage to having assets in different jurisdictions go through different Wills. If you are not certain that your current arrangements will do, contact us for a review.


My Will is current. Do I need anything else?

Estate planning is not death planning, it is life planning. Your Will is only going to be used once, at your death. Between now and then, you are more likely to become ill or disabled. And if that happens, you will need a Personal Directive (so someone can make healthcare choices for you), and powers of attorney (so someone can pay your bills and manage your assets).

A proper estate plan provides for your future before it provides for anyone else's future.


My bank had me sign a power of attorney. Why isn't that enough?

The power of attorney that you signed for your bank works for your banking arrangements with that bank. Any other bank you deal with is going to want something different, likely in their own form. And the various provincial land titles registries may want something else entirely.

If you are not sure whether the document you have will work for the purposes you intend, bring it to your appointment and we can advise you.


Why shouldn't I use a free Will kit?

The only thing a Will kit is adding to your efforts is the boilerplate at the beginning and end of your Will. If you can do a proper Will using a free Will kit, then you know enough about the issues to do one without the free Will kit.

If that is all you can afford at the moment, then do it. Having a Will is better than not having a Will. If you have had it witnessed and signed properly, at the very least it will tell the courts who you trust as an executor to address any issues that may arise after your death.


Why can't I just copy my sibling's Will and change the names?

(This question came from a real client's real sibling.)

Wills are drafted to fit the intended testator.

One of you is in a common-law same-sex marriage, while the other is legally married. This affects rights of the beneficiary to challenge the Will.

One of you has a single child with a disability who may remain financially dependent on your parents beyond the age of majority. The other has two able-bodied children who are expected to attain independence. This affects your obligations to provide continued support for your children.

One of you is a self-employed entrepreneur, while the other is employed for wages. The entrepreneur as business succession issues to address, while the employee does not.

Family Law

Do you do family law?

Deccan Law Practice does not do litigation files of any kind. We don't believe litigation is a good use of our time or your money. If both parties are amicable about coming to an arrangement, we are happy to document that agreement on behalf of one of the parties. The second party will need to obtain independent legal advice from another lawyer. We are happy to refer you to one of our many colleagues to get that done.


When is the best time to do a family agreement?

The best time to do a family agreement is before cohabitation. If you discuss the issues that can spoil a relationship before cohabitation, you are less likely to have unstated expectations that will later cause you problems. The best time to solve a problem is before it becomes a problem.

If you are already cohabiting, the best time to do a family agreement is before you get married or have children. Both marriage and parenthood legally entangle parties with each other in a way that cohabitation does not. A saver and a spender are not necessarily incompatible if they have discussed how financial incompatibilities will be resolved when they arise. And it is easier to choose a resolution mechanism while everyone is getting along.

If you are already married or co-parenting, the best time to do a family agreement is now. You have had a chance to identify the things that cause you concern. Discuss with your partner how you will resolve those issues while they are still small. And write down your agreement. A good agreement is better than a good court ruling.


What are the issues that I need to include in a family agreement?

There are four issues that can be decided by the court on a separation or divorce if you have not already documented them in a family agreement:

  • division of assets, 
  • spousal support, 
  • custody & access of any children of the marriage, and 
  • child support.

You also need to redo your Will. Your Will will be probated in the jurisdiction where you reside at the time of your death. In some cases, that means your whole Will is revoked by a divorce. In other cases, only the gifts and designations to your ex-spouse are revoked. Contact us to discuss your options.


How are assets divided?

Any assets acquired during the marriage, or whose value grows during the marriage, are generally divided equally between the parties. Some assets, like those acquired prior to the relationship, are exempt from division. And there are some cases in which the courts may order an unequal division of assets, or a lump sum payment in lieu of support obligations.


How is spousal support determined?

Spousal support is now determined according to federal spousal support guidelines.


How are custody and access determined?

The courts will seek to award custody based on the best interests of the child. But courts don't know the inner workings of your familial relationships, and they will start by default with equal and shared custody unless there is evidence that would be harmful to the child.

Access is the right of the child, not the right of the parent. Unless there is evidence that it is harmful for the child to have access to both parents, courts will default to something approximating shared custody.

The issues are discussed in greater detail here.


How is child support determined?

In most cases, child support is determined according to the income of payor, and depends on the jurisdiction of the payor. The tables can be found here.


I cannot afford a lawyer. What can I do?

If you cannot afford a lawyer, you can contact legal aid and apply for assistance.

If you are low income, but do not qualify for legal aid, you can try the Edmonton Community Legal Centre or Calgary Legal Guidance.

If neither of those options work out for you, the National Self-Rep Program may have some resources of assistance for you.

Corporate / Commercial Law

I am starting a small business. Do I really need a lawyer?

There are steps we can take to protect you and your business from the risks that are specific to you, which steps can only be taken before problems arise. Seek legal advice as soon as you can. Even if you cannot implement the solutions when you are just getting started, you can start budgeting to implement them if you know your options.


How do I know when to incorporate?

Accountants will tell you that it makes sense from a tax perspective to incorporate as soon as you are leaving earnings in your business, meaning that you do not need those earnings to pay for personal expenses.

On the other hand, if your business involves litigation risk, or if you are trying to extricate yourself from personal responsibility for business debts, it may make sense to incorporate sooner than that. Contact us for further guidance.


Criminal Law

Do you do criminal law?

Deccan Law Practice does not handle criminal law files, but we do have trusted colleagues at other firms to whom we refer our clients. If you are having trouble finding a lawyer, we would be happy to refer you.

Personal Injury Law

Do you do personal injury law?

Deccan Law Practice does not handle personal injury files, but we do have trusted colleagues at other firms to whom we refer our clients. If you are having trouble finding a lawyer, we would be happy to refer you.

Real Estate / Property Law

Do you do real estate law?

We do real estate law as part of a more complete service. For most families, the family home is the single largest asset in their estate. It is important that title is registered consistently with your testamentary intentions. That is easier to do at the time of purchase, but we can remedy any issues after the fact as well. Contact us for further guidance or to schedule your transaction.


Do you do mortgage refinances?

We do mortgage refinances. Contact us to schedule your transaction.


Do you do secured transactions?

We do secured transactions between businesses, and also between individuals.

We can help to document loans between private individuals*, and also register the security in both real estate and personal assets.

*Note: It is important for you to document transactions between related parties, even if you intend to forgive them in your Will.


I am renting a house and subletting rooms to my friends. Do I need a lawyer?

A cohabitation agreement is not only for couples. It sets the rules that each party will abide by and the conditions under which a member can be expelled. And having an agreement ensures that you are all on the same page from the first day. It will keep problems from arising and make the arrangement more stable.


(Last Updated 23Nov01)

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