The Critical Importance of a Personal Health Directive

Imagine a scenario where, due to an unforeseen medical event, you find yourself incapacitated, unable to voice your healthcare preferences or decisions. It’s an uncomfortable thought, yet it’s a reality that can strike anyone at any time, regardless of their current health status. This underscores the necessity of having a personal health directive, often known as a living will or medical power of attorney.

The consequences of not having a health directive can profoundly affect both you and your loved ones. Without this essential document, here are some of the critical situations you and your family might face:

Decision-Making Comes to a Halt

Without a designated person to make healthcare decisions on your behalf, medical professionals are left in a challenging position. They are constrained by legal and ethical guidelines that typically err on the side of prolonging life, potentially in ways that you might not prefer. Decision-making regarding your healthcare can be severely delayed, as doctors may need to seek court orders to proceed with or cease certain types of medical treatments.

Family Powerlessness and Conflicts

In the absence of a health directive, your loved ones are stripped of the ability to act on your behalf. This can lead to feelings of powerlessness and frustration, as they may know your preferences but lack the legal authorization to ensure they are followed. Furthermore, without clear guidance from you, family members might disagree on the best course of action, leading to conflicts that can escalate into legal battles, driving wedges between loved ones during an already distressing time.

Legal and Financial Complications

When decisions are at a standstill, and legal intervention is required to proceed with medical treatment or discontinuation, the process can be lengthy and financially draining. The costs associated with court proceedings or legal consultations can add considerable strain to an already emotionally taxing situation. These funds could otherwise contribute to medical bills or support for recovery.

Impersonal Medical Decisions

Without your personal input, medical decisions are made based on general healthcare principles and the clinicians’ professional judgments. This might result in a course of treatment that doesn’t align with your values, beliefs, or preferences. A health directive ensures that your voice is heard, even when you cannot speak, making your healthcare experience as personalized and respectful of your wishes as possible.

How to Safeguard Your Preferences and Loved Ones

Creating a health directive may seem daunting, but it’s a straightforward process that can save a significant amount of stress and uncertainty. Here’s how you can begin:

  1. Consult with Healthcare Professionals: Understand the types of decisions that might need to be made if you’re unable to make them yourself. This can help you think through your preferences wisely.
  2. Legally Document Your Wishes: Whether it’s appointing a medical power of attorney or creating a living will, make sure your decisions are recorded in a legally recognized format.
  3. Communicate with Your Designated Decision Maker and Loved Ones: Ensure those close to you, especially the person or persons you’ve designated to make decisions, understand your preferences clearly.
  4. Review Regularly: Over time, your wishes might evolve. Regularly review your health directive to ensure it still reflects your current preferences.

Taking the initiative to prepare a health directive ensures that, even in the most vulnerable moments, your healthcare choices are respected, and your dignity is upheld. More than a legal document, it’s an act of kindness towards yourself and a gift of clarity and guidance for your loved ones during difficult times.

Got questions about estate planning? Reach out to us for a complimentary consultation and see how we can assist you in putting together a personal directive that outlines your wishes clearly and ensure you have all the legal documents you need when planning your estate needs.

I Have No Assets, Do I Still Need a Will?

When you hear the word “estate,” you tend to think of wealth, property, and assets. As such, people assume that creating a Will is only necessary for the wealthy. Regardless of your financial status or age, having a Will is an essential component of your life planning strategy.

Protecting Your Loved Ones: Your Will enables you to specify your wishes for your children’s guardianship should something unexpected happen to you. Without a Will, the courts decides and manages decisions regarding their well-being.

Protecting Your Digital Estate: In today’s technological era we have various digital assets including social media accounts, web domains, crypto currency emails, and online storage. Assigning someone you trust as the executor of these accounts in your Will can save your family members from a lot of stress and difficulties.

Ensuring Quick Dispensation of Your Assets: When someone dies, the process of dispersing the estate could take years. With a Will the process to can be more convenient and faster for your family members.

Trust and Peace of Mind: A Will is a way to provide reassurance and support for your loved ones by providing clarity and ensuring distribution of your estate is according to your wishes.

Flexibility: A Will does not take effect until your death, so you can modify or revoke your Will anytime you wish while you’re alive.

A Will is essential for everyone—not only the wealthy. A Will is a valuable component of a well-structured life plan. It’s a symbol of your love and care for your loved ones and proves invaluable to ease their difficulty when you’re gone. So don’t hesitate, make your Will and provide peace of mind to those who matter the most to you.

Craig Gorham
Certified Executor Advisor


Craig Gorham is a Certified Executor Advisor at Summit Legal Group, guiding clients through the Estate Administration process with compassion, empathy and a wealth of specialized knowledge. You can reach Craig directly at 587-393-2069 or

Fast Track Grant Approval

Grant application approval

In our recent bLAWg post, we shed light on the typical time frame for a Grant of Probate or Administration approval. However, you may find yourself in a situation that calls for a quicker turnaround. Here’s how you can help expedite the process to fast track the grant approval:

  1. Enlist the right expertise: Choosing an experienced firm is key. Interpretations of the Wills and Succession Act (Alberta) and Surrogate Rules (Alberta) are ever-evolving, even if the regulations themselves don’t change. Outdated techniques may not be applicable today. At Summit Legal Group, we stay abreast of these changes and are consistently in touch with the Surrogate section of the Court to ensure our applications align with the current expectations.
  2. Full disclosure is the best approach: Before we start, we circulate a comprehensive questionnaire to the proposed executor. This information gathering is crucial as minor mistakes can lead the court to reject it. Simple errors such as such as misspelled names or incorrect addresses can cause delays. The application is sent back to us for revisions before we can resubmit the application to the court. Plus, we can only guide you based on the information you provide. Therefore being as thorough as possible in your responses allows us to assist you better.
  3. Ensure you have a valid will: Make sure you and your loved ones have valid wills. As we’ve highlighted before, grants eligible for electronic submission can often be approved in a matter of weeks, instead of months.

Don’t let the process of obtaining a grant slow you down. Reach out to Summit Legal Group’s team of skilled Estate professionals today for efficient and cost-effective Estate solutions. Let us help you navigate this journey with speed and precision with the hopes to fast track the grant approval process.

Craig Gorham
Certified Executor Advisor


Craig Gorham is a Certified Executor Advisor at Summit Legal Group, guiding clients through the Estate Administration process with compassion, empathy and a wealth of specialized knowledge. You can reach Craig directly at 587-393-2069 or

The Essential Guide to Navigating Probate Without a Will

Have you ever wondered how to navigate probate when there’s no will left behind? Although the process may seem complex, understanding it is simpler than you think.

Probate, as we’ve previously covered in this post, is a procedure for settling an estate after someone passes away. But what happens when no will is left behind? While the term ‘probate’ might not strictly apply, a comparable process comes into play. Known as a Grant of Administration from the Surrogate section of the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta, you would submit an application to the court. This empowers the estate’s executor, also known as a Personal Representative or Administrator, to manage and distribute the estate as they would under a standard probate process.

You might be asking: “What’s the difference between probate and administration?

The answer lies in the details. Both processes end with an executor named and a plan for distributing the deceased’s assets. The crucial difference is that without a will, the deceased has no say in who becomes the executor or how their estate is divided. In essence, the Alberta Courts assume that if the deceased didn’t prepare a will, they did not have specific preferences about their estate’s distribution.

Applying for a Grant of Administration for an intestate estate (an estate without a valid will) can certainly be more challenging than probate. But with the right guidance, it’s a mountain that can be climbed.

At Summit Legal Group, our mission is to empower you with the insights and expertise needed to navigate this journey successfully. We invite you to reach out to our compassionate and experienced estate team for a complimentary initial consultation.

Begin your journey with confidence and peace of mind – contact Summit Legal Group today. Remember, you don’t have to go through this process alone; we’re here to guide you every step of the way. Click here to book your free consultation now.

Craig Gorham
Certified Executor Advisor


Craig Gorham is a Certified Executor Advisor at Summit Legal Group, guiding clients through the Estate Administration process with compassion, empathy and a wealth of specialized knowledge. You can reach Craig directly at 587-393-2069 or

Get Answers to Your Probate Questions: How long does it take?

A frequently asked question from executors pertaining to securing a Grant of Probate or Administration is: ‘How long does the process take?’ (a close second to ‘What’s the cost?’). Thankfully, the era of drawn-out applications leading to postponed distributions to beneficiaries is mostly a thing of the past. Currently, over half of our probate applicants receive their approved grant within 30 days of their first consultation with our office – however it hasn’t always been that way.

In April 2022, the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta unveiled a new system for submitting and approving probate and administration grants in Alberta. This system, which came into effect on June 14, 2022, modernized the process by doing away with the old ‘NC Forms’ and introducing the simplified ‘GA Forms’. Furthermore, the new Surrogate Digital Service now enables members of the Law Society to file probate applications electronically, phasing out the traditional paper submissions.

Prior system was slow

Looking back, it’s helpful to gauge how far we’ve come. Before the changes, we analyzed all grant applications filed by Summit Legal Group at the Calgary Courthouse from January 1, 2021, to June 13, 2022. During that period, the average time between the Court ‘filing’ the application and notifying us of the grant’s approval was 89 calendar days. This, however, varied significantly with some applications getting approved in as short as 28 days and others taking as long as 193. In our experience, applications sent to the Edmonton Courthouse took longer than average to get approved while those sent to smaller city Courthouses (Lethbridge, Red Deer, etc.) usually received faster approvals.

Digital submissions are fast

Fast forward to today and the effects of the digital submission system are overwhelmingly positive for our clients. Probate applications processed during the first year of the digital service have seen an average turnaround of only 15 calendar days from the time the Clerk accepts the application until we receive approval. We’ve even seen approvals within 3 days, although we generally advise clients to anticipate 2 – 3 weeks.

Improvements with analog submissions too

On the other hand, not all applications are eligible for submission via the Alberta Court’s digital service, including all cases where the deceased did not leave a will, known as a grant of Administration, and a small percentage of probate applications. Nevertheless, the approval process has sped up here in Calgary too, with the average approval time now down to 78 calendar days – almost a two-week improvement on the old system.

With multiple lawyers in house, along with a Certified Executor Advisor, Summit Legal Group is uniquely qualified to assist you with all of your probate and estate administration needs. Please contact us and you’ll find out why we’ve earned more than 170 5-star google reviews.


Craig Gorham is a Certified Executor Advisor at Summit Legal Group, guiding clients through the Estate Administration process with compassion, empathy and a wealth of specialized knowledge. Craig can be reached directly at 587-393-2069 or

What is Probate?

Merriam-Webster defines probate as “the act or process of validating, through a competent judicial authority, a document presented for official acknowledgment and registration as the final will and testament of a deceased individual.”

But what does that mean in a practical sense?

As an executor, you may face challenges with accessing the deceased’s funds. Likely, their bank or another institution that the deceased’s funds cannot be released until you secure “Probate”. However, they typically don’t provide much further guidance apart from recommending you consult with a lawyer.

The following are key elements involved in the Alberta probate process:

1. The original signed will of the deceased is presented to the Surrogate section of the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta (the “Court”). Accompanying this submission is an application containing information about the deceased, the proposed executor(s), all beneficiaries named in the will, and any individuals with potential claims against the estate as well as a document substantiating the deceased’s death. This application includes an oath sworn by the applicant, affirming the accuracy of the provided details and of their comprehension of an executor’s duties and responsibilities.

2. The proposed executor affirms to the Court that all individuals who are required to be informed of the estate’s administration have been served the necessary documents.

3. A clerk of the Court examines the application and the will, then performs due diligence to verify the accuracy and completeness of the provided information. If any shortcomings are identified, the clerk returns the application and the Will to the applicant. They include requesting corrections be made before resubmission.

4. Once the Clerk is satisfied, the application is forwarded to a Justice of the Court. This Justice conducts additional scrutiny to validate the will, following which, if approved, they issue the ‘grant of probate.’ The grant identifies the executor(s) (referred to as the estate’s Personal Representative) and signifies to any third parties that they have been authorized by the Court to manage the assets of the deceased.

While this overview makes things look simple and straightforward, at Summit Legal Group we know that the process can be confusing… even overwhelming for the executor involved. Please reach out for a no obligation consultation to answer your questions and to provide you with some relief and guidance.

Craig Gorham
Certified Executor Advisor


Craig Gorham is a Certified Executor Advisor at Summit Legal Group, guiding clients through the Estate Administration process with compassion, empathy and a wealth of specialized knowledge. You can reach Craig directly at 587-393-2069 or

A Comprehensive Guide to Managing a Deceased Person’s Online Presence

If you’ve found yourself in the role of an executor, executrix, personal representative, or administrator, you’re likely facing a myriad of responsibilities in administering an estate. Thanks to many law firms, financial institutions, and the Canadian Institute of Certified Executor Advisors, you have access to plenty of organized lists—often free of charge—to help guide you.

However, one frequently overlooked area is managing the deceased’s online accounts and social media profiles. These assets, although more personal in value than financial, are crucial to address. In this guide, I’ve reviewed the most popular online sites and social networks in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and gathered instructions on to help you manage each platform’s specific processes.

Managing Facebook Accounts Posthumously

Facebook, the globally renowned social media network, has a dedicated page in their online help center to manage a deceased person’s account. They offer the option to memorialize an account, or to remove it if necessary. You can access Facebook’s guidelines here.

Google Accounts: Gmail, YouTube, Blogger and More

Google, home to popular services like Gmail, Blogger, and YouTube, allows users to pre-set administration preferences for their account upon their incapacitation or death. You can access their Inactive Account Manager here. If the deceased did not have this service set up, you can request the closure of the deceased’s accounts here.

Microsoft: Outlook, Hotmail, Onedrive

Microsoft requires a Court Order to modify an account posthumously, otherwise, they close accounts automatically after 2 years of inactivity. Learn more about their policies here.

LinkedIn Profiles After Death

LinkedIn allows the court-appointed executor to either memorialize or close the account on behalf of the deceased. Find out how to manage a LinkedIn account posthumously here.

Instagram: A Unique Approach

Instagram, although owned by Meta Platforms, has a separate process for managing the account of a deceased. Discover their guidelines here and here.

Twitter Policies for Deceased Users

You can request the removal of a deceased family member’s profile by providing relevant documents to Twitter. Learn more about their process here and here.

Apple: Providing a Legacy Contact

Similar to Google, Apple allows users to designate a Legacy Contact who will manage their data after their death. Learn more about Apple’s policies here.

Pinterest: A Closer Look

Pinterest, one of the internet’s most popular image-sharing services, is a bit more reserved about their procedures. You can find their account closure policy here.

In Summary

We hope this comprehensive guide will assist you in your duties as an executor, particularly when dealing with online platforms. Did we miss any platforms? Please let us know and we’ll include it in a future update.

At Summit Legal Group, one of Calgary’s top-rated law firms, we have the expertise to assist you with estate-related needs, from planning your own estate to applying for a grant of probate or grant of administration with the surrogate court. Get in touch to discover how we can support you.


Craig Gorham is a Certified Executor Advisor at Summit Legal Group, guiding clients through the Estate Administration process with compassion, empathy and a wealth of specialized knowledge. Craig can be reached directly at 587-393-2069 or

Summit Legal Group Wins 2022 Top Choice Award

UPDATED!! Summit Legal Group is honoured to WIN the 2022 TOP CHOICE for Wills and Estates!

Summit Legal Group - Top Choice Wills and Estate Law Firm of 2022

See all the winners here.


We are honoured to be in the esteemed company of all the Top Choice Award winners in Calgary and look forward to continuing to serve you in 2022!


We are honoured to be nominated for a 2022 Top Choice Award for Wills & Estates!

Winning the Top Choice Award is one of the **LARGEST ENDORSEMENTS** a business can receive within North America, so this is a HUGE deal for us!

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