Ridout Barron


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

Termination: Lost wages and disability payments?

Employees in Alberta who were dismissed and then became disabled during the termination notice period might have questions about their rights when it comes to payment for lost wages. A recent decision made by The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench provides clarity about the termination of employment with a reasonable notice period. The court found that double dipping is not allowed.

The case arose when a man sued his former employer for wrongful termination, claiming payment for lost wages during the notice period. The man was 64 years old, and he sought severance pay for 24 months. He then became disabled during his notice period and started receiving disability benefits to which he was entitled until age 65. The legal point is based on a principle of the employee being entitled to the same remuneration as that to which he or she would have been entitled had there not been a reasonable notice period.

On what grounds can a will be challenged?

Losing a loved one is understandably traumatic, and it could be even more difficult for a surviving loved one to learn that he or she was unfairly treated or disinherited by the deceased. There could be many questions about contesting the will and not a lot of time in which to take action. Learning about the steps to take under Alberta laws will be a time-sensitive matter to deal with before the estate is settled.

If it can be shown that the deceased lacked the necessary mental capacity when he or she made the will, there would be grounds to contest the will. This could be an issue if sudden changes were made shortly before the person's death. The person might have become mentally incapacitated, causing him or her to change the will without understanding his or her assets, obligations and the effect and nature of a will.

Understand the responsibilities of an estate representative

When a person in Alberta does estate planning, he or she usually nominates a trustworthy person as the executor of the will. This is also known as an estate representative whose task it will be to administer the estate of the deceased person. It could be a daunting task, and it might be sensible to consider the implications carefully before accepting to play that role.

The responsibilities of an estate representative include making arrangements for a funeral and burial, locating the final will of the deceased person, and locating and communicating with all the beneficiaries mentioned in the will. Estate fees will have to be paid, and appraisals to determine the value of the estate will have to be arranged. It will also be the task of the executor to apply for probation to validate the will by the court and deal with final income tax returns. All debts will have to be paid, and the settlement of the estate according to the will must be carried out.

Real estate: Why seller financing could be a scam

When property deals in Alberta involve seller financing, it might be a red flag. In real estate, seller financing opens up opportunities for sellers or agents to commit fraud. This option involves the seller offering the property for sale with the buyer making monthly payments. If the seller owns the property outright, it could be compared to a rent to own transaction, in which the buyer could ultimately own the property. Otherwise, the monthly payments would be used to pay the existing mortgage, but this in itself is fraud because the mortgage holder owns the property until it is fully paid, which means the property could not be sold.

However, it could be a seller's scam in which the real estate is offered with seller financing to attract a buyer who might struggle to secure a mortgage. In this scenario, the property owner has a mortgage but fails to remit the buyer's monthly payments into that account. The bank or lender has no interest in the buyer, and when the seller defaults on mortgage payments, the bank forecloses, and the buyer would have lost all payments made and any interest in the property.

Employment contract disputes can arise from non-specific language

A recent decision by the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench might give employers several things to consider. Employment contract disputes can be costly and time consuming. In this case, an employee filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against his employer, and an unpaid performance bonus formed a part of the claim.

According to court documents, the man was employed as the sales manager of a store, starting in Jan. 2015. His employment contract included a performance bonus of 2% on increased sales exceeding a specific amount. He received the bonus for the period Jan. 2015 through Feb. 2016. However, the worker's employment was terminated with cause in Oct. 2016. His employer did not pay the performance bonus for the period between February and Oct. 2016, claiming that the man was not entitled to receive the bonus because this period was less than 12 months.

Commercial law disputes can harm any business

When a business in Alberta becomes involved in disputes with consumers, the damage it can cause can have severe financial consequences. Allegations may include franchise disputes, breach of contract, misrepresentation, fraud or unfair business practices. The sensible thing to do would be to prevent such problems, and if they do arise, it is best to seek legal counsel to assist with resolving the issues.

Some of the steps to prevent commercial disputes include making sure that advertising and sales pitches are accurate to avoid accusations of misrepresentation. Business owners can make sure their sales personnel provide consumers with all the necessary information and are ready with answers to all questions of customers. No one should ever convince a customer to sign a blank contract, promising to fill it in later.

Why are formal wills preferable to holographic wills?

Although drafting a holographic (handwritten) will seems the more cost-effective way to handle estate planning in Alberta, it might be exactly the opposite. The costs of having these wills interpreted by lawyers and the courts are typically significantly higher than the costs of formally drafted wills from the onset. This also applies to the preprinted will kits that are available online.

A holographic will is one that is written by hand in a do-it-yourself manner. If it contains the signature of the testator, it is allowed under Alberta laws. However, if such a will is typed and signed by the testator, the court will not regard it as a legal document. However, a holographic will needs no witness signatures.

The crux of commercial real estate lies in contract negotiation

For tenants and landlords in Alberta, the critical point is skillful negotiations. This is a particularly important part of deals that involve commercial real estate. In far too many cases, the eagerness to sign a contract can make the agreement a less profitable experience for that party.

A crucial aspect of the negotiation of real estate leases or rental agreements involves restoration clauses. While residential contracts typically expect tenants to ensure that property is in the original state when they leave, commercial real estate deals are significantly more complicated. Restoration stipulations are not usually built into these contracts and are left to negotiations because of the different needs of tenants.

Labour law overhaul leads to more harassment reports

Many workers in Alberta might have become more aware of their rights after the former NDP government overhauled occupational health and safety codes and employment standards. New legislation spelled out new rules related to workplace harassment and violence. This made workers aware of the process by which such incidents could be reported anonymously.

During the 2017-2018 period, 315 employment standard violations were reported. With the anonymous tip line in place, almost three times that number, 811 incidents, were reported in the 2018-2019 work year. The Department of Labour reportedly took several steps to improve the monitoring of complaints and also resolving issues.

Civil litigation: Steps to recover owed money

Alberta business owners who have problems with collecting money owed to them might have questions about the most appropriate steps to take. The first instinct might be to sue the debtor, but seeking legal counsel first might be a good idea. Civil litigation can be time consuming and expensive, and there could be other legal ways to pursue the recovery of outstanding debts.

Debt claims can include unpaid loans, breaches of contract, default rent payments and damage deposits. Before suing, giving the other party a written demand letter might have the desired result. The letter must state the owed amount, the deadline for settling the debt and to whom the payment must be made. It can also include a notice to advise the other party that failure to pay might lead to a civil lawsuit.


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