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Alberta Legal Blog

What can a victim of employment bullying do?

According to the Canada Safety Council, one in six people nationwide, including in Alberta, have been the victim of bullies in the workplace. Bullying involves the repeated negative behaviour of one person toward another in the workplace. The harm caused by employment bullying is typically more psychological than physical. It usually takes on a verbal form and is often well-disguised and difficult to recognise.

This behaviour can involve discrimination, sexual harassment and more. It often causes mental, financial and physical harm. It may include rudeness, disrespect and hostility along with abuse of power, intimidation and threats. Bullies are often supervisors, managers, colleagues or clients, and their behaviour can cause emotional damage that may affect the victim's work performance -- causing additional stress.

Where does postnuptial agreements fit into Alberta family law?

Prenuptial agreements have become more acceptable, and some Alberta residents who never signed marriage agreements before they got married may have questions about the potential advantages of postnuptial agreements. What are postnups and why would married couples sign them? Also, are they valid under the family law of Alberta?

As with a prenuptial agreement, the law requires such an agreement signed during the marriage to be voluntary. Because they are easier to challenge in court than prenuptial agreements, it might be wise for both parties to have legal representatives to provide counsel before signing such contracts. When it comes to the reasons for creating postnuptial agreements, they are varied. Some couples do it for business or financial reasons, while others use them as lifestyle agreements.

Workplace personal injury leaves Alberta woman paralyzed

People in Alberta go to work every day to earn a living, and they all expect to come home at the end of the day. Unfortunately, sometimes things do not go according to plan. Suffering a serious personal injury at work can change the course of a man or woman's life, as is the case for a woman left paralyzed from a workplace accident.

On May 15, a 10-year employee of a Lethbridge housing company went to work as usual. While on the job, a steel frame fell from a height and struck the woman. After first going to a local hospital, she was quickly transferred to a hospital in Calgary. She suffered a broken leg, a broken neck and an injury to her spinal cord.

Complex families may require especially sensitive estate planning

Because the words, "'Til death do us part" hold true less often these days than they did for generations of the past, the modern family comes in many forms in Alberta. It is not all that unusual for a man or woman to marry more than once during his or her life, and this can lead to complicated family dynamics. As a result, estate planning may be less straightforward for some people and might require a delicate touch.

Data from Statistics Canada shows that of the 3.7 million families with children in this country in 2012, 12.6 percent were blended families. Mothers and fathers of blended families face unique challenges when it comes to estate planning, according to those who work in the field. Some suggest they should focus on being fair, rather than being equal.

Despite thorough estate planning, one heir can upset everything

The truth is, once a person has passed on, he or she no longer has any control over his or her estate. For that reason, many people in Alberta put considerable effort into estate planning. Unfortunately, it takes just one disappointed heir to potentially upset the works, as is the case with a Hollywood widow who feels she deserves more than her allotted share.

Canadian actor Alan Thicke passed away in Dec. 2016. His ranch in California was left in trust to his three sons, including singer Robin Thicke, and he bequeathed them three-quarters of his personal items and 60 percent of the rest of his estate. To his third wife and widow he left the balance of his estate and personal effects, plus a $500,000 life insurance policy and assorted pension and union benefits. Much of this was stipulated in a 2005 prenuptial agreement.

Foreign buyers may soon be looking closely at Calgary real estate

They say that one man's trash is another man's treasure. Certainly, it is often shown to be true that what's unwanted by one is coveted by another, and real estate is no exception. While foreign buyers are taking some of the blame for the inflated markets in other cities, some industry insiders believe they are exactly what Calgary needs right now.

In both Vancouver and Toronto, the housing markets were deemed to be dangerously bloated and difficult to penetrate for all but the wealthiest buyers. In an effort to partially deflate the situation, each city implemented a 15 percent tax on non-resident buyers, believing that foreign investors bore a good portion of the blame. While non-Canadian buyers may be unpopular in those cities, in Calgary, their money would be welcome relief in a sagging market.

Real estate developer makes something new out of something old

Reduce, reuse, recycle is the mantra for environmental responsibility in homes across Alberta. Most people conscientiously separate their recyclables from their garbage, turn the lights off when they're not needed and maybe even get crafty with an old skid. A property developer is taking it to a new level, however, on a construction project in Edmonton, where an innovative spin is being put on a new piece of residential real estate.

Instead of using traditional wood-frame construction methods for a new low-rise apartment complex, the primary building components are used steel shipping containers. The containers are customized in Calgary and then brought to the construction site, assembled and finished. All the usual new home fittings are present, including closets, appliances, flooring and drywall. 

Complex estate planning may require a professional's touch

As people live their lives, if they are fortunate, they will meet people who become important to them. Some people may wish to leave a gift for these special individuals after they pass away. However, if there is some level of secrecy to the relationship, an open bequest may not be suitable. The question then becomes, can a person in Alberta bequeath assets secretly as part of his or her estate planning? The answers are as complicated as the situations they cover.

When a person dies and leaves a will, it typically goes through probate before an executor administers the estate. During this process, the will becomes a matter of public record, and its contents are no longer a secret. Any attempt to leave assets to an unnamed beneficiary will almost certainly become a contentious issue and may cause a challenge to the will.

Part of estate planning is choosing the right executor

Every good ship needs a skilled captain; every expedition needs a knowledgeable guide. Moreover, every will needs a capable executor. In order to be effective, a will must be carefully thought out and put together, but all the best estate planning could go out the window if the executor is not able to administer the estate. Here are some tips for choosing an executor in Alberta.

Perhaps the single most important characteristic of a good executor is trustworthiness. The person one chooses as executor will be responsible for the distribution of one's estate, and that is a very important task. Failure to do the job with honesty and integrity can undo carefully made plans and cause upset among the beneficiaries.

A family law nightmare: Man pays more in support than he earns

A good plan is to hope for the best and plan for the worst. Worst-case scenarios do not always happen in family law cases in Alberta. When they do, however, they provide a painful example of how far wrong a situation can go, and show why one should always do everything one can to achieve the best possible result. A man in another province now regrets his decision to represent himself in court after a judge awarded more support to his ex-wife and child than the man earns each month.

As part of their divorce, a man and a woman went to court in June 2012, to resolve the issues of child and spousal support. The man had sold his 50 percent share of a flooring business and was working as a salesperson at the same business. Believing the man had done so deliberately to earn less money, the judge based his award on an imputed salary. Despite claiming a monthly wage of $5,400 before taxes, the judge awarded nearly $6,900 in combined support each month.

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