On Virgin Radio Vancouver 94.5

Lattes & Law

Find out the answers to your legal questions by tuning in to Lattes & Law on Virgin Radio Vancouver at 94.5, every Wednesday morning at 8:15AM.

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Family Law Q&As

Wills & Estates

My parents’ house has been put in my sibling’s name. What can I do to get it back in my parent’s name?

Unfortunately, this is more common than most people might expect. Essentially, the law is on your side. Just because the title is in somebody else’s name, doesn’t mean it belongs to them. It actually means that they may be holding it in trust for their parents. We have mechanisms at our disposal that we can use to make sure the title is back in your parent’s name where it rightfully belongs.

My family member has died, what do I do next to carry out what is said in their Will?

When someone dies, and their assets need to be transferred, it’s either governed by their will which says to whom their assets are to be distributed. Or if there is no will, it is governed by legislation that has a formula for the distribution of assets. However, there is a procedure that most be followed, and we not only guide the administrator in that process, we also ensure that administrator is protected.

How can I ensure most of my estate goes to my kids and not the government?

Well, there are many options which have been upheld by the courts as legitimate structures available to you to ensure that you pay as little to the government as you are required. We work with you, and your advisors to make the best use of these tools for you and your plan, so that the people and the causes you care most about receive as much as possible from your estate.

When is it the right time for someone to make their first will?

So, the answer to that question is the lawyer’s favourite response: it depends. One situation I can say for sure is if you are expecting, or already have children, and don’t have a will, now’s the right time to check that off your list. Having kids is the reason that pushed me to make my first will, for myself and many of my clients, making sure who you get to choose will be the guardian of your children, if you experience an untimely death, is reason enough to get that first will crafted and signed.

Insurance Denials Q&As

Can I sue the insurance company if they deny my claim?

Yes, most of the time. There are circumstances where you cannot sue but these are rare. To determine whether you can and should sue, a lawyer needs to review your insurance contract and the reasons for the insurance company’s denial. While the insurance company may offer an internal appeal, that process is usually stacked against you. A lawsuit can even the playing field. However, time limits as to when you can sue do apply so it’s important to talk to a lawyer very soon after a denial of benefits.

Can I afford to hire a lawyer if my insurance claim is denied?

People who are disabled and not working often do not have money set aside to hire a lawyer. At McQuarrie, we understand that. That is why we always offer free initial consultations. And if we take on your case, we will do so in a way where there are no up-front costs to you. We fund the cost of the litigation and our legal fee is only paid if we achieve a monetary pay out to you. It is based on a percentage of what we recover. We do this to help people gain access to legal services they otherwise could not afford.

What kind of disability claims do insurance companies deny?

We notice that the “invisible” illnesses, meaning ones that cannot easily be measured, observed and detected from the outside, are often the ones that are denied. Examples include depression, anxiety, chronic pain and fatigue. Insurers will often deny these claims based on the lack of “objective” evidence. But just because there is a lack of objective evidence, doesn’t mean these conditions aren’t real and disabling. Having a lawyer on your side to navigate this situation often leads to a favourable outcome.

How long does it take to settle a denied insurance claim?

It depends on a number of factors but typically claims get resolved somewhere in the range of 8 months to a year and a half. Complex cases may take a bit longer to resolve. Other factors that may influence the time include scheduling appointments, court time and medical examinations. It seems to go pretty fast though because there is always something going on. Without this process in place, it is very unlikely that the parties would ever reach a place of resolving the claim in a manner that results in a payment. So, while it takes time, it can be worth it.

In an insurance case, what does ‘bad faith’ mean?

Insurance companies owe a duty of good faith to their customers. Meaning, they must adjudicate claims in a fair and timely manner – and most of them do – most of the time. However, if the insurance company mishandles the claim to the point of incompetence or treats you with contempt or harasses you to a breaking point then such behaviours may be considered acts of bad faith and subject to punitive damages. Remember, just because there’s a disagreement doesn’t mean there’s bad faith. But if you feel mistreated by your insurer, talk to a lawyer for guidance.

Can I go on disability due to a toxic work environment?

The insurer will likely deny such a claim saying that it does not insure against a crappy or stressful workplace – that you’re not actually disabled because you would be capable of carrying out your job duties in a healthier work environment. Of course, that completely ignores circumstances where a workplace conflict causes a psychiatric illness such as depression or anxiety. In such circumstances the insurance company should pay the LTD benefit. Changing employers will not cure a mental illness and if that’s what your insurer is suggesting – call a lawyer.

Is it a breach of my privacy when an insurance company looks at my social media?

No! Insurance companies will do deep dives into any or all of your social media posts. They are looking for information regarding your daily activities –Pictures, videos, Harmless or joking comments may all be taken out of context leading the insurance company to conclude your capacity is greater than what you are telling them. Be careful about what you post and what others post about you. It could have unintended consequences that are really difficult to overcome. If your insurer is denying your claim because of social media posts, talk to a lawyer.

Dispute Resolution & Litigation Q&As

I entered into a verbal agreement but didn’t put it into a written contract – is it enforceable?

Yes, most verbal agreements are enforceable by law. However, they are often very difficult to prove in court, unless you are also able to secure omissible and corroborative evidence in support of the agreement, things such as text, emails, or a live witness that was present when the verbal agreement was made would be helpful, but regardless it is best practice to reduce the agreement to writing and have it signed by contracted parties.

I’m a commercial landlord and my tenant is not paying rent – do I have to go to the Residential Tenancy Board?

No, the Residential Tenancy Board only has jurisdiction over disputes involving residential tenancies, not commercial tenancies. In most cases, there is a written lease agreement that sets out a landlord’s rights and remedies, which must be carefully reviewed before taking action. Many leases require the landlord to give written notice of a default, like failure to pay rent, and a give a certain period of time to the tenant. Before taking action, give us a call to find out what your options are.

My partner and I purchased a property with my in-laws and things are not going well – is there anything I can do?

Yes, under the Partition of Property Act, a co-owner of land may seek either a partition or a sale of the co-owned land. The Act sets out a process that allows for the marketing, sale, and division of profits between the co-owners, and in some cases, an accounting to find out who gets what. In many instances, these cases can be resolved without a court application with an accounting to follow after the sale of the property.

I’m a shareholder in a small business and no one there will return my calls – am I entitled to anything/what should I do?

Well, even as what we call a minority shareholder, you have certain rights that you should be aware of. Under the BC Corporations Act, unless waived by unanimous resolution of shareholders, directors of a company holding an annual general meeting, must bring the annual financial statements of the company to the meeting, provide a copy to the shareholders at the meeting, and send a copy to any shareholders requesting them. In some cases, a refusal to provide a minority shareholder with financial statements may give rise to a claim for what’s called a [unsure], which may entitle a minority shareholder to host a [unsure].

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