Canada: Embracing Change
Last Updated: August 6 2018

We all sense the increasing speed of change that permeates all aspects of our everyday lives. Whether it's technology, political or economic events, or even the weather with climate change, the constant is change itself.

And with constant change comes the need to adapt to it, or even better - embrace it. In observing the laws of natural selection, Charles Darwin observed that "it is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change". Resilience and adaptability have become the buzz words of our age. A more positive approach to change is not only accepting it, but embracing it and enjoying the challenges of change as a philosophy of life. As the Japanese intellectual Kakuzo Okakura stated, "The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings". 

Embracing change is the theme for the third Global Congress of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, a global professional organization which deals with family inheritance and succession planning with over 20,000 members, to be held in Vancouver in September. I have the pleasure and honour to be Chair of the program committee. The Global Congress will bring together hundreds of the most senior trust and estate practitioners from six continents and over 40 jurisdictions in a biannual gathering to explore and discuss the major changes that are or will in future impact the world of family inheritance and succession planning and strategies to deal with them.

Some of the thought provoking topics to be discussed include dealing with family inheritance and succession planning needs of people in an increasingly diverse world, both multijurisdictional and multicultural, in order to be culturally intelligent and provide the best solutions; the movement towards a UN convention on the rights of older persons (see our blog on this topic); evolving decision-making models for persons with diminished capacity, an issue which is at the forefront given our aging population where many of us will live for years with diminished capacity - a phenomenon the world has never experienced before (see our blog on this topic); multi-parent families and reproductive technology and its impact, including children born using genetic material after the biological parent's death and the effect on wills and succession planning (see our blog on Ontario law on this topic); rethinking family wealth and communication on family values and succession issues with family members, including the next generation (see our blogs on these topics) Oct 31/17, Mar 1/17; the move to global tax transparency to clamp down on tax evasion and the resulting current labyrinth of reporting and registration requirements we now deal with and what the world will look like in years to come on this front; and a culminating debate by four advocates, two from civil law jurisdictions (France and Argentina) and two from common law jurisdictions (England and U.S.), on whether testamentary freedom and the ability to leave your assets to whom you wish, including disinheriting children, is a better approach than that of most civil jurisdictions that impose a mandatory scheme among family members, including giving children fixed inheritance rights of a portion of an estate (see our blog on this topic).

The aspiration of the Global Congress is to provide an opportunity to learn strategies to embrace change, expand horizons and to be a crucible to forge new thinking by looking into the future in a compelling way that only a meeting on such an international scale can provide. As Program Chair of the Global Congress, I am looking forward to this event and to sharing with each of you in a future blog some of the key and most interesting thoughts, ideas and new directions that emerge from the Global Congress.

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