Ridout Barron


Calgary Real Estate, Wills and Estates, and Business Law Blog

Disputes often follow employment termination

Ending someone's employment is typically stressful for both parties. Nobody wants to be on the receiving end of a notice of termination, but at the same time, it is mostly also an unpleasant experience for the employer who delivers that notice. If the basic rules as applicable under Alberta employment laws are not followed, disputes might develop, and if not resolved, the parties could land up in court. First and foremost, proper notice of intention to end employment must be given, both when employees quit and when employers terminate workers.

The basic rules when it comes to termination include termination pay, written notice or a combination of both. The period of employment will determine the period of notice given for termination. However, no notice needs to be provided by either party if employment terminates within the first 90 days, and the same applies for a job limited to a specific task or seasonal work.

Business disputes about asset division in a divorce

The divorce process can give rise to a variety of disputes, most of which can be resolved with the help of family law lawyers. However, dealing with the division of business assets in an Alberta divorce could be challenging, and it is a process that likely needs the support and guidance of a lawyer who has experience in business and commercial law. A perfect example of such circumstances is the recent divorce of Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie.

Although family law in Canada typically directs the business value accumulated during the marriage to be equitably divided, disputes can arise when each spouse hires an independent person to evaluate the business and the shares formally. If those valuations differ, such matters may ultimately end up in court. Having an experienced business lawyer will be crucial as it can make a significant difference in the outcome.

Can a purchase agreement on residential real estate be cancelled?

Purchasing a dream home in Alberta can be an exciting experience, and submitting an offer to buy could be one of the most significant decisions anybody will make. But what would the options be if there are issues with the house or the finances that cannot be overcome? Once both the seller and the prospective buyer have signed the offer to purchase real estate, it becomes an agreement that is legally binding and enforceable.

Exceptions exist, one of which involves conditions that are not met. If the offer is subject to the buyer securing financing, the failure to get a mortgage can allow for the cancellation of the agreement. Another condition to be met could be for the property to pass a home inspection. Failure to make the necessary considerations, such as paying the required deposit might also lead to the cancellation of the offer to purchase, but it could also lead to the seller suing the buyer.

How can a lawyer help with drafting a will?

With online options of do-it-yourself estate planning, some people in Alberta might choose this low-cost option instead of paying for the services of an experienced lawyer. However, drafting a do-it-yourself will could have an adverse and costly impact on their estates. The outcome might lead to unintended beneficiaries receiving the assets that were meant to be inherited by others.

Even if the assets go to intended beneficiaries, the legal estate costs can run into thousands of dollars, and in some circumstances, litigation can tie up estate assets for years. Those who utilize the services of lawyers for this critical task find that legal counsel will consider their unique circumstances and understand their needs. If they explain their wishes, the lawyer can make sure those wishes are carried out appropriately.

Real estate fraud catches many Alberta residents unawares

Buying, or renting a condominium or home in Alberta is typically an exciting experience, but unanticipated pitfalls exist. Sadly, real estate fraud is becoming more and more prevalent, and being aware of the tricks scammers use might prevent such incidents. Consumers must look out for red flags that might indicate title fraud, mortgage fraud and online property sale or rental scams.

Title fraud involves one person stealing the identity of the titleholder of the property and assuming ownership of it. This can be done by mailbox theft, computer hacking or dumpster diving, and the fraudster will then use the registered owner's personal information to transfer ownership of the property to him or herself, or even to sell it to another unsuspecting person. It can also be used to register a new mortgage in the name of the identity thief, who will disappear with the money and leave the real property owner to pay the mortgage.

Business and commercial Law: Recovery of scam damages

Every business in Alberta, regardless of its size, is vulnerable when it comes to scams. For this reason, it is essential for business owners to remain alert and keep their eyes open for any red flags that could prevent the typical damages caused by business scams. Fortunately, lawyers who focus on business and commercial law issues can provide valuable advice related to these issues.

The directory scam is a typical way in which fraudsters get unsuspecting businesses to give them money. This scam works better with bigger firms that have dedicated accounting departments. The fraudster will invite the company to list or advertise online or in the printed media, and then confirm the business details like the address via the telephone. The next step would be sending a bill for payment. Targeting multiple businesses will earn the fraudsters payments for services never rendered from many unsuspecting accounting clerks.

Establishing wills and estates is crucial for business owners

Although most business owners in Alberta understand that legacy planning is an integral part of protecting their assets and dealing with succession planning. Coping with the business-related complexities such as tax issues and more could be challenging. However, seeking legal counsel who focuses on establishing wills and estates can simplify the process significantly.

Important matters to consider include contingency plans for the running of the business in the unfortunate event of the business owner becomes incapacitated or dies unexpectedly. If there are other business partners or co-owners, a buy-sell agreement might have to be established, and life insurance may be required to fund such agreements. Decisions will have to be made about a successor, and if the plan is to leave the business to a family member, what provisions must be made to provide other family members with equally valued assets?

Business disputes can be resolved through arbitration

Litigation is an expensive process that could be financially devastating to any Alberta business. For this reason, many business disputes are resolved through arbitration. The primary difference between the two methods is that a judge orders the resolve in litigation, while arbitration enables the parties to find resolution through a process that suits their individual needs.

Arbitration is a voluntary process to which parties must agree in writing. Each party can have legal counsel present, and they will be in control of the procedural aspects, the choice of the location, timing and which other parties may attend. Arbitration procedures are typically informal without prescribed evidentiary and procedural rules, and it is usually a private process that will remain confidential if both parties so elect.

Keeping wills and estates current is crucial

Some people in Alberta diligently take care of estate planning at some time in their lives, but not all of them schedule the review of these documents to make sure they remain current. The contents of wills and estates are affected by life's changes and neglecting this task may render them useless. For example, a person whose brother is listed as the guardian of his or her children in the event of death may have relocated to another province, or even passed away himself, leaving no one available for this critical task.

Updating beneficiaries is another crucial task. Anyone who listed beneficiaries years ago when he or she first opened Registered Retirement Savings Plans or Tax-Free Savings Accounts might have been young and single at the time. If beneficiaries were never updated after marriage and the birth of children, loved ones will have problems obtaining those funds if something should happen to the account holder. The same applies to other investments and accounts on which beneficiaries were listed.

Consider these matters when buying a business

Many entrepreneurs in Alberta who decide to buy businesses focus on nothing other than the price. Some think the success of the purchase depends on their ability to negotiate a better price. However, the lowest possible price might not be the most critical consideration. An important question is how much of his or her own funds the entrepreneur is willing to contribute to the purchase of the business because that might provide more leverage during negotiations, and encourage lenders to offer additional resources.

A related question involves debt tolerance after using personal assets to secure financing. Will it be necessary to share control, and how much of the control will the entrepreneur be willing to give up? It is crucial to understand the structure of the financing and make sure that the debt load does not cause sleepless nights. At the same time, the vision for the future of the business must be considered.


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Ridout Barron

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