No matter who you are or what you do, there is a good chance there are legal matters in your life that could use some attention. Chances are you have put these tasks on the back burner for so long you forgot they existed, or perhaps you never thought of them in the first place. So here is my reminder list of some of the legal tasks you might want to get done in 2015:

If you own a business:

  • Review old policies to ensure they are still current, and ensure you are up-to-date with newer laws such as AODA, anti-spam legislation and Bill 168
  • You may want to have a lawyer review your employment contract template to ensure it reflects the current state of the (ever-changing) law
  • You should ensure that you have a contract with all of your employees – otherwise you could have to make very large payments if you ever need to terminate
  • If you own a corporation, you are probably due to update your minute books (as many people never touch theirs after incorporation despite the law requiring otherwise)
  • If any directors or officers on your board have changed, or moved, you must update the government using a specific form
  • If you are in a partnership and do not have a partnership agreement, it’s probably time to put your relationship into writing. You will be so grateful you did if and when you ever choose to part ways (especially if the break-up is nasty)
  • If you are a sole proprietor, consider whether it is time to incorporate

If you recently married:

  • Marriage invalidates your will, unless you specifically had the will drafted in contemplation of marriage – so it may be time to update your will
  • You may want to change your beneficiaries on your life insurance if your spouse is not already included
  • You may want to execute a Power of Attorney for Property to ensure that if you become mentally incapable of managing your property, that your spouse is able to do so on your behalf

If you are not married but in a long-term committed relationship:

  • You may want to draft a will if you do not already have one, because your partner is not automatically entitled to your assets upon your death (even if you are “common law”)
  • You may want to execute a Power of Attorney for Property to ensure that if you become mentally incapable of managing your property, that your spouse is able to do so on your behalf
  • You may want to execute a Power of Attorney for Personal Care to ensure your partner can make health care decisions for you in the event of your incapacity
  • Just because you are not married does not mean you will never owe spousal support if you break up. You may wish to speak with a family lawyer about how to manage this risk proactively

If you are a parent:

  • You should think about who you would want to be the guardian(s) of your child(ren), discuss it with the person(s) you wish to appoint and document this in your will
  • If your child has a disability you should look into establishing a Henson Trust and an RDSP
  • If you or your partner will be travelling with your child outside the country without the other parent, you should have a travel letter notarized to reduce the risk of problems at the border

If you are thinking about having a child and will require a third party (donor or surrogate):

  • Start your research now as it can take a long time to find a donor or surrogate, and it can be a long journey filled with medical assessments, psychological assessments, contracts and much more
  • Start saving now as it can be a costly process
  • You should have a contract in place (written by a lawyer) and obtain legal advice before conception occurs as there are many legal risks to understand

If you have been served with legal papers:

  • Open them up and address the issue – ignoring those papers will not make them go away, and can lead to worse outcomes such as automatically losing a lawsuit by default and having to pay the other side’s costs

If you have tenants living in a basement apartment or other rental unit:

  • Make sure you are complying with your duties as a landlord
  • Ensure you have a signed lease with your tenants

If you have living parents:

  • No matter their age, talk to your parents about their wishes for the future including their thoughts about long-term care and end-of-life wishes
  • Encourage your parents to execute a will and powers of attorney if they do not already have these documents in place, or update them if they are outdated (it may be largely to your detriment if they don’t!)


Photo credit: ByteForByte / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

About the Author

Lisa Feldstein is the principal lawyer at Lisa Feldstein Law Office. She is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School and the University of Guelph. Lisa practices in the area of Family Health Law™, which includes reproductive law, human rights, privacy, mental health and other health law matters. Lisa has presented at the 519 Church Street Community Centre and PFLAG Canada (York Region), and has been interviewed on Proud FM. She has helped many couples build their families through third party reproduction. Lisa has been teaching negotiation at Osgoode Hall Law School since 2010. She was recently awarded a 2014 Canadian Law Blog award for Best Practitioner blog, and a 2015 Precedent Setter Award.