All About Estates

Feeling Like an Apostille Imposter

Today’s blog is being brought to you by guest blogger, Krista Brown, a law clerk in the Private Client Services group of Fasken LLP.

Working with high net worth clients and their complex estates, I come across new terminology, challenges and scenarios each and every day, which keeps me engaged after years of practice.

Recently, I came across a request that left me feeling puzzled. I sent a probate application to the United Kingdom to be sworn by executors in front of a Notary Public. Once the UK Notary reviewed the probate application, she sent an email asking the question: “Will Canada require the Apostille?” My first thought was, what is an Apostille? I consulted all-knowing Google for this one. It turns out that an Apostille is an additional authentication required for international acceptance of notarized documents, such as adoption papers, affidavits, birth certificates, contracts, death certificates, etc. The probate application includes affidavits to be sworn by UK residents and then submitted to an estates court in Ontario. Now, armed with a definition, I conducted more research and learned that Canada is not a signatory to The Hague Apostille Convention. What is The Hague Apostille Convention, you ask? It is an international agreement governing how a document issued in one country can be certified for legal purposes and used in another country, referred to as the apostille process. However, because Canada is not a signatory, one cannot obtain an “apostille” on a Canadian document. Instead, if signatures have to be certified on documents, our process is referred to as “authentication and legalization”.

Today, like many other days, I log off armed with a new and useful piece of knowledge. Who knows what I’ll learn tomorrow…

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About Maureen Berry
Maureen Berry is a partner in the Trusts, Wills, Estates and Charities group at Fasken. Maureen’s practice is focused on wills, estate planning, domestic and international trusts, private corporation taxation, and executive compensation. Maureen also advises charities and non-profit organizations. Working with Canadian and international families, firms, corporations and charitable organizations, she provides advice on all aspects of private client matters. She is a leading expert in the fields of tax law and estate planning. As an Adjunct Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, she teaches Advanced Estate Planning. Maureen has previously taught corporate tax and international tax at the University of Toronto and Western University, along with the Bar Admission course for up-and-coming lawyers.

1 Comment

  1. Jill Bone

    September 4, 2020 - 5:22 pm

    I have recently been asked to have a notarized document “guaranteed” which will involve confirming that the person who notarized it is registered with my provincial government and then sending the documents to them to be guaranteed. Very interesting to see how different jurisdictions deal with these kinds of cross border issues.

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