Michael Ford (post until Oct. 31/18)
Estates & Wills & Trusts

Online creditor notices 'the way of the future' for trustees

Estate trustees will save time and money after the Ontario Superior Court recognized an online service for publishing notices to creditors, says Toronto trusts and estates lawyer David Mills.

In a recent judgment, Justice Barbara Conway ruled a posting on NoticeConnect, a web-based platform for publishing and accessing legal notices, satisfied the requirements of s. 53 (1) of the Trustee Act, which protects trustees from personal liability for any debts owed by the deceased.

Mills, the managing partner of Mills & Mills LLP, tells AdvocateDaily.com that estate trustees traditionally satisfied the requirements of the section by placing an advertisement in a local or national newspaper.

“If you do that on a weekly basis for three or four weeks it’s going to cost around $1,000, and it’s not exactly user-friendly. This decision is good news for clients who don’t want to spend any more money than they have to on administering an estate while remaining diligent, and doing everything they need to in order to be protected,” says Mills, who acted for the estate trustee in the case.

“This is how we’ll be advertising for creditors from now on. It’s the way of the future: fast, easy and inexpensive, so I don’t see any reason why you would continue placing notices in newspapers."

Mills says the popularity of the site, which charges users $130 to post a notice, has grown significantly in recent times among estate lawyers looking for a more modern and effective alternative to newspaper notices.

However, he says the court’s stamp of approval will allow the service to appeal even more widely by removing any lingering doubts some may have.

“Lawyers by their nature are very cautious, and because no court ever said explicitly that this method satisfied s. 53(1), they couldn’t tell their clients that they were protected from liability,” Mills says.

He says the site’s search-engine optimization techniques and its reposting of notices on social media platforms also make for a more effective and targeted service than the old newspaper method.   

“The founders gathered evidence from a number of leading estates lawyers who consistently said they have never had a response to a newspaper ad,” Mills says. “There’s a much higher likelihood that creditors who are affected will actually find out using NoticeConnect.”

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