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A change is coming to estate law that will promote a faster turnaround and remove obstacles for grieving families in Ontario.

Posted on February 22, 2021 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (15452)

As of April 1, 2021, Ontario will enact the Small Estates probate for the Small Estates Certificate (SEC).

 

In Ontario, probate – the in-court process of validating a will and its trustees – has historically applied to all estates, regardless of value.

 

However, Ontario courts have acknowledged that probate places a significant strain on the financial and energetic resources of grieving individuals. The complexity and expense of probate often dissuades one entirely from rightfully applying for estate authority.

 

The new Small Estates process will provide eligible applicants with an expedited and user-friendly alternative to traditional probate.

 

Provided that the estate in question – that is, the total value of the deceased’s land, possessions and other assets – is valued at CAD$150,000 or less, applicants may pursue an SEC in place of the standard Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee (CAET).

 

The SEC gives authority to the trustees named to administer the estate assets outlined in the probate application.

 

The Small Estates probate expands public access and improves court efficiency. Applicants will be extended a simplified, streamlined application accompanied by a reduced quantity of supporting documents. This approach will promote accuracy in filing and significantly lower the volume of court-reviewable paperwork.

 

This new addition to estate law is a part of a modernization that the Ontario courts are undergoing to improve accessibility and general understanding of the justice system.


Written by Agatha Humfrey, paralegal student, Dwyer Law Office

 

CTV WINDSOR - Lawyer returns to first love as nurse to help remote community during pandemic

Posted on September 3, 2020 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (10853)

WINDSOR, ONT -- When courthouses suspended their operations in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Martina Dwyer made the decision to temporarily leave her law practice in Hamilton to fight on the frontlines in a Northern Ontario Indigenous community.

 

Prior to obtaining her law degree from Windsor Law in 2011, Dwyer graduated from the health science program at St. Clair College. She worked as registered nurse for over 20 years in many numerous areas including public health, intensive care unit, labour and delivery.

 

Still a member of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO), Dwyer received constant emails concerning the shortage of nurses due to the pandemic, especially public health nurses for Indigenous communities. She chose to answer the call for help by returning to her first love of nursing in a very unconventional way.

“I couldn’t believe that this was happening. I was actually leaving my life where I’m in a big city and going to a northern community where I had no experience whatsoever. I didn’t even know what to expect,” Dwyer recalls her first thoughts.

 

Indigenous Services Canada commissioned her to a nursing station in one the most northern communities in Ontario, Keewaywin First Nation, an Oji-Cree First Nation, accessible only by plane.

 

“They needed someone that was specialized in COVID and that’s what my training was. Indigenous Services taught us everything related to COVID such as how to swab and contact trace.”

 

The First Nation has a population about 400 people. Despite its isolated location, Dwyer quickly learned that even one case of COVID-19 can be catastrophic.

 

“Often many people live in one household. One case can turn into four cases. We don’t have the facilities like the southern communities, such as access to a hospital. We have a small clinic, that’s why we really needed Martina here,” says Lynn Sutherland, head of Keewaywin First Nation’s COVID team.

 

During Dwyer’s month-long assignment, a nursing tent was set up to screen residents. Much of her job was educating the community on how to prevent the spread of the virus through methods of proper face protection, social distancing and sanitization.

 

“When Martina came it was a really big help to us because we didn’t know what we’re dealing with, it was all new,” says Gloria Kakepetum, member of the Keeywaywin COVID team.

 

“The community was so open to learning. They love their elders, they will do anything to protect them from this virus,” says Dwyer.

 

Using a creative approach, Dwyer and Sutherland also hosted a weekly radio show allowing residents to call in with their questions and concerns related to the virus.

 

The efforts paid off for this COVID team who treated their assignment as a 24/7 job. The community has yet to report a single COVID-19 case.

 

“Everybody followed protocol there I was just so proud of them,” says Dwyer who returned home in peace knowing Keeywaywin residents are now equipped to fight the pandemic.

 

Dwyer has switched out of her nursing gown and is back to fighting cases in the southern Ontario courtrooms. However, she says the short time she spent in Keeywaywin First Nation has taught her priceless life lessons.

 

“Living in this community causes you to pause, reflect and treat each other and the world with respect. They live their lives richly and their success is measured with family.”



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