LCO launches 12th final report

Last Thursday, November 19th, the LCO released our latest final report, on a simplified procedure for small estates, to a crowd that included advisory group members and others who had helped see the project through to this stage, LCO Board members and staff, and other friends of the LCO.

The project was designed to address the reality for many people who are responsible for administering small estates that often the value of the state simply doesn't justify probating it, particularly if they require (as most people do) a lawyer to help them. As a result, if they can, the estate administrator simply distributes the assets or, if they cannot obtain release of assets, abandons them.

We set the cut off for "small" at estates worth no more than $50,000, and have recommended that a system that encourages probating the estate, having concluded that this is preferable to taking these estates out of the system or creating a non-probate system. Our major recommendations, therefore, include a process that is parallel to but less onerous than the regular probate stream so that it is accessible without legal assistance. The recommendations retain the major protections offered by probate. We also make recommendations that will support people administering estates on their own.

Sue Gratton, who had headed the small estates project, took us through what we had heard in our consultations and the report's main recommendations and the reasons for them. We were pleased that Deputy Attorney General Patrick Monahan (also an LCO Board member) and Sriram Subrahmanyan, Associate Deputy Minister, Taxation Policy Division, Ministry of Finance accepted the report on behalf of their respective ministry (without I must add on their behalf committing to implement the recommendations!). And I want to thank again Ian Hull, of Hull & Hull LLP, a small estates advisory group member, who offered his comments: it was great for us to hear about the value of a small estates procedure and to our advisory group process, too, from somehow involved in both.

The advisory group's sage advice and what we learned during the consultations for this project helped inform it tremendously.

Once the launch had finished and we were able to herd everyone from the Lower Barristers' Lounge at the Law Society of Upper Canada (thank you!) -- people continued to chat after we'd officially ended the proceedings -- we adjourned to the Osgoode Dining Room (I like the name Convocation Hall) for the reception to mark the end of my tenure as executive director - but more on that later.  

This is the last final report released while I am executive director. And so I'm particularly pleased to be able to congratulate Sue on a thoughtful, well-written and pragmatic report that the Board of Governors was pleased to approve.

Skim through the report and focus on those parts that you're particularly interested in - it's a good read, (And do take a minute to savour that cover - is it too flippant to say how much we like it?).




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