Blog: Georgia Barnard

Estate Dispute Awards $1.4 million to BC SPCA

A recent decision of the British Columbia Supreme Court is a good reminder that Wills should be regularly reviewed by their makers to be sure they reflect his or her current wishes; and if not, a new Will or codicil should be prepared and executed as quickly as possible.

In a decision handed down last week, Justice MacNaughton held that a Vancouver woman’s estate had to be distributed pursuant to her 2013 Will, and not according to a handwritten note she made at some later date and left with the Will in a lockbox in her home.

The 2013 Will…

Pride 2021

As one of our Pride 2021 initiatives at Owen Bird, the associates decided to go on a LGBTQ2+ walking tour. The Really Gay History Tour tells the (previously) hidden queer history of our city. Head storyteller Glenn Tkach did all the research for the tour, and his passion for the subject was evident! Stops included Jim Deva Plaza, the Vancouver Art Gallery, St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church, and St. Paul’s Hospital. We thoroughly enjoyed the tour. Delivered with nuance and humour, we all went away feeling we now know more about our city and its LGBTQ2+ history.

Categories: Announcements

Language Rights and Divorce in British Columbia

Did you know that you could divorce in French in British Columbia?

As of March 1, 2021, litigants may use either official language in divorce proceedings. This includes filing pleadings or other documents, giving evidence, or making submissions. Simultaneous interpretation will be provided by the court on request, as will translations of judgments or orders. The litigants also have a right to a judge who speaks the same official language as that party (or both official languages, as the case may be).

According to the 2016 census, there are roughly 55,000 people in British Columbia who speak French as their…

Categories: Family Law

Effect of Marriage on your Will

In British Columbia, it used to be the case that a Will made prior to marriage was automatically revoked on the marriage of the will-maker. However, since the Wills, Estates and Succession Act came into force in 2014, marriage no longer has this effect in our province.

Seven years later, Ontario is following suit. A bill repealing the section of Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act which set out that a will was revoked by marriage received royal asset on April 19, 2021.

These changes reflect the modern world, where increasing numbers of people in Canada have children from prior relationships…

Changes to the Federal Divorce Act

New amendments to the federal Divorce Act, meant to come into force last July but pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic, have come into force this month.

These are the first substantial changes to the Divorce Act in more than 20 years.

The changes to the Divorce Act include updated provisions addressing family violence and relocation.

The Act defines family violence in a holistic sense. It does not solely cover physical violence. The definition includes harassment or stalking, neglect, psychological abuse, financial abuse, destruction of property, and specific threats. It also includes the direct or indirect exposure of a…

Categories: Family Law

Owen Bird Celebrates International Women’s Day by Giving to the BC Society of Transition Houses

Happy International Women’s Day!

Last year the firm celebrated history-making women in law and highlighted women who inspired us. This year, we wanted to give back and fundraise to support women with experiences of domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence (“IPV”). IPV has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic[1] and women make up 80% of police-reported IPV victims in Canada[2].

To this end, the Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Involvement Committee raised funds to support the BC Society of Transition Houses (the “Society”). The Society is a “member-based, provincial umbrella organization that, through leadership, support and…

Categories: Announcements

Update on Remote Execution of Wills in BC

We previously reported on how the Government of British Columbia responded to COVID-19 by temporarily allowing the remote execution of Wills, setting out the requirements for doing so in a ministerial order that is only applicable so long as the Provincial State of Emergency is in effect (see our previous blog post of June 17, 2020).

We are pleased to advise that the Government of British Columbia introduced legislation last week to make remote execution of Wills a permanent fixture in this province.

If it passes, Bill 21 – 2020 will amend the Wills, Estates, and Succession Act,…


We previously commented on this blog that the laws of British Columbia had not been relaxed to allow for remote or “virtual” execution of Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Representation Agreements during the COVID-19 pandemic (see our posts of April 29, 2020 and May 1, 2020).

That has now changed. The Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General has now issued ministerial orders with respect to the remote execution of Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Representation Agreements in British Columbia.

These orders are effective May 19, 2020, until the current Provincial State of Emergency is over. At the…

COVID-19: I Can’t Get Two Witnesses for My Will, Help!

UPDATE – this post is now out of date. Please see our updated post of May 21, 2020

As discussed in a previous post on this blog; while some other provinces have relaxed the in-person witnessing requirements for estate planning documents at this time, British Columbia has not. If you get creative, will-makers can fulfil these requirements while still respecting social distancing protocols. However, for those required to self-isolate strict compliance will be impossible. They simply won’t be able to execute their Will in the presence of two witnesses. What’s a would-be will-maker to do?

Will-makers can…