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Estates and Trusts Litigation

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When you are faced with a dispute about a loved one’s assets, will or estate, partnering with our experts who specialize in creatively resolving such disputes is critical to achieving the best outcome. Families, unfortunately, can become embroiled in disputes and disagreements as parents or loved ones age or become vulnerable, and also following death. Recognizing that these can be trying times, we bring our decades of knowledge and experience to act in your best interests.

We have a team of lawyers who specialize and focus only on this practice area, and who can draw on the expertise of our estate planning and administration team to bring a creative and holistic approach to your dispute. We take great pride in achieving the best results for our clients through in-depth enquiry, a highly personal approach and dedicated expertise in this area of law. We use various techniques and strategies through negotiation, mediation and advocacy at all levels of Court in British Columbia.

All families are unique and so too are the circumstances involving their disputes. We cannot list all of the circumstances that may apply in the myriad of situations that we have addressed over the years, but should any of these circumstances apply to you, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Pre-Death

  • Disputes about the ownership of assets, including property and money – holding assets in trust
  • Challenging transactions transferring assets – validity of transactions, including apacity and undue influence
  • Concerns about your loved one’s mental capacity to take care of his or her personal and financial affairs or concerns about your loved one’s vulnerability to others – committeeship
  • The conduct of someone appointed under a Power of Attorney or Representation Agreement – breach of fiduciary duty

Post-Death

WILLS

  • Whether a document is a Will
  • Whether a Will is valid – capacity, knowledge and approval and undue influence
  • Interpretation and rectification of a Will
  • Whether a valid Will is fair in distributing the estate – wills variation

ESTATES

  • What assets are or should be in the estate
  • The suitability of the executor appointed in the Will and who is best suited to administer an estate
  • The executor’s or administrator’s administration of the estate
  • The executor’s or administrator’s estate accounting

TRUSTS

  • Attacking or defending Trusts
  • The role and conduct of trustees
  • Trust accounting

These disputes arise in circumstances that may be highly emotional, among those with close relationships or at a time of grief at the loss of a loved one. You will benefit not only from the expertise but also from the personal attention of our dedicated team of lawyers to the details of your particular circumstances, both of which you need both to successfully resolve your dispute.

We bring a team approach working with you to achieve the best results for you; but, first it starts with a conversation.

Book your consultation and speak with one of our Estate Litigation experts. We will listen to you, then explain the legal issues that apply to your situation and discuss with you the options for proceeding. We will develop a strategy with you that is tailored to your specific circumstances, and hold your hand as we work through the process for achieving your best outcome.

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Ownership of Assets

Disputes about the ownership of assets, including property and money.

Challenging transactions transferring assets – validity of transactions: capacity and undue influence.

Things may not always be as they appear:  Legal title does not necessarily equate to actual ownership of an asset, whether it is a home, recreational or investment property, bank and investment accounts.  The circumstances surrounding the purchase or acquisition of an asset will determine who truly owns that asset.  The asset may be held it in trust, unless a gift was made.

Even when a gift is made, the circumstances around making that gift must be carefully considered to ensure that the donor intended to make the gift of his or her own free will and volition.  The donor must have had the necessary mental capacity to know and understand what he or she was doing and must be free from undue influence in making the gift.

Non-monetary contributions can also lead to an ownership interest in an asset such that the registered owner is holding it in trust for the person who contributed to its acquisition, maintenance and improvement.

Your specific circumstances deserve the careful, focused attention that we bring to each of our clients in resolving their disputes.

Power of Attorney, Representation Agreement and Committeeship

Concerns about your loved one’s mental capacity to take care of his or her personal and financial affairs or concerns about your loved one’s vulnerability to others

When someone is not capable of managing his or her financial and legal affairs or making decisions about his or her care, his or her Attorney, appointed under a valid Power of Attorney, or Representative, appointed under a valid Representation Agreement, can attend to those financial and legal affairs and make healthcare and other care decisions.

The Attorney and the Representative are under an obligation to act in the best interests of the person who granted them that authority.

In the absence of a valid Power of Attorney or Representation Agreement, or should there be concerns about the Attorney’s or the Representative’s actions, Court appointment of a committee (guardian) is required.  The committee can be appointed as committee of estate – to attend to financial and legal affairs, and/or committee of person – to attend to day-to-day living, and to healthcare decisions.

We have extensive knowledge and decades of experience with committeeships to which all relatives consent as well as contested committeeships.

In some cases, it may be time to rescind or undo the appointment of a committee based on medical evidence that a committee is no longer necessary, as the person is mentally capable of attending to his or her financial and legal affairs.  We can also assist you with rescinding committeeship appointments.

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