AMHERST – William Fairbanks says April 17 will be a celebration. It’s Law Day, and the start of a week commemorating the actions of then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Queen Elizabeth on that date back in 1982.
“They brought the constitution home to Canada,” said the lawyer, who practices out of Fairbanks Law Office on Church Street.
The member of Cumberland Barristers Society will be conducting a free seminar at the Four Fathers Memorial Library that evening, starting at 6:30 p.m. The topic will be writing wills. It’s a seminar he’s done for almost three decades.
“Wills have to be done in a particular way,” said the lawyer.
According to Fairbanks, the issues faced by those who write wills without the input of a legal professional boil down to two questions: Did I get it right, and will it be thrown out if I didn’t? A will written with a lawyer is more formidable to those who might contest it than an amateur document, he said.
Fairbanks called the seminar an opportunity to have questions answered.
“…Get free legal advice,” he said.
Fairbanks said one thing that may surprise those who attend is the legal status of common-law relationships when it comes to wills: common-law partners do not have the same protections as married spouses.
“We have a lot of handouts, too,” said the lawyer.
The society will also be presenting to students at ARHS and E.B. Chandler, as well as the Rotary Club. A proclamation from the mayor is expected to run in this newspaper April 17, said Fairbanks.
The law has practical applications but philosophical underpinnings. Fairbanks spoke about the kinds of rights the charter guarantees Canadians.
“Rights have to be balanced…,” he said.
He gave the example of the right to practice religion: the right to express one’s religion by wearing a burkha may clash with the right of a defendant to face an accuser in court.