Probate and Your Will

Probate and Your Will

Probate and Your Will

Have you written your will? Do you understand the complexities of probate and how to avoid it? It’s important to understand what is involved in disbursing the assets to the intended beneficiaries. If you need assistance writing a will that will avoid lengthy probate, call us at 587-410-2500 to find out how we can help.

In Canada, almost all wills are briefly probated to establish validity if there is an estate. For the purposes of this blog, we are discussing the Administration (extended probate) process necessary for those who die without a will.

Probate is the process taken on by the court to manage all of your legal and financial matters after your death if you do not have a will with a designated executor. The main problems associated with probate are time and money.

The Hazards of Probate

People who die without a will are said to have died intestate. Without a will to indicate your preferences for distributing your assets, the court will put your entire estate into Administration (probate). This will tie up all of your assets for an undetermined length of time. This time may be compounded by issues such as mortgages on a home that need to be paid, homeowners insurance for a home that is now vacant, and other expenses. The court-appointed administrator will need to ensure these payments in addition to their distribution responsibilities. During this time, probate fees are applied against the assets and can consume a significant percentage of the estate. In some cases, the estate may become completely drained just paying the expenses and related probate fees. The probate process may take up to a year.

For estates in Adminstration, the court appoints an administrator to manage the funds, pay the bills, and distribute the estate. This may not be your spouse, child, or family member. When distribution is determined, it may not be in a way that you would have preferred. Your spouse or children will not automatically get a certain percentage or an equal amount. In some cases, there are distribution plans from Provincial courts that are not at all what you would have wanted.

You don’t have to be wealthy to run into issues with Adminitration. If you have assets and you want your family to receive them, your best defense is a good offense. Write a will.

The Best Ways to Avoid Probate

Put Assets in Joint Accounts

  • Joint financial accounts are not subject to probate. The right of survivorship applies and the account will automatically go to the joint account holder.
  • Add a joint owner to home and car titles. Keep in mind that this gives the joint owner the ability to take out loans against property. Any decisions you wish to make will require their cooperation.

List Beneficiaries on Applicable Assets

  • Life insurance policies with listed beneficiaries go the person you have named and are not considered part of the estate (unless you have listed “estate” as the beneficiary).
  • Financial accounts with beneficiaries already named are not included in your estate.
  • RRSPs or TFSA with named beneficiaries are not subject to probate fees.

Reduce the Size of Your Estate

  • Put your money into registered accounts, such as RRSPs
  • Change financial accounts to joint accounts with rights to survivorship
  • Gift assets in legally acceptable amounts to your intended beneficiaries while you are alive

Write a Will

  • The best way to avoid probate fees is to write a will with the aid of an experienced wills and estates lawyer. By making your wishes clear in a will prepared by a lawyer, your estate will not be subject to a prolonged probate, especially if no-contest provisions are included.
  • Keep in mind that a will is a legal document and is available to the public during probate. Never include information that would compromise the estate, such as passwords to online accounts.

The key to ensuring that your assets go to whom you wish and that your estate not be tied up in probate is to write a will. Contact Verhaeghe Law Office to write your will today. 587-410-2500

Do’s and Don’ts of Personal Injury Law

Do's and Don'ts of Personal Injury Law

Do's and Don'ts of Personal Injury Law

If you are looking for a personal injury lawyer, then chances are that something bad has happened to you or a loved one and that you need legal representation as a result. While no one hopes to one day gain legal representation due to an injury or illness, it can happen to anyone, and you want to make sure that you make good decisions during this difficult time so that you have the right representation. The team at Verhaeghe Law Office has created a list of dos and don'ts for those searching for a personal injury lawyer.

Don't - Expect U.S. Style Settlements

Due to the pervasiveness of American media, including American style personal injury lawyer advertisements on television, Canadians can have a misguided sense of the outcome of their personal injury settlement. In Alberta, courts tend to be conservative for awarding compensation, even juries, and it needs to be noted that pain and suffering are capped at $330,000 while pain and suffering for strains, sprains, and whiplash-injuries (WAD 1 and WAD 2)are capped at $4,000 ($5,000 with inflation). You can still get a fair settlement for your injuries, but understand that this is not going to be a multi-million dollar lawsuit.

Do - Keep Exchange of Information to a Minimum

It can be tempting to talk about your case to others, especially if you have outwardly visible injuries and people are curious about them. The best thing to do is to limit what you say as much as possible and only speak to insurance companies, your lawyer, and the police. In Canada, a person in a conversation with you, as well as you, can record the conversation, so if you are asked by an insurance provider or another lawyer to talk, they can be recording you, and this can be used as evidence in your case. Always ask to have your lawyer present when discussing your case and if people ask just say that it is a matter before the court and that you cannot discuss it.

Don't - Expect to Have Your Day in Court

Though you may want to have that day in court, chances are, as with most personal injury cases, your case will end in a settlement. For a vast majority of people, this is the best case scenario. Settlements are often quite fair and help speed up the process and get you the money that you need faster. If your lawyer negotiates a settlement for you, this is incredibly common, and they have worked hard to get you compensation similar to what you would get from a judge or jury. If they recommend that you accept it, it is because they do not think you could get a better deal at a trial.

Do - Feel Free to Speak to Multiple Lawyers

Being comfortable with your lawyer is incredibly important, and so if you shop around and meet with multiple lawyers, this is fine. Research their reputations, how long they have been in business, and their standing with their professional association. Finding a lawyer who is the right fit for you is crucial to your comfort for the remainder of the case.

Don't - Expect Quick Results

Personal injury cases tend to take quite a while the more severe your injuries are. This is because part of the compensation that you receive will be determined by whether or not the damage is life-long and what ramifications that has on your wellbeing and lifestyle. For soft tissue injuries and whiplash, your healing time is much shorter, and so your case can be determined in a shorter period of time than someone who has sustained much more severe injuries.

Do - Call Verhaeghe Law Office in Edmonton

If you have suffered an injury or illness due to the negligence of someone else, then you need to contact our law office. Please note you have a two year limitation to file your claim; however, it is better to start gathering the evidence and preparing your case far before the two year deadline. Our Edmonton law firm will help you navigate the world of personal injury and do our best to get you the settlement you deserve. Contact us today.

Common Legal Issues faced by Businesses and Small Business Owners

Common Legal Issues faced by Businesses and Small Business Owners

Common Legal Issues faced by Businesses and Small Business Owners

Owning and operating a business comes with many perks but also some disadvantages - the looming threat of civil litigation being one of them. Lawsuits can cause considerable damage to your business' reputation and finances. Here are some of the most common factors that lead to legal issues for businesses:

Disgruntled Employees

Workers can form unions to increase their bargaining power against their employer to better their working conditions. This power also gives them the ability to come together and prepare a lawsuit if needed. Make sure to have a terminated employee sign documents drafted by a lawyer to ensure the terms of dismissal are clearly stated. It is essential to be familiar with workers rights to avoid inadvertently breaking any laws. Failure to do so leaves the door open for legal action against your company.

Discrimination or Harassment Cases

Whether it be sexual, age, ethnic or otherwise, discrimination in all of its forms can cause serious issues for your business. Ensure legal and human resources departments are well-suited to handle these issues adequately if they arise. When hiring, have all of the applicants' resumes on hand to prove you are making your selection regardless of ethnicity, age, or gender. Hold meetings regularly to oversee relations between employees and ensure discrimination is not occurring on a smaller scale. Office cliques should not be influencing decisions made by lower and middle management.

Sexual, racist or any other type of harassment can quickly turn a workplace toxic. Having periodic meetings to address employee concerns and reiterate company policy helps eliminate the likelihood of these offences occurring. Serious transgressions should be dealt with quickly by terminating offenders. Discrimination and harassment victims garner lots of media attention, which can damage your company's reputation and drain your budget. Be proactive by ridding your business of these problems before they start.

Immigration Audit

Make sure everyone in your company is legally able to work in Canada. Use police background checks to ensure false documents do not get past your management. Businesses found to be using illegal labour face crippling penalties.

Patent and Copyright Issues

Many companies in the tech and creative industries must deal with aggressive patent and copyright lawsuits. Be sure to do thorough research during the development phase of every project, or risk a messy legal battle should cross into a competitor's territory.

Dissatisfied Customers

Upset consumers can file class-action lawsuits by gathering a large group of customers to fight a company over broken promises, misleading services, or faulty products. These lawsuits can break your brand's image beyond repair. Be proactive about issues that arise by having sufficient tech support in place and recalling flawed products. Consumers appreciate companies that are honest about their shortcomings rather than those that try to cover them up.

Other Legal Issues

These are just a handful of the legal problems businesses face today. Several others include tax litigation and disputes with contractors and competitors. A hands-on approach and effective communication goes a long way with both employees and consumers when issues arise. For more information of how a Corporate Lawyer can help you, click here.

Please feel free to call on the Corporate Lawyers at Verhaeghe to help you with your start-up business, small business or medium to large business. We assist corporate businesses across Alberta to help them get in front of situations before they become big problems. As small business owners ourselves, we understand the challenges being faced by business owners in these new uncertain economic times. CONTACT US.

Are Companies Reckless With Your Personal Data?

Are Companies Reckless With Your Personal Data?

Are Companies Reckless With Your Personal Data?

We live in an age where technology rules both our personal and business lives. Take a step back and think of the last time you signed up for a service online and actually read the Terms of Service (TOS) and Privacy Policy (PP) before pressing “OK.” Our team at Verhaeghe Law Office is betting you’ve never read one, but you’re not alone. In a study conducted by Jonathan A. Obar from York University and Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch from the University of Connecticut, 98% of participants consented to some pretty outrageous agreements when signing up for a fictitious social network site, Name Drop. Those terms, you ask? They agreed to give up their first born child as payment, and anything the user shared would be sent to the National Security Agency.

We’re not here to scare you into reading the ToS and PP of everything you sign up for, although you should. Many times, the language used in the documents is too complicated and redundant for most people. Sadly, many people think that the worst companies will do is sell their name and email to third parties for advertising purposes. In some cases, companies will have you agree to waive your right to collective bargaining so you can’t put together a class-action lawsuit, instead you have to settle your legal issues directly with the company. We’re guessing you don’t have several millions of dollars laying around your home to use toward battling them in court over the course of a few years.

What is PIPEDA?

On November 1, 2018, the addition of the Breach of Security Safeguards Regulations to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) went into effect. This law imposes new mandatory notification obligations on companies should a breach involving consumers personal data occur. So what does this mean for you? It requires companies, even privately-owned entities, to have the right procedures, technology, and capabilities to both identify and quantify the details of the breach. With this, they must have the correct procedures in place to report breaches to the proper authorities.

What Are My Rights?

You have the right as a consumer that any identifiable information you furnish in good faith to a company will be protected. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada lists the following as personal information:

  • Race, national or ethnic origin
  • Religion
  • Age, marital status
  • Medical, education or employment history
  • Financial information
  • DNA
  • Social insurance number or driver’s license.

Companies are now required to provide sufficient information to enable a consumer “to understand the significance to them of the breach and to take steps, if any are possible, to reduce the risk of harm that could result from it.” The law states that notices to the affected individuals must contain:

  • The day on which the breach occurred
  • A description of the personal information that was the subject of the breach
  • A description of the steps taken by the organization to mitigate the risk of damages
  • A description of the steps the affected individuals can take to reduce the risk of damages
  • Contact information for the affected individual to obtain additional information about the breach.

So, while you might not read the ToS or the PP of everything you sign up for online, you can rest assured that you will be notified in the case of a breach with specific details of the incident. Along with that notification, you will receive steps you can take to reduce or mitigate the risk associated with the breach.

If you feel a company didn’t safeguard your information or if you were harmed due to a security breach, please give our team a call at (587) 410-2500. Our lawyers are experienced in dealing with cybersecurity law and we work with cyber-security experts to help lock down and safeguard our clients data.

Richard Verhaeghe has been a guest speaker for the Legal Education Society in Calgary on several occasions and has helped small businesses including other Law Firms to transition to the “Cloud” and secure their data and has written several papers on this topic.

In a time where everything is migrating to an online platform, it’s nice to have a dedicated team ready to defend your rights on the information superhighway.

What You Need to Do to File for Divorce in Canada

What You Need to Do to File for Divorce in Canada

What You Need to Do to File for Divorce in Canada
Filing for a divorce in Canada can be a lengthy and confusing process. Click here to learn the steps you need to take in order to file for divorce.

Divorce in Canada is a fact of life, as there have been more than 5 million divorces over the course of the last couple of decades.

This is a position that a lot of people find themselves because try as they might, they just can't get their marriages to work. It's important that you do all you can to make your marriage work so that if it doesn't you can leave knowing you gave it your all.

When you know that divorce is the next logical step, you've got a long road in front of you. There are a number of things you should know about getting divorced, both from a legal and personal standpoint.

Utilize these tips so that you're fully in the know on the subject.

Learn the Law and Process For Divorce in Canada

Since about 40% of all first marriages end in divorce you need to do everything you can to inform yourself of the law.

When you at least know the law, you'll have a leg to stand on once it's time to file those papers. This can be a scary thing to go through, so learning a bit more about divorce in Canada from a legal perspective will at least show you the next steps.

As you start mulling over divorce, make sure that these factors remain at the forefront of your thought process:

1. Canadian Grounds for Divorce

Before you file a divorce petition, you'll need to know which grounds for divorce to consider.

When getting a divorce in Canada, the grounds for divorce that you can claim include irreconcilable differences, adultery, and abuse. Irreconcilable differences is the most common one since divorces in Canada are no-fault.

However, you'll need to go through the process of filing all of the proper paperwork and other steps before the courts will hear your divorce case.

2. Uncontested and Contested Divorces

Since you only need to show irreconcilable differences in Canada, you can get a divorce even if your spouse doesn't want one. You filing a divorce satisfies this burden and allows you to move forward with the proceedings.

However, your spouse has a right to contest your claim if there is something in the filing that they reject. From here, they'll be able to file their own petition with the courts, at which point the judge will hear the case.

If both of you want a divorce, then this is considered uncontested. With uncontested divorce in Canada, you can fill out a joint petition with all of the terms and agreements laid out in plain language.

3. Separation and Waiting Period

After filing for divorce in Canada, the judge will look over the petition. Once they see that the two of you have proved irreconcilable differences, you will be able to move forward with the rest of the process.

In Canada, you both have to wait a year before any divorce decree will be final. This year is considered your separation period.

During the separation period, you have to live apart, or otherwise establish yourselves as separated. There are a lot of ways to do this, which is why having a good lawyer who can help document everything will be crucial.

If you are unable to immediately separate or want to give it one more shot, the courts allow you to live together for 3 months out of that 1-year separation period. After the 3 months is up, you can go your separate ways if you choose to move forward without losing any time from your separation period.

However, after that initial 3-month stretch, your separation period will be null and void if you change your mind and move back in together. If you go back and forth, you'll reset your separation clock every time thereafter.

Make sure that you're truly ready to go forward with the divorce to make sure this doesn't happen.

4. Be Sure That You Fulfill All Requirements

Before you can get a divorce in Canada, make sure you know which paperwork to file and where to file it.

You'll also need to be certain that you fulfill the residency requirements. You'll need to have lived in the place you are filing the petition for at least a year. Check into any residency or citizenship issues before filing your divorce petition.

Since you have important matters to decide in a divorce, such as splitting your assets and figuring out child custody, each and every one of these steps requires your full attention and consideration.

It would behoove you to think it over and ensure that you're aware of the laws of divorce in Canada, so you avoid mistakes and problems.

As you're contemplating getting a divorce, you need to also consider the personal aspects.

Take Inventory of Your Life, Decide if You Want to Divorce and Get Your Ducks in a Row

Getting a divorce will test your mental and emotional fortitude.

In order to come out of it with your interests and sanity intact, you need a solid battle plan and the will to go through with it.

Losing your marriage closes a chapter in your life that you thought was never going to come to an end. In order to make it through this issue in a way that allows for growth and closing the door on this previous chapter, it's important to handle it diligently and compassionately.

Consider the tips below your marching orders moving forward.

1. Talk to Some Counselors

Don't let your year separation go by without getting some serious counseling.

Whether you choose to get solo counseling or go to counseling as a couple, it is a necessary step in the healing process.

Get some recommendations from your friends and family members to be sure you are hiring a counselor that is skilled at helping you work out the problems. During the divorce and separation, be sure that you are seeing your counselor at least once per week.

Stay on top of these appointments so you can start to wrap your mind around what your life will be like following the divorce and will know that you are mentally fortified to handle it.

Since therapy can cost a bit of money, do what you can to find a counselor whose services you can afford. This may take some shopping around, but it will definitely be worth it once you find someone you can talk to that can help you process this stage in your life.

2. Seek Agreements and Closure

The most important thing you can do during your divorce is to find some agreements and cooperation when at all possible. By filing your divorce jointly, it'll be easier for you to get a quick and effective process.

Since marriage can be difficult, so too can coming up with an agreement once you are trying to end it.

Sitting down together and having some tough conversations will help you to figure out the key parts of the divorce, such as how you will handle your debt and who keeps the property. The sooner you run toward these hard conversations and determine these splits, the sooner you can get through this process.

Aside from divorce agreements, try your best to have a heart to heart that brings you closure in your relationship. You will be able to keep your sanity as you exit the marriage and will be emotionally prepared for the next stage of your life.

3. Set a Goal For the Divorce

What do you want to get out of your divorce?

Once you figure out what life after marriage looks like, you'll be able to pattern your divorce to find it. Whether this means a new one-bedroom apartment in a ritzy part of town, or holding on to property and assets you feel you're entitled to, it all starts with setting goals on the front end.

If you and your spouse are on speaking terms, come together and express the things that are most important to each of you. Put your emotions and pride to the side with each other to make it a win-win situation.

When you hold on to what's important, while conceding the other person's important wishes through compromise, the divorce process will be more seamless. If you don't feel like this is possible, definitely find legal meditation services.

By getting access to mediators, you'll have a third-party that will help you with each point until you find agreements that work.

4. Figure Out Your Child Situation ASAP

Without a doubt, taking care of your kids are the most important thing to consider if you are getting a divorce in Canada.

Your child needs both of you, so never come between that relationship despite the way your marriage ended. Getting joint custody means the two of you get plenty of time raising your kid and are cooperative as parents.

This should be the biggest priority with a divorce, since your child is the most innocent person in the whole equation. Set up agreements for school pickup and drop-off schedules, taking them to their activities and be sure that you're taking an active role in their personal life and education.

5. Watch How You Handle Money and Start Closing Accounts

You'll have some tough decisions to make with your finances.

The first thing you'll need to do is to close credit accounts that have both your names on it. A lot of spouses make spite purchases when emotions are high, so never get stuck with debt that you don't agree with.

Be sure that you open a new account that will help you to manage your spending and keep your personal finances separate.

6. Hire the Help of a Great Divorce Attorney

The best ally you will have during your divorce in Canada is a lawyer that is licensed to practice.

Your lawyer will guide you through the toughest parts of the process and will stay with you during the entire separation agreement. A quality attorney can help you to come up with a joint divorce filing whenever necessary.

This is best for you and your spouse, because it can cost you between about $1,000 and $2,500 if it's not contested, and $7,000 and more if your divorce is contested by your spouse.

7. Clear Your Mind and Stay Busy

Divorce can take its toll on your mind, body, and energy, so do what you can to find balance during this tough time.

Staying active and finding a support group will help you sort things out. Make sure that the activities that you choose help you move your body and clear your mind. You can practice yoga or meditate frequently to make sure your head is clear and that you are able to adapt to life's stresses.

It's also important that you stay organized so that you can find work-life balance. This includes keeping a schedule so that you don't miss or forget about your court hearings.

Take all the time to get back on your feet once your divorce goes through. This is an incredibly difficult time, so there's no right or wrong way to feel right now.

Following these tips will help you handle it in a way that counts.

Work Diligently For the Best Divorce in Canada

Divorce in Canada is especially difficult when you don't have a solid game plan. Thankfully, the tips above will get you started.

If you need any legal help during your divorce, contact our firm to speak to one of our attorneys.

Incorporating Your Business? Don’t Leave It To Chance!

Why You Shouldn’t Leave Incorporating Your Business To Chance

Why You Shouldn’t Leave Incorporating Your Business To Chance

Your business is your livelihood. Even though you might have started it or inherited it, incorporating it isn’t a one-off, easy task. At Verhaeghe Law Office in Edmonton, AB, we find that many small business owners assume they don’t need a lawyer to help them with so many different do-it-yourself guides out there. That can’t be further from the truth. Why? Because incorporation documents are not a one-time activity, and they lay out the structure and purpose of your company going forward.

Why Incorporate Your Business?

To understand the complexities of incorporating your business, you first should know the reasons business owners do it.

  1. Personal Asset Protection - Business owners’ private property (e.g., house, car, etc.) are protected from business debts and claims.
  2. Tax Flexibility & Incorporation Tax Benefits - Incorporating allows businesses to deduct medical insurance, travel expenses, and other daily business expenses.
  3. Brand Protection - Incorporating safeguards your brand, which is an often overlooked benefit.
  4. Perpetual Existence - This simply means that the business continues despite any change in membership or the exit of the business owner or member.
  5. Deductible Expenses - Premiums that you pay on behalf of your company for medical insurance are 100% deductible when incorporated.

As you can see, there are many benefits from a monetary standpoint and mitigating personal liability perspective. Your business becomes its own entity while you continue to reap the rewards of your hard work. That’s even more reason to ensure that you find somebody with the expertise to handle incorporating your business. It can set you and your business up in the best possible position now and into the future.

Steps To Incorporating Your Business

According to the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada website, there are five steps to incorporating your business.

  1. Naming Your Corporation
  2. Completing Articles of Incorporation
  3. Establishing The Initial Registered Office Address And First Board Of Directors
  4. Filing Forms & Paying Fees
  5. Processing Your Application

While the ISED lays out the steps, our team can help ensure that the specific needs of your corporation are met. Canada, as a whole, applies very rigorous standards when granting names, as they need to be distinctive enough that people will not associate them with another organization or business.

Next comes completing and signing your articles of incorporation, which establishes the structure of your corporation. Any amendments or changes to this document incur a $200 fee.

Then, you must establish an office address where your corporate records and official documents will be served on the corporation. Since this address is corporate information, it is required to be made public. After this is established, you must file the appropriate forms for the type of corporation you’re establishing and pay the relevant fee.

Finally, your application will be processed, but it must include these three items to be considered complete:

  • Includes all necessary documents
  • Forms are complete and signed
  • Fee is included

Provincial and Territorial Registration

As you can see, the steps to incorporating your business are quite the process. Even after you’ve completed them, you also need to register with the Province and Territory within which you do business. Typically, provinces and territories require newly incorporated businesses to register within a few weeks.

It’s important to seek the help of our team of lawyers to ensure your business is incorporated to suit your needs. The steps to achieve incorporation can be difficult depending on your business, and you owe it to yourself and the future of your company to make sure that you’re set up correctly. For more information about how we can help you, give us a call at 587-410-2500 . We have a team of corporate and commercial lawyers ready to assist you in this exciting new venture for your business.

Legalization of Marijuana

Legalization of Marijuana

Legalization of Marijuana

On October 17, 2018, marijuana became legalized for recreational use in Canada. This presented unique challenges in preparation for the new laws to take effect. Know the Rules!

Progressive Approach

In contrast to Canada’s new cannabis laws, the U.S. federal government still maintains its stance that marijuana is illegal. Many states have worked around this to allow medical or recreational use for adults of age 21 or older, but overall, the United States is losing out on the tax dollars regulation would bring. Canada’s more progressive approach allows online ordering, inter-province shipping, mail delivery, and billions of dollars in investments. We are the largest country to have legalized and regulated marijuana. But there are still issues that must be addressed and they may affect you.

Initial Offerings

The first wave of legal pot shops offers dried flowers, capsules, seeds, and tincture. The second wave, expected next year, will include foods infused with marijuana (edibles). Provinces are currently overseeing the distribution of cannabis. Many are purchasing and storing it for shipment to province stores and Internet shops. Others are supervising growers as they ship directly to privately-owned businesses.

So, What’s the Problem?

People are already worried about a shortage of legal marijuana available for sale during these first few months. Not knowing if the Cannabis Act would pass, growers did not begin projects that could have cost tens of millions of dollars… or more. New facility builds and expansions are still being completed. This potential shortage could lead to a boom in illegal sales—exactly what this new legislation was trying to stop.

Legalization of the drug may lead to an increased number of DUI drivers. Canada recently overhauled the laws for driving while impaired to include allowing roadside tests for THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Roadside testing may or may not be accurate. There is not enough evidence to determine how long THC stays in the system. If you’ve been stopped and tested positive for THC, call 587-410-2500 and talk to one of our lawyers about a defense.

What You Need to Know

Canada’s federal system has legalized marijuana consumption, but the provinces each have their own regulations. While growing up to four plants in a residence is considered legal by legislation, in Quebec and Manitoba it is banned.

Canadians crossing the border will likely be subjected to questions from U.S. border control guards regarding drug use. The border is policed by federal law which prohibits possession, distribution, sale, and production of cannabis. You could be denied entry, detained, or even banned from ever crossing the border if you admit to cannabis use. It’s a catch-22 for Canadians. Lie about ever trying cannabis and, if you don’t get caught, be admitted to the U.S (unless they don’t believe you). Or be truthful about smoking cannabis and risk being denied entry for that day or forever. Refusal to answer can result in being barred from the U.S. for life. NEXUS card holders for commuting across the border who admit to using marijuana will lose their cards. There is one way to work around a lifetime ban on entry into the U.S. Your lawyer can assist you in applying for a waiver to allow you to enter the U.S. for up to five years. Ask us about it.

Many U.S. states that share a border with Canada have adopted legislation to legalize marijuana. This muddies the waters even more with state/federal laws in opposition. You may be charged with possession or drug smuggling at border crossings even though the state you are entering has legalized cannabis. This may incur high fines and/or jail time.

Immigration Law

If you have been detained, denied entry to, or barred from entry into the U.S. due to cannabis use, consult with one of the lawyers at Verhaeghe Law Office 587-410-2500 to discuss your options.

Splitting Up in a Common Law Relationship

Splitting Up in a Common Law Relationship

Splitting Up in a Common Law Relationship

There are many reasons a couple may choose to not get married. Financial matters, personal issues, long distance, and other factors may all contribute to that decision. Many couples today don’t feel marriage is necessary and would rather retain their independence.

In Alberta, common law relationships, also called adult interdependent relationships, are defined as couples who are unrelated and have been living together for at least three years, or less if they have children together.

Navigating the legal issues surrounding a divorce can be tricky enough, but matters are complicated when the couple splitting up isn’t married.

Are you in a common law relationship and wondering about your rights in the case of a split?

Below are some things to consider.

Property Rights

Couples in common law relationships don’t have the right to division of property as a married couple would. However, through unjust enrichment and joint family venture, a court can determine how much of the property you are entitled to based on a variety of factors beyond simply the monetary contributions you made to the relationship. So, if you were a stay-at-home parent or made less money than your partner, you shouldn’t have to worry about losing all of your property in the breakup of your common law relationship.

Spousal & Child Support

Couples in adult interdependent relationships can make claims for spousal support, and they hold the same rights as married couples for child support under the Family Law Act (as opposed to the Divorce Act used to protect married couples). A judge can order a paternity test for the man in a common law couple. Our lawyers at Verhaeghe Law Office are highly experienced in helping common law partners seek the support they need to maintain their quality of life post-splitting up.

Child Custody

If the common law couple has children, the mother is automatically considered the sole guardian of the child if the father doesn’t claim paternity or make intentions to take care of the child. However, through the Family Law Act, the father can make claims for custodial rights or parenting time. In this case, the matter would be settled in court to determine custody and visitation.

Wills & Inheritance

What happens if your partner passes away without a will? Do you have a right to their inheritance? It depends on if you have children with your partner or not. If you do, you are entitled to 100% of the estate. If you don’t, but your partner had children with someone else, you are entitled to 50% of the estate. However, if your partner did leave a will, you are entitled to whatever they left you.


The last thing you want to think about while in a relationship is the potential of splitting up. But taking a few precautions ahead of time can protect both parties in the case that something goes wrong. For example, you might consider creating a contract or cohabitation agreement that details division of property, alimony, or other factors for which you wouldn’t otherwise have legal protection. Both partners should make sure they have a legal will so they can ensure their estate will be divided according to their wishes.

Contact Verhaeghe Law Office for Your Common Law Relationship Needs

Our lawyers are highly experienced in the nuances of Alberta’s common law relationship and adult interdependent partnership laws. We will defend your rights and work towards your best interests in the case the relationship dissolves. Contact us today at (587) 410-2500 for questions or to schedule an appointment.

5 Legal Tips for Small Businesses

5 Legal Tips for Small Businesses

Ways to Make Joint Custody Work

If you have an excellent idea for a business, yet have never owned one before, then one of your first stops should be to a lawyer's office. There are an incredible amount of legal loopholes that you have to jump through to open up your business, and complying with the law will keep your doors open and your reputation intact. Here are five tips when it comes to the legal side of owning and operating a business.

Budget More than You Think You Need

Legal expenses (not just fees to lawyers, but fees for licenses and registering your business) add up quickly. You will almost always be paying more than you calculated initially due to issues that may pop up and back and forth with licencing bodies. You should discuss the estimated total legal fees with your lawyer at the beginning, while will help you to budget, but understand that you will probably need more.

Get a Lawyer experienced in Small Business and Startup Law

When you are hiring your lawyer, you should consider one of two options: hiring many lawyers each with unique specializations or hiring a lawyer from a firm that has multiple specialties. If possible, it is great to have a small business lawyer represent you who works in a practice that has experts in multiple areas, so that you have consistent service from specialists who understand your case.

Get Licenced

Not having your licence, whether it is a liquor licence, lender licence, professional licence, or even standard business licence, can get you into a lot of trouble. Not being adequately licenced, just like with driving a car without a licence, can result in fines and even jail time. Some licences you can apply for before you have a business, while others you need to have a business to be able to apply for. In the interim, you cannot provide the services that your licence would permit you to provide the public. You can, however, run on a modified basis - for example, a restaurant can still serve food and non-alcoholic beverages while they are waiting for their liquor licence to come through.

Don't Forget About Human Resources

While you have to have all aspects of your legal life taken care of when it comes to running your business, you have to be compliant with all legalities surrounding your employees. You need to make sure that you pay on time and appropriately, that you are following all legal minimum standards, and have all health and safety codes in place. A lawyer can help you design your employment contracts and all codes so that they are legally binding and will hold up in court. A top business lawyer can also advise and help draft policy manuals to help avoid labour problems and work place harassment/ sexual harassment law suits.

Do What You Can While You Wait

If you are waiting for a licence to come through, or paperwork to be completed, do not sit around and wait. Get working and get your business off the ground as much as possible. Business moves fast, you have to move faster.

Legal Advice from Verhaeghe Law Office

If you need corporate law help in Edmonton then contact Verhaeghe Law Office. Our law firm has business lawyers who can help you establish your business and take it to new heights. We have helped 1000’s of start-up businesses grow to small businesses and larger. Contact us today!

Ways to Make Joint Custody Work

Ways to Make Joint Custody Work

Ways to Make Joint Custody Work

Sharing custody of your children after a divorce is stressful for everybody involved, but it can be a lot worse if you are not prepared. Having to coordinate schedules, determining when the best times are for your children to visit each parent equally, dividing holiday time, and transporting your children between houses takes a lot of work to organize. If you are in the middle of a divorce or just entering joint custody for the first time, read below to ensure you, your ex-partner and your children are prepared for this new change.

Keep a Positive Attitude

It may be hard, but having a positive attitude when you are around your children and your ex-spouse goes a long way in keeping your children in better spirits. Even if you are by yourself with your children, never talk down about your ex-spouse when they are around. Children, especially if they are young, can pick up bad feelings about their other parent based on how you talk about them. At the end of the day, having joint custody is about making your children happy, so keep their emotions in mind every time you see them.

Be Open and Realistic About Your Schedule

If you and your ex-spouse lead very busy lives, you need to make sure you both know each other’s schedule to ensure your children get equal time with both of you. If you know you will be taking a business trip in a few months, ask your ex-spouse if you can see your children a bit more before and after the trip to make up for that time. You may also need to sacrifice some leisure activities to make time to see your children. Joint custody will require a lot of compromise and sacrifice, so make sure you and your ex-spouse know major events or trips to work around your schedules.

Keep an Open Channel of Communication

To ensure you are aware of each other’s schedule and if anything last minute comes up, you need to have open communication. With today’s technology, it’s very easy to keep in contact to discuss schedules and upcoming events. You can have email chains, Google Calendars or text as ways to keep in contact without calling or talking in person.

Listen to your Children

Your children will be going through a lot of emotions during your divorce as well. You should always listen to their concerns and ask them how they are doing. You should also be aware of their schedule. If they play sports during the week, you need to make sure somebody is available to take them to their games and practices. They may also want to go to birthday parties and sleepovers throughout the year that may compromise your joint custody schedule. When your children get older, you have to be supportive of their schedules when they start working part-time jobs and participating in other extracurricular activities.

With decades of experience in Child Custody matters, please feel free to Contact Us for more information.