If you think you may have a claim for compensation, as the result of suffering injuries from an accident or separating/divorcing your former spouse, for example, you should be aware of the limitation periods that exist which may bar you from making a claim in the future. The following are merely general guidelines and should not be construed or interpreted as defining and/or applying a limitation period to your particular circumstances without consulting a lawyer to review your specific case. The general limitation period in Ontario is 2 years for claims relating to torts and contracts (The Limitations Act). The clock starts ticking when the potential claim is discovered or should have been discovered by a reasonable person. This can be somewhat vague and is often the subject of dispute during court proceedings.
In Family Law matters, the limitation period for equalization of property is the earlier of: 6 years from the date of separation, 2 years from date of divorce, or 6 months from the death of your former spouse (Family Law Act). In Estate Law, the limitation period for estate trustees to bring a tort claim is 2 years from the date of the deceased's death (Trustee Act).
Understandably, it is imperative that you initiate proceedings as soon as possible. Otherwise, you risk being barred from making your claim and being compensated. If you are concerned you are running out of time to bring your claim, it is advisable that you consult a lawyer immediately.
To paraphrase the Family Law Act, you are generally in a common law relationship if you have lived with your partner for at least 3 years, or you and your spouse have a child together.
Some people are misinformed about their legal rights and obligations as a common law spouse. One of the major differences between the rights of married spouses and common law spouses relates to property. Unlike married couples, common law couples do not share in the property one party bought while living together and do not have the right to divide any increase in value of property brought into the relationship. As such, there is no “matrimonial home” for common law spouses and you do not have an automatic claim to the equity in your common law spouse’s home. However, if during the time you lived in your common law spouse’s home you contributed to the property, you may have a claim and should consult with a lawyer.
Since common law couples do not have the same rights in regards to property as married couples, it should be no surprise that on the death of a common law spouse, the survivor can be left in a difficult situation. If you are in a common law relationship and your spouse dies without a will, his or her property would go to his or her blood relatives. Understandably, if this outcome is not you or your spouse’s intention, it is imperative that you consult with a lawyer to develop an estate plan.
Understandably, pet owners consider their pet(s) to be part of the family. However, for estate planning purposes, pets and animals have no legal status as persons and are instead considered property. Nevertheless, there are ways to ensure your pet is properly cared for when you pass away. Rather than instructing your estate trustee to set aside money in trust for your pet, the proper approach is to instruct your estate trustee to deliver a fixed amount of money to a person you choose to care for your pet after your death. This person will then be required to agree in writing to provide lifetime care for the pet in order to receive the money, and if he or she dies before you or is unable or unwilling to care for the pet, the legacy lapses and falls into the residue of your estate.
For further information, please contact my office at your convenience (416) 549-5080