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ALRI's recommended changes to the Dower Act

Ken Proudman - view Arbitrator profile
   Edmonton, Alberta

ALRI has published their Final Report. There are 51 recommendations, starting at page ix.

In a nutshell, they're recommending that:
  1. Dower rights extend to AIPs;
  2. That dower rights also apply to leases, mobile homes, and potentially Metis interests;
  3. Dower rights extending to homes they've cohabited in within the last 3 years (although upon death only a single life estate can be designated);
  4. Dower rights extinguishing 3 years after ceased cohabitation in the particular home (except maybe a life estate);
  5. No life estate after two years of separation (spouses) or after no longer AIPs;
  6. Life estates extending to personal property and household goods related to the home;
  7. Judicial discretion to limit a life estate where required to support another family member;
  8. Dower rights extending to land in a closely held corporation, provided they've cohabited on the land within the preceding 3 years (I pushed for this);
  9. Statutory permission to file a caveat (i.e. even during the relationship without needing to file an SOC);
  10. Eliminating the offence in favour of damages, with judicial discretion considering specified factors (i.e. no longer being absolutely liable for the market value of the house). Also the ability to seek recovery through the General Revenue Fund if they're unable to collect from their spouse; and
  11. Many more minor adjustments.

We'll have to wait to see what the Legislature adopts. See the Final Report for further recommendations, particulars of each recommendation, and rationale for each proposal.

Real estate and corporate lawyers will complain about the additional steps on their end, but this would be an enormous push forward for AIP rights. I'm a bit concerned about rights only applying to spouses for 3 years after cohabitation though, I would have limited that to only AIP relationships, to coincide with their limitation period.

What do you think?

1 54 days ago - edited 54 days ago

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