- Awards & Recognition
- Professional Involvement
- Selected Speaking Engagements
- Selected Publications
Melanie is a dedicated expert in estates and trusts law. Her personal approach and genuine desire to understand her clients’ individual circumstances allow Melanie to provide strategic, tailored advice. She is focused on providing practical, cost-effective solutions that address her clients' personal and financial needs.
A member of the Estates & Trusts Group and lead lawyer for the Estates, Trusts and Capacity Litigation Group, Melanie's practice covers all areas of estates and trusts, including estate planning and estate administration, with a particular focus on litigation involving trusts, estates and capacity issues. She also has many years of experience in corporate/commercial litigation. Melanie’s practice extends beyond representing individuals and families to advising trust companies. She also serves as a third-party mediator in estates, trusts and/or capacity disputes.
As a frequent speaker and writer on estates and trusts topics, Melanie presents at, and sometimes chairs, programs for professional and educational organizations, including the Law Society of Ontario, the Ontario Bar Association and The Advocates' Society. She is the editor of and contributor to Key Developments in Trusts and Estates Law, which was published annually by Canada Law Book for more than a decade. Melanie is active in the community, serving on the Board of Directors of the Toronto Council on Aging and the Benefaction Foundation.
Awards & Recognition
- Recognized in The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory as a leading lawyer in Estate & Personal Tax Planning (Estate Litigation)
- Recognized in The Best Lawyers in Canada in the field of Trusts and Estates
- Recognized in Chambers HNW: The World's Leading High Net Worth Advisers for her expertise in Private Wealth Disputes (Canada)
- Trust and Estate Practitioner designation (TEP)
- Included in ReferToHer's Trusts & Estates Litigation list
- STEP Mental Capacity Global SIG Steering Committee Member (2019-present)
- CBA National Wills, Trusts and Estates Section, Past Chair (present), Chair (2017-2018), Vice Chair (2016-2017) and Executive Member (2014-2016)
- Steering Committee of CBA Will, Estate and Trust Fundamentals for Estate Practitioners, Past Chair (October 2015-2017)
- OBA Trusts and Estates Section, Past Chair (2012-2013), Vice-Chair (2011-2012) and Secretary (2010-2011)
- Canadian Bar Association (National Wills, Trusts and Estates Section)
- Estate Planning Council of Toronto
- Ontario Bar Association (Trusts and Estates Section)
- Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP Canada)
- The Advocates' Society
- The Toronto Council on Aging, Board of Directors (2018-present)
- BenefAction Foundation, Board of Directors (2016-present)
- Leaside Curling Club, Weekend Mixed, Executive Member (2015-present)
- Lawrence Park Collegiate Institute Parent Council, Chair (2009-2011)
- Macaulay Child Development Centre, Board of Directors (past)
- Multiple Sclerosis Society (Ontario Division), Board of Directors (past)
- Toronto Community Foundation, Professional Advisors Committee (past)
- Instructor for The Advocates' Society
- Guest Instructor at Osgoode Law School, Intensive Trial Advocacy course
- Sessional Instructor at Queen's Law School, "Appellate Advocacy," Fall 2007
Selected Speaking Engagements
Co-chair, “The Annotated Powers of Attorney for Property and for Personal Care 2023,” The Law Society of Ontario program, January 26, 2023.
Speaker, "With the Benefit of Hindsight: Unintended Consequences of Settling a Discretionary Family Trust in the Context of an Estate Freeze," STEP Canada 24th National Conference, June 17, 2022.
Speaker, "The Escalation of Elder Abuse During COVID-19: Practical Strategies for Protecting Yourself and Loved Ones," Aird & Berlis Estates & Trusts Webinar, April 15, 2021.
Co-chair, “The Annotated Powers of Attorney for Property and for Personal Care 2021,” The Law Society of Ontario program, March 25, 2021.
Speaker, "Complex Passing of Accounts: How to Handle Multiple Years and Complex Passings," Estate Accounting and Passing of Accounts 2021, Law Society of Ontario, January 26, 2021.
Speaker, "Take That to the Bank," STEP Canada 21st National Conference, June 7, 2019.
Co-chair, “The Annotated Powers of Attorney for Property and for Personal Care 2019,” The Law Society of Ontario program, February 21, 2019.
Speaker, "Tackling Unsettled Issues in Trusts and Estates Law,” Ontario Bar Association's Institute 2019, February 7, 2019.
Speaker, "Preparing and Passing Fiduciary Accounts: When, Why and How to Avoid a Dispute,” Ontario Bar Association, December 12, 2018.
Speaker, “Examinations in Chief and Cross-Examinations in Dependent Support Applications,” Advocates' Society, October 29, 2018.
Speaker, “Joint Ownership of Property,” Canadian Bar Association, October 11, 2018.
Speaker, B’nai Brith Estates Disputes Seminar, May 30, 2018.
Speaker, “End of Life Decision Making,” Aird & Berlis Webinar, January 24, 2018.
Speaker, “Effective Estate Planning for Blended Families,” RBC and Royal Trust Company presentation, October 26, 2017.
Speaker, “Five Things Every Litigator Needs to Know about Estate, Trust and Capacity Issues,” Colloquium 2017, Sudbury, October 13, 2017.
Speaker, “The Family Cottage,” Aird & Berlis Webinar, October 5, 2017.
Speaker, “Will Challenge Advocacy for Estate Litigators – Expert Evidence,” Advocates' Society, Toronto, September 28, 2017.
Speaker, B’nai Brith Estates Disputes and Pre-nuptial Agreements Seminar, May 21, 2017.
Speaker, “Challenges of Probate Planning,” STEP Toronto, May 17, 2017.
Co-chair, “The Annotated Powers of Attorney for Property and for Personal Care 2017,” The Law Society of Upper Canada Program, February 24, 2017.
Speaker, "Litigation Overview," CBA Will, Estate and Trust Fundamentals for Estate Practitioners, October 29, 2016.
Co-chair, “Managing, Mediating and Litigating Estate Disputes,” Osgoode Program, March 30, 2016.
Speaker, “Legal Lens on Women’s Health Facing Cancer: Thinking Beyond the Doctor’s Office,” Aird & Berlis LLP Webinar, February 25, 2016.
Panelist, “Bankruptcy and Estate Law: Administering Insolvent Estates,” The Law Society of Upper Canada Program, October 30, 2015.
Workshop leader, “Removing Executors/Trustees, A Trustee’s Duty to Disclosure and Interpreting and Constructing Wills,” CBA Will, Trust & Estates Fundamentals Course, October 15 to 18, 2015.
Speaker, "Contested Passing of Accounts," OBA Program, November 2014.
Chair, "Managing, Mediating and Litigating Estate Disputes," Osgoode Program, September 2014.
Co-chair, "Across the Country in 90 Minutes," OBA Program, April-June 2014.
Speaker, "Judge's Corner: Guidance from the Bench on Orders for Assistance and Ex Parte Relief," OBA Institute, February 2014.
Speaker, "Evidentiary Issues in Estate Litigation: A Practical Perspective," The Law Society of Upper Canada 16th Annual Estates and Trusts Summit, November 11, 2013.
Speaker, "Framing Issues and Exploring Early Resolution Opportunities," Managing, Mediating and Litigating Estate Disputes, Osgoode, June 2013.
Speaker, "Preparing the Will," Will and Estate Planning - A Primer, OBA Program, September 27, 2012
Speaker, "Five Noteworthy Aspects of Estate Litigation," The Law Society of Upper Canada Civil Litigation Summit, May 22, 2012.
Co-chair, "The Challenges Posed by the Issue of Capacity: The Impact upon Estate Planning, Estate Administration and Estate Litigation," OBA Trusts & Estates Law 2012 Institute, February 9, 2012.
Chair, “The Nuts and Bolts of Bonding,” OBA Trusts and Estates Section Program, November 29, 2011.
Speaker, “A Solicitor’s Duty of Care when preparing Wills and Powers of Attorney – How to Avoid or Withstand Challenges,” Estates and Trusts Summit, November 8, 2011.
Co-chair and Speaker, "Dependant Support Relief Applications," OBA Program, September 27, 2011.
Speaker, "Estate Planning," The Association of Dental Technologists of Ontario, July 8, 2011.
Speaker, "Beneficiary Designations," 9th Annual OBA Pension & Benefits Hot Spots Conference, May 17, 2011.
Chair, "Capacity Assessments," OBA Trusts and Estates Section Program, April 13, 2011.
Co-chair, OBA Annual Institute, Trusts and Estates Section Program, February 3, 2011.
Speaker, "Compensation Clauses for Powers of Attorney for Personal Care," LSUC Drafting and Administering Powers of Attorney for Personal Care and Property Program, September 16, 2010.
Speaker, "Powers and Duties of Attorneys: 'Resolving' Vexing Issues," The Advanced Intensive Program in Wills, Estates and Trusts, Osgoode PD, March 25 and 26, 2010.
Chair, "Dealing with Assets Outside the Jurisdiction," OBA Trusts and Estates Section Program, February 23, 2010.
Co-speaker (with Clare Sullivan, Lorna Schoenroth, Fauzia Ahmed), "Guardianships and Powers of Attorney," Client Seminar, October 27, 2009.
Chair, "Dead and Busted: The Challenges Posed by Insolvent Estates," OBA Trusts and Estates Section Program, February 24, 2009.
Speaker, "Planning for the Inevitable: Tips for Ensuring Your Intentions Are Achieved on Incapacity and Death," Eglinton St. George's United Church Presentation, November 16, 2008.
Co-chair, "The Dependants’ Support Application: from Notice of Application to Trial," OBA Trusts and Estates Section Program, October 20, 2008.
Co-speaker (with Clare Sullivan, Lorna Schoenroth, Fauzia Ahmed), "Post Death Planning and Administration of an Estate," A&B Tax Breakfast Club, October 17, 27 and 31, 2008.
Co-speaker (with Clare Sullivan, Lorna Schoenroth, Fauzia Ahmed), "Confronting the Two Certainties: Death & Taxes," A&B Tax Breakfast Club, September 19, 22 and 26, 2008.
Chair, "Power of Attorney Fraud," OBA Trusts and Estates Section Program, March 25, 2008.
Speaker, "The Notice of Objection – For the Capital Beneficiary," OBA PD, November 29, 2007.
Discussion Group Facilitator, "Issues Relating to Appointment and Discharge of Trustees and Vesting," Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners' Symposium, November 6, 2007.
"Acting for the Capital Beneficiary on a Passing of Accounts," Passing of Accounts: Getting Cost Effective Results OBA Program, November 2007.
Speaker, "Troublesome Issues Relating to Powers of Attorney for Property and Personal Care," 10th Annual Estates and Trusts Summit, November 5, 2007.
Chair, "Topical Issues in Will Interpretation," OBA Trusts and Estates Section Program, October 23, 2007.
Speaker, "The Lawyer as Estate Trustee," CLE Teleseminar, September 20, 2007.
Speaker, "Kissing Cousins III: Family and Estates Law," OBA Family and Estates Law Section Program, June 4, 2007.
Co-speaker (with David Malach, Louise Summerhill), "Minimizing and Managing the Risk of Litigation in Your Estate Planning Practice," A&B Tax Breakfast Club, March 20, 23 and 26, 2007.
Editor and contributor, Key Developments in Estates and Trusts Law in Ontario, published annually by Carswell (2008-present).
"Protecting Elders from Financial Exploitation: The Limits of the Law: Case Comment on McMullen v. McMullen  B.C.J. No 2900 (Fisher J.)," Deadbeat, OBA Trusts & Estates Section Newsletter, March 2007.
"Inter-Vivos Family Trusts and Lessons Learned in the War of the Roses: Case Comment on Rose et al. v. Rose," Deadbeat, OBA Trusts & Estates Section Newsletter, February 2007.
- Mediating Disputes Program, Harvard Negotiation Institute, 2018
- LLB, University of Toronto, 1991
- B.Com., Queen's University, 1986