All About Estates

Dr. Ken Shulman

Total 19 Posts
Dr. Shulman graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto in 1973 and did postgraduate training in Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. He then went on to do specialty training in Geriatric Psychiatry in London, England. Since 1978, he has been based at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto. He is the inaugural recipient of the Richard Lewar Chair in Geriatric Psychiatry at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto. Currently, he is the Chief of the Brain Sciences Program at Sunnybrook. Dr. Shulman has had a longstanding interest in the issue of testamentary capacity and vulnerability to undue influence and has been qualified as an expert witness in Estate matters in Ontario and Alberta. Together with colleagues he has published several papers in the area of testamentary capacity in international journals and is a frequent presenter at legal continuing education conferences on Estates and Trusts. Email:

‘Ralph the Programme Guy’ (part 2)

Last week, Audrey Miller took the initiative to blog about ‘Ralph the Programme Guy’ and reflected on the lesson learned from his ‘eccentric’ life and sad, lonely death. I hope that the blogosphere will forgive my indulgence in following up on an issue that is only indirectly related to testamentary capacity….

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Is there such a thing as a ‘Lucid Interval’ in dementia?

Among other medico-legal concepts,  the ‘lucid interval’ is a long held concept widely accepted in case law as a possible means of countering a challenge to testamentary and related capacities.  In parallel, the clinical phenomenon of cognitive fluctuation has been considered a common element of several neurodegenerative disorders (dementias) including…

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‘Hot-Tubbing’: A Cool Approach to Divergent Expert Opinions

‘Hot-tubbing’ (also known as ‘concurrent evidence’) is a practice that has become popular in Australian courts and has recently been adopted by English courts and only very recently by Canadian courts (Antonia Croake and Louise Mallon, Commercial Litigation Newsletter, October 2013 ; Ruth Corbin, Advocates Journal Spring 2014).  The technique…

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Is it appropriate for counsel to review an expert’s draft report?

A recent judgment from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Moore v Getahun, 2014 ONSC 237) has opined on the long-time practice whereby experts submit a draft report to counsel for review.  The court referenced Rule 53.03 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, which is designed to ensure that the…

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King Lear: Lessons in estate and succession planning, capacity and family dynamics

The Stratford Festival has included ‘King Lear’ among this year’s performances.  ‘Lear’, of course, is the poster boy for older adults who use poor judgment in determining how and when to distribute their assets to their children.  The opening of King Lear reveals the King’s intent to divest his kingdom…

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Will It Be a MoCA or Cappuccino?

A Canadian contribution to the commonly used cognitive screening instruments is the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), published by Nasreddine et al in 2005.  Unlike the Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) or the clock-drawing test (CDT), the MoCA is designed to detect more subtle impairments of cognition, known clinically as Mild Cognitive…

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Set the time to ’10 past 11′

Clock-drawing has become one of the standard cognitive screening tools used around the world.  How did this particular test achieve such popularity and why is it so useful? Originally, the clock-drawing test was cited in a leading Neurology textbook as a means of specifically assessing parietal lobe function in the…

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Principles behind capacity assessment

The capacity to execute a Will, Power of Attorney (POA), manage Property or Personal Care or marry are cognitive tasks determined by an admixture of legal, statutory and clinical guidelines and factors. Hence, the need for a truly collaborative approach to their assessment and legal determination. In the case of testamentary…

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A medical perspective on Estate matters – a chastened viewpoint

I am very pleased to join the Allaboutestates blog to add a perspective on the role of the physician in estate matters. I recall vividly the first time I was asked in court: “Dr. Shulman, in your opinion did Mr. X have testamentary capacity at the time he executed his…

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