February 16, 2023

Revised Trustee Act

The revised Trustee Act received royal assent on April 29, 2022, and came into force on Feb. 1, 2023. The Act aspires to clarify trust laws, to make creating and managing trusts more efficient, and to limit the need for court involvement. It improves the management of trusts for businesses and decreases administrative burdens on beneficiaries.

While the predecessor Act predominantly focused on trusts created under wills, the new legislation is adapted for modern business and applies beyond testamentary situations. Some examples include real estate investment trusts that fund land development and royalty trusts. 

New provisions of the Act include:

  • updating the duty of care to improve consumer protection, making it consistent with the Estate Administration Act;
  • including an explicit duty by a trustee to report to beneficiaries and be responsive to beneficiary requests to improve transparency, reduce the need to attend court and reduce the cost of administering a trust;
  • allowing for a temporary trustee when a trustee is temporarily absent or incapacitated;
  • allowing for an unfit trustee to be removed and adding a process for a trustee to resign;
  • allowing trustees to perform their duties and powers by majority;
  • recognizing, validating and regulating non-charitable purpose trusts; and
  • allowing for the use of evidence from outside the trust document for a court to determine a settlor’s intention.

Lawyers who practise in areas outside of wills and estates, including family, real estate conveyancing and corporate commercial, are encouraged to attend training on the Act. 

Civil Claims Limit of the Provincial Court of Alberta

The Ministry of Justice is committed to ensuring Albertans have a fair and accessible justice system, and is targeting continuing reforms to improve access to the courts, increase efficiency and reduce back logs, including through reforms to small claims courts. Supporting this commitment, and in collaboration with the Provincial Court of Alberta, the Ministry is considering whether to pursue an increase to the civil claims limit of the Provincial Court.

The civil claims limit in the Provincial Court was last increased in August 2014 from $25,000 to $50,000. In December 2022, the Provincial Court Act was amended to authorize the Government of Alberta to increase the monetary limit for civil claims in the Provincial Court. The Ministry is interested in receiving input on the next steps in the evolution of the Provincial Court’s civil claims limit, while being mindful of available resources.

The intent for increasing the civil claims limit of the Provincial Court would be to provide Albertans with additional options to pursue resolution of their civil claim. It would not remove the existing option to pursue their claim in the Court of King’s Bench.

The Ministry is seeking input from our civil claims stakeholders and other justice system partners to inform whether to proceed with an increase to the civil claims limit of the Provincial Court, the amount to which the civil claims limit should be increased and the appropriate timeline for doing so.

The Ministry is also seeking a clear understanding of any challenges or other considerations that may impact Albertans’ ability to pursue resolution of their civil disputes in a timely and cost-effective way if the civil claims limit were to be increased.

If you want to provide input to the Ministry of Justice on this issue, please complete the online survey by Friday, Feb. 24, 2023.

Take the Survey

Surrogate Bar Meeting Q&A

On Dec. 12, 2022, Alberta lawyers practising in surrogate and estates law were invited to attend an online meeting with the Chief Justice, Justices of the Court of King’s Bench and representatives of King’s Bench administration, to discuss issues related to surrogate practice in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, filing processes and other matters of interest to the surrogate bar. Several questions arose during this meeting regarding Surrogate Digital Service, as well as other inquiries, to which the Court of King’s Bench has provided written answers.

View this Q&A document for more information. 

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