Legal Services for Individuals & Families

Estate and Trust Litigation

McQuarrie Hunter is a leader in estate litigation

We have a dedicated team of lawyers who practice in this specialized area. We bring our wealth of experience and expertise to assist clients with legal disputes that often involve other family members. We adopt a collaborative, solutions-based approach to working with our clients as they deal with difficult and sensitive issues.

What is Estate Litigation?

Estate litigation is a specialized area of practice. It involves disputes among family members, friends and associates in the area of Wills, ownership of property, and caring for elderly or those unable to care for themselves or manage their personal and financial affairs. Estate litigation issues are not limited to matters that arise after a person has died but may also involve issues that arise before someone’s death. [ Read More… ]

Our Experience & Approach

Our Estate & Trust Litigation Department has been dedicated to serving the residents of British Columbia for over 45 years in this practice area. Our department consists of a team of lawyers who represent clients at both the Supreme Court of British Columbia and the British Columbia Court of Appeal. Our lawyers are also skilled at representing clients in all forms of dispute resolution processes including: mediations, judicial settlement conferences and much more.

We recognize that this may be a difficult time for our clients. Using our in-depth knowledge of the legal system, we work with you to resolve your dispute and are able to draw upon the experience and expertise of our tax, Wills, estate planning, real estate, corporate and other lawyers in our firm. This approach ensures that we are able to properly advise you on all aspects of estate and trust litigation and provide you with a solution that is tailored to your specific situation. Our goal is to work efficiently to ensure that you receive the best service possible.

Ways in which we can assist you

Estate & Trust litigation is often a complicated area of law that can give rise to a variety of issues. The list below gives examples of some of the most common issues with which you may be faced before and after a loved one passes away. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list.

Issues Related to Existing Wills

If you are named in a Will, either as a beneficiary or heir, a trustee, or an executor, you will need to know your rights and responsibilities. We can advise you of these rights and responsibilities under both common law and relevant legislation in British Columbia. [ Read More… ]

Issues Related to Challenging the Validity of a Will or Setting Aside a Will

A Will is a complex legal document. In British Columbia, there are specific rules that must be followed in order to create a valid Will. These rules are set out in the Wills, Estates and Succession Act (“WESA”) and judge-made law or “common law”. If there is doubt about the way the Will was created, the Will may be vulnerable to attack. If a Will is successfully challenged and declared invalid and the person who died did not have a previous Will, then his or her estate will be distributed according to the WESA. [ Read More… ]

Issues Related to Varying a Will under the WESA

Under the Part 4, Division 6 of WESA, a will-maker or testator has certain obligations towards his or her spouse(s), including common-law spouse(s), and children, including legally adopted children and children born outside of marriage, alive at his or her death. In British Columbia, even if a Will is technically valid, the will-maker must still make “adequate, just and equitable” provision for spouses(s) and children. If the Will does not properly provide for them, the children or spouse(s) have a right to challenge the distribution of the estate under the Will. [ Read more… ]

Issues Related to Ownership of Assets

At times, people in close relationships, and family members in particular, will enter into financial and non-financial arrangements to facilitate transactions, such as the purchase of assets. Often, the terms of their arrangements may be unclear and conflicts as to ownership rights may arise. You may have a right to a claim in unjust enrichment. In British Columbia, a court may impose a constructive or remedial trust as a remedy in these types of situations. [ Read more… ]

Issues Related to the Care of a Person

When your family members are healthy, they can understandably care for themselves and make important decisions. However, due to age, health problems, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other reasons, a person may become unable to care for him or herself or unable to make important life decisions involving his or her financial and legal affairs. In these situations, an application to the court may be required to appoint a person(s) to make these decisions on their behalf. This person(s) becomes the “committee”. We can help you navigate the adult guardianship legislation that govern the care of incapable persons, including the Representation Agreement Act, the Health Care (Consent) and Care Facility (Admission) Act, the Adult Guardianship Act and the Patient Property Act. [ Read more… ]

Issues Related to Breach of Duties and/or Elder Abuse

Often, as members of our family age or encounter health problems, they need assistance in managing their personal, financial and legal affairs. Unfortunately, they are placed in a position that is also vulnerable to financial and emotional abuse or neglect by others. When a person, such as an attorney under a Power of Attorney or a legal representative under a Representation Agreement, is entrusted with the care of another, the caregiver should act in the best interests of that person. In doing so, the caregivers must fulfill certain legal duties called fiduciary duties that are required of them to ensure the proper care of their ward. The duties and powers of these various individuals may be set out in legislation, such as the Power of Attorney Act, Representation Agreement Act or Trustee Act, or at common law or “judge made” law. [ Read more… ]

Contact Our Firm

Estate and trust litigation is a complex area of law. Our Estate and Trust Litigation Department has extensive knowledge, experience, and expertise to help you. As with any dispute, there may be sensitive deadlines in the Limitation Act or other legislation that you must meet to ensure that your rights are protected.

If you need our assistance, we ask that you not delay and contact our department chair, Jacy J. Wingson
Phone: 604.581.7001
Email: jwingson@mcquarrie.com

Alternatively, you may contact Ms. Wingson’s assistant, Dianna Seifried
Phone: 604.580.7054
Email: dseifried@mcquarrie.com

DISCLAIMER: The contents of this webpage are intended for general information only and is not intended to be legal advice. Please review our Terms & Conditions for further information.

Lawyers in this area:

Jacy J. Wingson, QC, Partner
jwingson@mcquarrie.com
604.581.7001 
Leah K. Donaldson, Associate
ldonaldson@mcquarrie.com
604.581.7001 
Amalia E. Szilagyi, Associate
aszilagyi@mcquarrie.com
604.581.7001