December is a great time of year to both reflect on the past year and look forward to the next. This concept also applies to the law. Changes have occurred this year, with new ones on the way for 2010. As lawyers, we fulfill an important role by informing our clients about these changes and knowing what legal changes are important to them.
I came up with an idea that would reduce my stress this time of the year and also give our readers an update across different areas of the law. I asked our lawyers to write a brief article about either a change in the law in their practice area or what they may consider a best practice:
Professionals in Alberta will be allowed more flexibility with their estate and business planning in 2010. The Professional Corporations Amendment Act (expected to be in force on April 1, 2010) will remove existing restrictions on share ownership in professional corporations. Family members will be allowed to own non-controlling interests in the professional corporation. This will allow Alberta professionals more options with their estate and tax planning. The new legislation will apply to most professions, including dentistry, medicine, law, chiropractic, optometry and accounting.
Now may also be a good opportunity to review your estate planning documents; Wills, Enduring Powers of Attorney and Personal Directives, to ensure they are up to date and still meet your needs.
Submitted by Malcolm F. Pritchard. Malcolm may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those contemplating the purchase of an existing home in 2010, put Title Insurance on the top of your list. Title Insurance provides a homeowner with the following protection:
For more information about Title Insurance, please call me or ask your lawyer or see www.firstcanadiantitle.com.
Submitted by William J. Anhorn. Bill may be contacted at email@example.com.
Bill 19, the Land Assembly Project Area Act (LAPAA) was passed in 2009 and is yet to be proclaimed law.
The LAPAA will authorize the Government to secure large areas of privately owned land for public purposes, such as transportation and utility corridors. The Province can declare a tract of land to be a Land Assembly Project Area and pass regulations restricting the use of that land.
From a public policy standpoint, this proposed law is good because it allows the Government to set aside land for potential expropriation, while minimizing the cost to the Province and the taxpayer. However, for the land owner, this legislation is unfair as it can prohibit a land owner from fully developing the land to its best potential and highest return.
Submitted by Michael J. Dolan. Michael may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On October 30, the Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act (AGTA) replaced the Dependant Adults Act. If you and your family members do not have a Personal Directive and an Enduring Power of Attorney, this new law will apply when someone loses mental capacity. The goal of the AGTA is to provide more respect to people who are losing capacity and more accountability for the people who are assisting them. In cases where a person is losing mental capacity over time, the AGTA allows that person to receive help from a family member or friend in making health decisions. Criminal record check, a credit check, and references are required for a person appointed as a trustee. Further information on this law can be obtained from your lawyer and at http://www.seniors.alberta.ca/opg/guardianship.
Submitted by Les Scholly. Les may be contacted at email@example.com.
On December 1, 2009, Alberta Justice began the Child Support Recalculation Program. This Program is designed to assist parents who are paying and receiving child support to recalculate the support to better reflect their incomes. The program will assist parties who have straightforward employment incomes, and will recalculate the support on an annual basis for a fee of $75.00 each. The new support amount calculated by the Program is enforceable by the Maintenance Enforcement Program. The Program does have the discretion to refuse to issue a recalculation decision in certain circumstances. Further information about the Program can be found at www.recalculation.gov.ab.ca.
Submitted by Catherine A. Regier. Cathy may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New amendments to Alberta’s Gaming and Liquor Act allows bar owners to collect certain personal information from patrons, including their name, age and photograph. Upon the request of a police officer, and when an owner reasonably believes a patron has broken the law or is a threat to other patrons, they can share this information with other bar owners. Other bar owners can then use the information to decide if they want to allow the problem patron into their establishment. So remember to behave yourself the next time you are out at a licenced establishment, so that you can avoid being put on the naughty list of local bar owners.
We hope this information brings you up to date on both some new developments and best practices in the law. The lawyers and staff of Pritchard and Company wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2010.