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Archive for your lawyer calgary

Donating Organs in Alberta

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

When preparing personal directives for clients, I always ask whether they are interested in being organ donors. While not for everyone, being an organ donor means that you are willing to give a very special gift to someone you have never met. You can be certain that this gift will either save a person’s life or significantly improve a person’s life. In some cases, a single donor can save or improve several lives at once.


A very positive development in recent months is the Alberta Government’s creation on an organ and tissue donor registry. There are two ways that a person can register as an organ and tissue donor. The first way is to indicate your preference to be a donor when you go to renew your driver’s licence at an Alberta Registries office. The second way to register is to Google something like Alberta organ donor registry. Likely the first thing to come up will be the Alberta organ and tissue donation registry page. All you’ll need is your Alberta Health number. Once you have completed the online form a PDF documented will be generated. You will then print this off, sign it with a witness (no need for notarization), and mail it in to the Alberta Health address listed on the document. That’s it. That’s all you have to do to save lives.


The online form asks some specific questions about your preferences. Probably the most common preference is to donate all available organs and tissues for the purposes of transplantation. Some people may wish to only donate certain organs or tissues, and you can indicate those preferences on the form.


Other people may even wish to donate their bodies for scientific research or to assist with the education of medical students. You can indicate those preferences as well. That being said, if you wish to leave your body for scientific research or medical education, you should also contact either the University of Calgary body donation program or the University of Alberta anatomical gifts program. I have been advised by a representative of the University of Calgary program that they have other forms for would-be donors to fill out that are in addition to the Alberta Government’s online donor registry form.


If you would like to donate your organs and tissues, visit:


If you are interested in donating your body to the University of Calgary body donation program, please visit:


If you are interested in donating your body to the University of Alberta anatomical gifts program, please visit:


Some jurisdictions allow for joint wills. However, my practice is to prepare two wills, one for each spouse. I think joint wills have too many drawbacks. In particular, a husband and wife’s wishes are not always in line. For example, the husband may wish for one of his siblings to be his alternate executor, and the wife may wish for one of her siblings to be her alternate executor. In all likelihood, one spouse will predecease the other, rather than both dying at the same time. Since a joint will may be probated for the spouse who dies first, the second spouse would then likely have to do another will anyway.


Yes, purchasing US property may subject you to US estate tax. Also, if you live in the US for a significant period of time or acquire US citizenship, you may be subject to US estate tax. I would recommend speaking with a US tax lawyer before you consider purchasing US property, living in the US, or applying for US citizenship.


It is a good idea to have a clause in your will that is sometimes morbidly referred to as a “wipe-out clause”. A wipe-out clause stipulates beneficiaries in the event that your immediate family members have all died. Typically, a wipe-out clause will leave assets to parents, siblings, and/or nieces and nephews. In some cases, wipe-out clauses will leave assets to friends or charities.

Can you do a living will in Alberta?

Monday, December 9th, 2013


In Alberta, the legal term used for this is a personal directive. Personal directives are an important part of the “estate planning” process. In a personal directive, you typically appoint one or more representatives, and indicate what your medical wishes might be in the event that you cannot communicate your wishes at a later time.

Is a will valid if I commit suicide?

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Potentially, yes. The simple act of suicide doesn’t invalidate a will. However, if your suicide suggests that you weren’t mentally competent, or were under duress, at the time you wrote your will, then your will might end up being challenged.