What Legal Services Are Available During COVID-19?
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many aspects of life to be put on hold and caused unprecedented levels of stress and uncertainty. Despite the upheaval (or in some cases, because of it), many Alberta residents continue to require legal services and advice. Whether you need legal assistance from a real estate lawyer, wills and estates lawyer, or divorce lawyer, Northwest Calgary’s Dukeshire Law Office is here to help you. Read on for an overview of some of the legal services that are available during COVID-19, or call us today to discuss your specific real estate, estate planning, or family law legal needs.
Purchase, Sale, or Refinance of Residential Property
The Alberta Land Titles Office remains open during the pandemic, and banks and lenders are operating, (though usually with reduced hours or other restrictions). Our Northwest Calgary real estate lawyers are available to assist with buying or selling property, or refinancing your current home. Our experience and expertise will ensure that your real estate transaction goes as smoothly as possible. We can advise you on potential risks such as delay or changes in property value; negotiate terms to protect your legal interests; and offer solutions should issues arise due to COVID-19 complications (e.g., time extensions to meet conditions, difficulties with financing or closing the deal due to reduced bank hours, or the need for postponement of the closing date).
Wills and Estate Services and Planning in the Event of Incapacity
The COVID-19 pandemic has put the spectre of illness and death into sharp focus. Now perhaps more than ever, people are realizing the importance of having their affairs in order should they become sick or die. Our Northwest Calgary wills and estate lawyers continue to provide estate planning advice and prepare legal documents including:
- A Last Will and Testament to address the distribution of your estate and guardianship of your minor children upon your death;
- A Personal Directive to appoint an agent to make personal and health care decisions on your behalf should you become incapable of making decisions on your own; and
- A Power of Attorney to appoint a person to handle your financial affairs and property should you become incapacitated.
Family law disputes and divorce matters
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alberta Courts suspended all court sittings as of March 15, 2020, except for emergency and urgent matters such as applications for Emergency Protection Orders and matters concerning the abduction of a child, which continue to be heard. The suspension of court sittings has been extended to June 26, 2020, but there continue to be many options to achieve results in your family law matter during the pandemic. For example:
- Effective May 8, 2020, applications may be made to the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta for “Simple Desk Applications” using a specific procedure.
- A “desk application” is one where there is no personal appearance by you or your lawyer at court in front of a judge. Instead, certain forms and documents are filed with the court and served on the other party, giving them time to respond. The judge then considers the materials and if approved, makes an Order.
- There is a list of 18 different issues the court can address by way of a Simple Desk Application, including Table Amount of Child Support where income is Line 150 from an Income Tax Return, determination of a Section 7 Expense, support variation (if simple) and Parenting time (holidays or special occasions). There is a limit of two issues per application.
- Where a family application is too complex for a Simple Desk Application, the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta is also allowing for a desk application with written argument added, as long as each party is represented by a lawyer.
- Applications for uncontested divorce judgments, which are and always have been desk applications, continue to be processed by the court as before the days of COVID-19.
- It is possible to file and serve Statements of Claim for Divorce and Division of Matrimonial Property during the pandemic.
Court applications in family matters may now be made remotely by video and audio conferencing in the Provincial Court of Alberta. Effective June 3, 2020, for matters to be heard in regular morning Family Chambers in the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta, court applications may be made remotely by video and audio conferencing for matters that have an anticipated length of 20 minutes or less, and that are not suited to the desk application process. At present, due to Covid-19, there continues to be no ability to book trial dates, but progress may still be achieved. As always, it is open to negotiate a settlement or employ mediation, arbitration and other alternative dispute resolution options to resolve family law disputes. Meetings can be done over the phone, via video conferencing, or in-person while complying with social distancing guidelines.
How Dukeshire Law Office has adapted during COVID-19
Our staff and lawyers are following COVID-19 precautions and following Alberta public health protocols. We are ready and willing to work with you in a way that satisfies your health concerns while ensuring your legal needs are met. During the COVID-19 pandemic, our lawyers are meeting with clients over the phone whenever possible. Our offices remain open for in-person meetings where necessary, but by appointment only, such as for the signing of a Will. There are technical requirements for witnessing the execution of a Will, and in many situations, it is simpler and more cost-effective for the client to meet in-person with our Northwest Calgary wills and estates lawyer.
Dukeshire Law Office is offering video conferencing for clients to sign certain types of legal documents, if requested by the client. It is possible to meet by video conferencing with our Northwest Calgary family lawyers to sign a Separation Agreement, Cohabitation Agreement or a Will, for example.
Contact Dukeshire Law Office for legal services in Northwest Calgary
If you are searching for services from a Northwest Calgary family lawyer, wills and estates lawyer, or real estate lawyer, choose Dukeshire Law Office. With years of experience and a deep commitment to your best interests, Dukeshire Law Office offers a full range of legal services in matters pertaining to family law, real estate, and wills and estates law. We pride ourselves on giving our clients personalized guidance to find ideal solutions. Call 403-286-7008 today to schedule your initial consultation with one of our lawyers in Northwest Calgary.