Why Are Common-law Spouses Dangerous?

Canada’s Supreme Court has issued a warning for estate advisors. You need to become familiar with the concept of joint family venture.

In February 2011 in the Kerr v. Baranow case, the Supreme Court clarified claims that can be made by common-law spouses. The decision affects you if you are doing estate planning or estate administration work.

Estate advisors, executors, and common-law spouses must know how they are affected.

Mr. Justice Thomas Cromwell wrote this about common-law spouses:

“… where both parties have worked together for the common good, with each making extensive, but different, contributions to the welfare of the other and, as a result, have accumulated assets, the money remedy for unjust enrichment should reflect that reality…”

You will find the Kerr v. Baranow case has a lengthy examination of the law of unjust enrichment. I will discuss this in my future posts.

I will be giving you tips on what this means if you are:

• an estate executor
• a common-law spouse who must sue an estate or
• anyone doing any estate planning

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