News & Publications

Farmer’s Advocate Office Advisories

MHR Law LLP has requested copies of advisories from the Farmers’ Advocate Office as a concrete step in keeping our clients and affected citizens educated regarding their legal rights, and presenting viable, cost-efficient options for resolution to issues commonly faced by Alberta Farmers. Thanks to the Farmers’ Advocate Office for forwarding these materials for distribution. Copies of past advisories may be accessed by clicking on the links below:


Trident Open House

On June 25, 2019, lawyers from MHR Law attended the Central Mountain View Advisory Group’s open house on Trident Exploration at Reed Ranch School. Speakers from the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), Surface Rights Board, Orphan Well Association and Farmers’ Advocate Office presented a high-level overview of options for land owners affected by Trident’s cessation of operations. Concerned landowners are encouraged to sign up for the Farmers’ Advocate Office’s distribution list for advisories from the FAO setting out information and advice on legislation, rights and responsibilities related to surface leases. Copies of advisories are also available by contacting the FAO office through 310-FARM (3276). MHR Law has seen an increase in calls from clients regarding delinquent surface lease payments, and will continue to look for ways to educate affected landowners and present viable, cost-efficient options for resolution.


Olds & District Chamber of Commerce

Congratulations to MHR’s Dan McPherson on being nominated to the Olds & District Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors for a 3-year term! MHR supports the Chamber’s vision of engaging and inspiring integrity, respect and collaboration in our business community, and looks forward to continuing to support the Chamber.


Everything Olds

MHR is pleased to announce that we are now listed on the Everything Olds Business Directory under Professional Services. is a fantastic website and hub for, you guessed it, everything Olds! Thanks to the Olds Institute for Community and Regional Development for their efforts in developing this great tool, and for helping support local businesses! If you haven’t visited the site yet, check it out to find a great directory of local professionals and services!


MHR Law LLP voted “Business of the Year” in Didsbury

MHR Law LLP is honoured to have received the Didsbury & District Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Business of the Year Award (11+ employees). The Award is given each year to “the Didsbury & District business that best exemplifies innovation, direction and successful modeling. This company incorporates values into their business, and has a commitment to Didsbury & District. The Business of the Year is a model for other businesses to emulate.” We would like to thank those who nominated us for this Award for their support and vote of confidence, and extend our heartfelt congratulations to our fellow Business Awards nominees and winners, including Dick’s Auto Service, GEM Auto, Didsbury Massage & Wellness Centre, Didsbury Chiropractic & Massage, ATB Financial, William Jensen and Ride for Dad. We also wish to take this moment to express our sincere appreciation to our clients for continuing to entrust our firm with their matters, and to our employees for their commitment to delivering the exceptional, accessible and innovative legal solutions that our clientele has come to expect from us. We extend our thanks the Didsbury & District Chamber of Commerce for their contribution to strengthening our local business community. We are thrilled to continue serving our clients in Didsbury and surrounding areas, and supporting our community through volunteering, pro bono work and sponsoring local events and causes. Sue Kary, Isabelle Cadotte, Wanda Mudry and Heather Koltusky, (R-L), pictured below with Brian Chita, President of the Didsbury & District Chamber of Commerce (far left), attended the Didsbury & District Chamber of Commerce Business Awards Gala this past Saturday, October 20, 2018, at the Didsbury Elks Lodge.

Should You Incorporate Before the End of the Year?

As unique a lifestyle as farming and ranching is, it is also a business with assets that have seen an increase in value of the past 20 years. Just as with non-ag businesses, there are a number of legal structures available to ranchers, regardless of the exact nature of your farm or ranching operation. One option is the corporation. When you file the necessary paperwork with the Corporate Registry, you create a corporation, which is a separate legal person that owns and operates the business. This form of business ownership is becoming more common, and the 2016 census numbers from Statistics Canada show a 45% increase in the number of incorporated family farms in Canada in the last ten years, as the follow table shows: Source: Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0158-01   Farms classified by operating arrangement, historical data As the end of the 2018 tax year approaches, many ranchers, along with their accountants and legal advisors, will be taking stock to determine if their current legal structure still fits their needs, or it is time to reorganize. Why Incorporate? If your ranch generates more revenue than you need to cover your personal expenses in any given year, it is probably time to incorporate.  Maybe it is time to allocate the future growth of the farm to the next generation, but you still want to make the major decisions. You may wish to give an equity stake in the ranch to a child-in-law while ensuring that the original homestead and the lands used in the business stay in the family should your child divorce.  A corporation is separate from your personal affairs, and having this additional ‘person’ in the mix opens the door for tax and estate planning strategies that cannot be implemented with a proprietorship or a partnership. Some advantages of having a corporation include:
  • the corporation can have multiple owners (called shareholders), each with different types of rights to control the business and earn a profit;
  • shareholders can make agreements, called unanimous shareholder agreements, about how they will operate the business and who can be a shareholder;
  • With contracts and leases, you can bring the next generation more certainty in your estate and succession plans, as assets are owned by the corporation directly and corporations can exist indefinitely;
  • the assets of your business can be transferred, or “rolled over”, to the new corporation on a tax-neutral basis;
  • income splitting between spouses and children is available in some circumstances; and
  • small business tax rates are lower than most personal tax rates, so there is a tax deferral when you re-invest the profits back into the business.
That is not to say that corporations do not have any drawbacks:
  • a corporation is more complex and expensive to establish and operate than a sole proprietorship;
  • corporations are taxed directly, so a corporate tax return must be filed every year;
  • future financing is more complicated;
  • farmland owned by a corporation is not eligible for the lifetime capital gains exemption; and
  • annual filings are required to keep the corporation ‘alive’.
What does incorporating entail? The decision to incorporate starts with a discussion with your accountant to determine if doing so will result in tax savings. Then, your lawyer will help you complete the incorporation process, from choosing a name and creating bylaws to issuing shares. While you can incorporate at any registries office, it is best to use a lawyer because the corporation must be set up with specific features, and you will save money by doing it correctly from the outset. Your accountant will advise on the timing of the incorporation and any rollovers to transfer assets to the new corporation, and your lawyer will prepare the paperwork for these transactions. You will also need permission from your lender if you have mortgages, equipment loans or lines of credit. If you think you might need the corporation as part of your 2018 tax planning, it has to be incorporated before December 31, so start the conversation with your accountant soon.   This article provides legal information only. You and your ranch are unique and deserve quality legal advice that considers your specific circumstances.   By Douglas S. Martinson, Heather F. Koltusky, Isabelle Cadotte and Genevieve (Genny) Loxley © MHR Law LLP, 2018   This article also appears in the October 2018 edition of Alberta Beef Magazine.

“It’s My Future” Award

On Friday, September 14th, Olds High School hosted Awards Night where students are rewarded for their academic accomplishments and commitment to the Mountain View County community. Justin Harlton had the honour of attending as the presenter on behalf of MHR Law which donated the “It’s My Future” Award. This award is given to the grade 11 student who best articulates in essay format his or her future goals and demonstrates taking steps to achieve those goals. We were thrilled to receive so many well-written submissions for the prize this year, and we wish all candidates an excellent grade 12 year.