Illicit Black Market Cannabis Dealers On The Rise

Illicit Black Market Cannabis Dealers On The Rise

Illicit Black Market Cannabis Dealers On The Rise

As of 17 October 2018, recreational use of cannabis was no longer considered a violation of criminal law. The legalization fell under the same regulation to how alcohol is controlled in that it limits home production, distribution, consumption areas, and sale times. Although there was a deregulation of cannabis, there was a strengthening in punishment for those supplying the substance to minors or driving while impaired.

After the new year turned over, online sales of cannabis have taken off, but not in Alberta. That hasn’t stopped some black marketers from using the platform. Legal cannabis retailers are calling on the government to crack down on the black market. It’s unforeseen, and illegal, competition that is undercutting the considerable investment legitimate businesses have made to offer cannabis products to the public. The issue is, black marketers within the province are openly operating online with little repercussions, while certified businesses in the province are barred from using the platform to sell and distribute their products.

On the other side, black marketers have indicated that their product helps ease the supply shortages because the demand is so plentiful right now. Federal Minister, Bill Blair, stated recently that the best weapon against the $16-billion black market is successful legalization that ensures competitive prices and safe products. He added that he’s confident that nearly 50% of cannabis sales now are legal.

However, that hasn’t helped quell the concerns from legal retailers who believe that not enough is being done to address those who are skirting the law. Conversely, business owners believe that opening up the law to allow online sales will help them better compete and drive out those who are illegally providing the substance. Perhaps, as alluded to before, the problem lies in the supply.

Oversupply Could Carry Its Own Risks

Industry experts purport that while there is a shortage now, that won’t be the case in two years if licensed producers (LPs) execute their business plan. LPs are worried about this phenomenon because it’ll mean a drop in prices in cannabis at retail, which will ultimately drive down their profits at wholesale. Regulators, LPs, and retailers all agree in saying that a stable, cost-competitive supply will push out the black market, which for now is flourishing. At the end of 2018, illicit sellers held 80% of the market, so you can easily see certified retailers have ground to make up.

The Alberta Gaming, Liquor & Cannabis (AGLC) plans to issue five new licenses every week if the supply keeps increasing. There was a stoppage after only 20% of the marijuana Alberta had ordered delivered. Alberta remains the leader with more than 100 cannabis stores open province-wide, with sales back in March in Alberta reaching more than $14 million in a quickly growing industry that hit $60.5 million nationwide that month.

At Verhaeghe Law Office, we stay updated on all developing law trends for our clients. For more information about us or if you need legal representation, please contact Verhaeghe Law Office at 587-410-2500

Divorce From a Man’s Perspective

Divorce from a Man's Perspective

What is Alternative Dispute Resolution

Divorce is a difficult life event for all parties involved. More men in recent years have been pushing for equal rights when it comes to child custody and other aspects of a divorce. Both men and women face repercussions during and after a divorce, but they can minimize the damage they do to their lifestyle, children’s lives, and assets. This traumatic event often clouds judgment, causing individuals to react emotionally and not always use facts to back their side. This is the second part of the two-part series exploring the women’s and men’s perspective on divorce. If you’re considering a divorce, call Verhaeghe Law Office at 587-410-2500 for a consultation to ensure your understanding of the divorce process.

Don’t Use Children As Leverage

A judge will grant custody to the parent who nurtures and fosters a positive relationship between the child and the other parent. In the end, the judge will rule in the child’s, not the parents’, best interest. Using your child to harm your former spouse’s feelings or to further your financial goals will be looked down upon and will be used against you.

Neglecting Family Duties

Being in divorce proceedings isn’t a ticket to not continue supporting your family. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. This is a time to ensure all of your finances are in order and that everybody is taken care of financially and emotionally. If you’re the breadwinner in your family, your financial responsibilities don’t end after filing. Meaning, you still need to help pay for utilities and mortgage for the marital home and keep up insurance coverages before the divorce is final. Cutting off support will do you no favors in the judge’s eyes.

Hiding Your Assets

Any attempt to hide assets will result in expensive litigation that could put you on the hook for your former wife’s lawyers’ fees as well. Being open and transparent about your finances evokes trust and that you’re willing to work through the issues. Hiding them has the complete opposite effect.

Don’t Be Indecisive

If you’ve been served divorce papers, this is a serious matter that you can’t just shrug off. Many studies have shown that most men don’t emotionally respond in the same way as women. Men will bottle it up, but again, this is the exact opposite of what you should do. Failing to act can have devastating consequences. Your wife and her lawyer are building a case and whether you’re ready or not, proceedings will take place. We can help prepare you for the road ahead.

You Have An Opportunity

Don’t believe the myth that as a man you will have less leverage over your wife in any part of the divorce process. Your best advantage during a divorce, a division of property, spousal support, and child custody is to hire an experienced family court lawyer. We have worked in many cases that have given men what they have needed to move on in their lives. Our team understands that the entire divorce process from beginning to end is challenging, but hiring Verhaeghe Law Office and showing you have the best interest of your family in mind will assist in getting the closure you crave.

Pet Custody Disputes in Divorce Proceedings

Pet Custody Disputes in Divorce Proceedings

Pet Custody Disputes in Divorce Proceedings

Those of us who are lucky enough to own pets, understand how pets eventually become an integral part of the family unit where we can develop strong emotional attachments with them. But what happens to pets when couples decide to separate and/or divorce? Individuals who are either contemplating or are pursuing a divorce may be shocked to find out that governing family laws in Alberta regard pets as property. The Family Law Act entitles both spouses to equal rights when it comes to family property. This entitlement extends towards things such as land, shares, money, financial plans, partnership interests and more.

While there is no legislation that definitively governs the division of pets – the courts have witnessed an increasing trend where people see their pets as more than just a possession or property. The Province of Alberta’s Matrimonial Property Act allows the courts to decide how property is divided between divorcing spouses. When divorcing couples cannot agree on who claims custody or ownership of the pet(s) after a divorce, the courts will take numerous factors into consideration when deciding matters on pet custody disputes.

For example, the courts will consider things such as whether the pet was brought into the relationship prior to marriage where it may be considered as excluded property and will remain with the individual who originally purchased the pet. If, however the pet was purchased after marriage – the courts will look at things such as who paid for and contributed most to the care of the pet both financially and physically. In Telep v. Telep 2012 BCSC 2092 – both parties had two dogs. The judge ordered that both dogs be given to the husband because the judge believed the husband had a more of a sincere emotional attachment to the dogs. In both of these situations, the laws are not determinative and many of the factors that go into making a decision in these matters can be challenged.

The courts do recognize that under some circumstances, pets may be equivalent to children for certain couples. In situations such as this, the courts will either recommend joint custody or encourage both parties to come to an amicable solution on their own. The agreed upon solution may be in the form of a written agreement that satisfies both spouses and would include things such as visitation schedules and rules regarding how costs for pet care will be shared.

For example in Boulet v. Rushton 2014 NSSC 75 – the court dealt with the divorcing couple’s dogs by creating an access schedule that both spouses had to abide by. Boulet was considered the primary caregiver of the dogs and Rushton would have care of the dogs two days a week. The Court of Appeal has seen cases brought forth where couples disagreed with pet custody matters and this is something that can be very costly as well as avoidable. Having legal counsel on your side with respect to your divorce proceedings may help reduce or eliminate pet custody disputes before they even start.

What makes pet custody disputes rather challenging is that sometimes it is difficult for the courts to understand the emotional attachment humans can have with their pets. Furthermore, because there are no definitive rules when it comes to pet custody – the courts generally will recommend both parties come to an amicable solution on their own. That’s why we recommend seeking legal counsel if you and your partner/spouse cannot come to an agreed upon solution with respect to your pet(s).

If you find that you and your partner or spouse cannot come to an amicable solution on your own with respect to the custody of your pet(s) – we recommend you contact an Alberta based family lawyer who can help resolve your pet custody dispute amicably as well as timely.

At Verhaeghe Law Office – our Edmonton divorce lawyers have helped numerous clients who have been embattled in pet custody disputes. We understand that pets are considered family and will work towards an expeditious solution with respect to your pet custody dispute. Contact us for a consultation today by calling 587-410-2500 and speak directly with an Edmonton divorce lawyer regarding your pet custody dispute.

*Please note the content in this blog does not constitute legal advice as every case is unique from one another. We encourage you to seek legal advice for answers to your divorce and family law questions.

How to Find a Reliable Wills and Probate Attorney in Canada

Impaired Driving

How to Find the Best Wills and Probate Attorney in Canada

Impaired Driving

If you're taking on the role of an executor, you may want to hire a probate lawyer. Here's your guide on how to find the right probate attorney near you.

A deceased person leaves behind properties which can be a fortune or a headache for the surviving family members. It's important to have an prepare a Last Will and Testament which names and executor or executrix to help distribute your estate and settle your debts after you are gone. It's also the role of the executor to fulfill your last wishes regarding the disposition of your property and make final funeral arrangements.

Estate executors do not have to be lawyers or financial experts. However, they have a fiduciary duty to act as per the will of the decedent.

There are delicate legal and financial matters involved in fulfilling the directives outlined in the will. Dealing with courts and legal papers and filing estate tax returns can be confusing to nonprofessionals. It is important for executors to hire qualified wills and probate attorneys to oversee the process.

Keep on reading to learn more!

Roles of a Wills and Probate Attorney

The administration of a decedent's estates goes smoother when he or she drafts a will before passing away. In such a case, a probate lawyer can offer legal counsel to the executor or beneficiaries of an estate. For instance, the attorney can scrutinize the will and determine whether the deceased person wrote or signed under pressure.

For example, people with interest in the properties of an older adult with dementia can take advantage of them. A probate lawyer can help discover whether someone manipulated the will or forced the decedent to sign it.

Most probates go unchallenged apart from a few instances where they face objection. Examples of such situations are claims of forgery, inadequate witnesses, or if the provisions of the will contradict the law.

Apart from defending or challenging wills, probate attorneys can help executors with the following tasks.

  • Guidance on how to pay the decedent's bills and debts
  • Preparation and filing of documents as per the probate court
  • Determining whether there are any estate taxes owed
  • Management of the estate's checkbook
  • Collection and control of life insurance proceeds
  • Appraisal of the decedent's property
  • Finding and securing all the assets of the decedent

If the decedent happens to have died intestate (without a will), intestacy rules govern the distribution of the estate. The laws are government-imposed and this will fall into the category of Administration of Will instead of Probate of Will. Another scenario is when the executor or executors have died before (pre-deceased) the Testator of the Will (decedent). In this case, the Probate Lawyer will apply for Administration of Estate With Will Annexed.

If the deceased person left a surviving spouse but no descendants, the entire estate goes to the spouse. In the same way, the estate goes to the surviving descendants if the decedent does not have a living spouse. According to the Wills, Estates and Succession Act, the term descendant refers to all descendants in the deceased person's lineage.

Distribution becomes a bit complicated if the deceased person leaves a surviving spouse and descendants. Whichever the scenario, a probate lawyer should help the administrator to share the assets according to the intestacy rules.

Your Lawyer's Responsibilities

A probate attorney can help the estate administrator (no will) in a similar way to an executor. However, the lawyer cannot disregard intestacy laws irrespective of the intentions of the decedent, the surviving spouse, or descendants.

A person who intends to become an estate administrator has to get renunciations from the decedent's relatives. These are statements which ascertain that the descendants have endorsed the administration of the assets to the individual.

A probate attorney facilitates the process and files the renunciations with the court. The lawyer can also help the estate administrator with probate processes like securing assets, estate checkbook management, and determining estate taxes.

Types of Probate Lawyers

There are two general categories of probate attorneys. Transactional probate lawyers deal with the administrative aspect of probates. Probate litigators represent their clients in probate cases.

Some wills and probate lawyers handle the two sides of probates. However, it is wise to find an attorney who specializes in the service you want.

Consult a transactional probate lawyer if the decedent passed away recently and you are looking to begin the probate process. Attorneys with experience in estate planning and trusts may be a perfect match for you.

A probate litigator can help solve a dispute regarding the will in court. The lawyer can also represent you if you are dissatisfied with the conduct of your current executor or probate attorney. A litigator will also be suitable if you expect to face further legal battles concerning the estate.

Your lawyer should have experience in probate matters and must have represented many clients. The attorney should know whether an action taken would infringe the laws governing a different discipline. If the estate in question is extensive, you might need a probate lawyer conversant with real estate law.

How to Find a Wills and Probate Lawyer

One of the best leads to a reliable probate attorney is referrals from trusted people. Friends and colleagues can help you to populate a list of experienced lawyers from your region. Testimonials work best as they prove the attorney's success in probate issues in the past.

If you can't get recommendations, perform an online search focusing on your area. It's upon you to do due diligence to single out a competent probate attorney from the results. Look at the websites of individual law firms and contact the offices.

Once you have several prospective attorneys, begin the vetting process to select the most appropriate candidate. You can use the following criteria.

1. Qualification and Experience

Search for the biography of the potential lawyer with an emphasis on educational background and area of expertise. Aim for an attorney with evidence of skill in probates, trusts and estates, and estate planning. You should also insist on a lawyer with a considerable period of practice.

2. Reputation and Track Record

Research in depth on the attorney and his or her office. An online search for reviews can yield useful information. Read widely and get different opinions to avoid the influence of biased reviewers.

Study the content posted on the firm's website or blog to have a sneak peek of the lawyer's mastery of probate issues. Check if you can find any complaints and see how the attorney has responded to them.

3. Membership in Associations

Check if the lawyer is a member of local and national associations for law professionals, especially in the probate line. Confirm that the candidate features in the bar of association and check their stand.

4. Other Certifications

Be sure that your probate attorney is licensed to practice in your country. Further certifications are proof of extensive experience in the indicated areas of law. Focus on estates, trusts, or estate planning.

5. Retainer Agreement

Get a copy of the lawyer's retainer agreement for payment details before committing yourself to the contract. Ask for the attorney to elaborate all the details for you to understand the charges you should expect. This is to avoid unpleasant surprises when it's time to pay for the services. In Alberta, the Courts have a established as a rule of thumb that Probate Lawyers can charge a base fee of $2250.00 plus 0.5% to 1% of the gross value of the estate for core legal services; which may vary depending on the complexity and size of the estate. There may be fees once the Order of Probate or Order of Administration is issued for non-core services such as distribution the estate, real estate transfers, follow-up correspondence with financial institutions, etc.

6. Unique Needs

Based on the circumstances surrounding your probate requirements, you may have to hire an attorney with specialized skills. For instance, you may have to deal with parties who speak a foreign language. The lawyer should then understand the dialect.

7. Communication Skills

Some lawyers are so into law jargon that their clients get what they are saying. Don't hire someone if you can't understand them and they don't take time to explain themselves. The lawyer has to acknowledge that you are not an expert in law.

If you are a first-timer executor, you will probably want to do some of the processes by yourself to learn. You can also do this to save on the fees. A good lawyer should understand and respect that.

8. Location

Your probate attorney does not have to be from your area. However, having the lawyer close to your residence will make it easier for you to meet.

If your estate owns properties in various jurisdictions, the lawyer should seek to have the Will sealed once Probate has been granted in the home jurisdiction then transferred to the outside jurisdiction (province) for probate in that area; this process must resonate with the laws of each province and be limited to the respective assets.

9. Conflict of interest

Do not hire a lawyer who has a conflict of interest in the probate. This may cause distrust and result in disputes and acrimony. Your role as an executor should not end up breaking family ties.

For instance, a lawyer who is also a beneficiary of the estate can look for ways to maximize his or her share. Again, even if the attorney acts with decency, some descendants may still think there was some meddling.

10. Integrity

An attorney needs to have values like integrity, wisdom, and skill. The job is not easy, and it doesn't rely on luck. Lawyers possess an enormous power which can be disastrous if misused.

A compromised attorney can bend the law to favor some of the descendants. Ensure that the lawyer you are hiring is trustworthy and has no known integrity issues.

Preparing to Meet Your Potential Lawyer

After screening the list of attorneys you obtained, you can remain with three of your best match. Ensure that you have a face to face interview with each of them before getting down to business.

You have to create a relationship with the attorney because you will be revealing sensitive information to them. The probate will involve large sums of money, and it will take some time. Therefore, you want to be comfortable with the lawyer you choose.

Some attorneys charge an upfront consultation fee while others offer free service. Be careful not to fall for unscrupulous lawyers as you chase a discount. You may have to set a budget for meeting with several candidates to get the best.

Successful attorneys are always busy, so you may have to book an appointment with them. If the lawyer you are targeting asks you to wait until a particular day, take your time.

However, you shouldn't keep waiting if the lawyer keeps on postponing the appointment. That could be an indicator that he or she won't be able to dedicate enough time to your probate. Find another one.

It is not unusual for lawyers to assign their legal assistants some of the responsibilities. You may have to work with someone else in some instances, but your lawyer should make it clear. Your relationship with them should determine if you should continue with the contract.

Interview with Your Probate Attorney

When you meet with your candidate for the first time, be frank that you are interviewing a few others. Let them know that you don't have a deep understanding of estate planning and trusts. An experienced lawyer who has done it for years can skip the basics and go straight to complicated subjects.

There are many questions you can ask a probate attorney depending on your situation. Below are some of the typical queries.

  • How long have you been practicing probate law and how many cases have you closed?
  • How do you charge for your services?
  • As an executor (or administrator), which areas of the probate can I handle without your intervention?
  • Our estate has offshore property. Can you carry out the probate process there? If not, can you recommend someone?
  • The decedent named another descendant and me as his estate co-executors, but my partner is not willing to get involved. Can I proceed anyway?
  • Who will prepare the decedent's final tax and estate tax returns?
  • How long will the probate process take, approximately?
  • How much do you think this probate will cost?
  • How much can I charge as executor of the estate

This is your opportunity to scrutinize the abilities of the attorney. Make the best use of it. Ask all the questions you think about to have a mutual understanding with the lawyer before hiring.

Probate Lawyer - Final Thoughts

Finding a local competent probate lawyer can be tricky if you are handling estate distribution for the first time. This guide outlines the steps and tips for selecting your best fit.

Most administrative and litigation processes for probates are straightforward for attorneys. They involve routine paperwork. However, they can become complicated if someone raises a dispute, or there are many beneficiaries to consider.

People without experience in financial and legal matters can face challenges if they don't seek legal counsel. A misguided action can have serious consequences. A reputable probate attorney can oversee the entire estate distribution process on your behalf.

Do you have any question? Just reach out to us, and we'll be happy to help.