Assisted Human Reproduction: Succession Rights
It is now possible for a child to be conceived after the death of one or both parents through the use of artificial reproductive technologies. The inheritance laws have not kept pace with these advances in medical science. This project examines the legal position of posthumously conceived children with respect to inheritance under a will or on intestacy. In addition, the status of these children under the Dependants Relief Act and the Perpetuities Act is discussed. Should the law be changed to provide succession rights for a posthumously conceived child?
This Report for Discussion reviews the current law and the options for reform and is available for download here. A final report is being drafted and will be published in 2014.
Designation of Beneficiaries
The Alberta Law Reform Institute has undertaken a project to determine whether the legislation from which substitute decision makers draw their authority should be amended to give attorneys acting under powers of attorney or trustees acting under trusteeship orders substitute limited powers to designate beneficiaries on behalf of the donors or represented adults in specified circumstances.
ALRI published Final Report 104 - Beneficiary Designations by Substitute Decision Makers in April 2014. A copy of the report can be found here.
Matrimonial Property Act
The Matrimonial Property Act was enacted in 1978. Since then, there have been significant changes to economic, political, and social attitudes and expectations regarding the distribution of property between spouses on marriage breakdown. Given that changes to the MPA have been minimal during the 35 years that the MPA has been in force, the Alberta Law Reform Institute is examining whether certain elements of the MPA should be updated to better serve the needs of Albertans.
In 2010, a case study was completed for ALRI that identified “the most frequently raised and the most troublesome issues” that Alberta courts deal with regarding matrimonial property. Of the issues addressed in that case study, ALRI has selected three topics to examine in closer detail – debt, dissipation, and date of valuation. Depending on the feedback ALRI receives in regard to these issues, amendments to the MPA may be recommended.
 See Jonette Watson Hamilton & Annie Voss-Altman, “The Matrimonial Property Act: A Case Law Review,” Research Paper (2010), para 1.
The Alberta Law Reform Institute is undertaking a project to reform Alberta’s non-profit incorporation legislation. ALRI conducted a preliminary assessment which concluded that non-profit incorporation legislation in Alberta had not kept pace with the needs of non-profit organizations in the province or with reforms in other Canadian jurisdictions. In the next phase, ALRI will meet with an expert group and prepare materials for external consultation.
In April 2013, The Muttart Foundation hosted a four day consultation conference in Banff, Alberta. The results of the consultation were summarized into a consultation report which can be downloaded here. Presentations have been conducted for LESA seminars in Edmonton and Calgary and ALRI has conducted a province wide survey to grassroots organizations.
The Uniform Law Conference of Canada (ULCC) approved the Uniform Reviewable Transactions Act in 2012. The URTA is intended to replace the statutory and common law of fraudulent preferences and conveyances. As the ULCC noted:
The Reviewable Transactions Act does not depart radically in policy and function from the pre-reform law designed to protect unsecured creditors. However, it provides a comprehensive set of clear rules designed to overcome the uncertainty produced by more than a hundred years of incremental legislation and judicial decisions addressed to creditor-defeating dealings.
The primary benefits of the Uniform Reviewable Transactions Act, according to the ULCC, are that it brings a clear set of rules that are better harmonized with the federal Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.
ALRI is currently studying whether the Uniform Reviewable Transactions Act should be implemented in Alberta and if so, how this should be accomplished.
Trustee Act Project
The Uniform Law Conference of Canada (ULCC) produced the Uniform Trustee Act, 2012 and recommended that it be adopted by the common law provinces. ALRI participated in that process. As the ULCC noted, the two main purposes of trustee legislation are:
- Establish the authority needed to properly administer trusts in situations where the authority has not been adequately described in the document which creates a trust; and
- Describe the court’s power to direct trustees and otherwise intervene if necessary to ensure that a trust functions properly.
The primary benefit of the Uniform Trustee Act, according to the ULCC, is that it updates trustee legislation so that it continues to fulfill these purposes in a way that is consistent with how modern trusts operate.
ALRI is working to determine how to implement the Uniform Trustee Act in Alberta. ALRI expects to issue a final report in 2014 that will provide policy and technical guidance to help ensure that proposed changes to the trustee legislation reflect Alberta’s law and practice.
A copy of the Uniform Trustee Act, 2012 can be downloaded from the ULCC website here.