Estates & Trusts Law > Vancouver Estate Litigation Lawyers
Estate disputes tend to be emotionally charged. In some cases, disagreements over a loved one’s estate can tear a family apart and cause lasting family feuds. An experienced estate litigation lawyers in Vancouver are sensitive to these issues and strive to resolve disputes as smoothly and peacefully as possible, without delay.
You should not have to navigate the process alone if you are embroiled in an estate-related dispute. That will only increase your stress and may in fact worsen the impact of the dispute on your relationship with family members. Instead, seek guidance from our Vancouver based estate litigation lawyers. We provide trusted legal advice and clear, effective strategies for dispute resolution.
We believe it’s important to know your legal rights and obligations before making any decisions. That’s why we offer 30 minute free consultations to give you the opportunity to discuss your matter with a passionate and knowledgeable Onyx team member who can advise you on the best steps forward.
The property left behind by a deceased person is called their “estate.” A deceased’s person’s estate typically includes real estate, assets like bank accounts and vehicles, and other personal belongings. When a dispute arises over a deceased person’s estate, estate litigation may be necessary to enforce a right or claim to the estate.
But estate litigation is even broader than that. Assets such as RRSPs, insurance proceeds, and trust property pass outside of the deceased person’s estate. Disputes in relation to true ownership of these types of assets are dealt with in estate ligation matters. Challenges to gifts or property transfers made during the deceased’s lifetime can, too.
Estate litigation also covers disputes relating to Powers of Attorney, Representation Agreements, Trust Deeds, valuation of estate assets, misappropriation of assets, and myriad other issues relating to the administration of the deceased’ estate (for example, a claim to remove an executor; a claim challenging executor’s fees). When probate matters become contentious, estate litigators draw upon their litigation experience to obtain court orders needed to administer the estate of a deceased person.
The roles of a solicitor and a litigator are quite different. When talking about wills and estates law, a solicitor provides estate planning advice and prepares legal documents to achieve estate planning goals. Estate planning lawyers regularly assist clients with preparation of Wills, Representation Agreements (for health care), Powers of Attorney, Alter Ego Trusts and Joint Partner Trusts, Disability Trusts, and other estate planning tools.
The main objective of an estate planning lawyer is to structure affairs to transfer the maximum amount of wealth to a person’s chosen beneficiaries with the least amount of delay, while also protecting against legal challenges. We have a team of highly skilled Vancouver estate law lawyers who can help you create a comprehensive estate plan that incorporates planning for future incapacity to ensure your financial, legal and health care can be appropriately managed.
Estate litigators, on the other hand, handle legal disputes involving estates and trusts. An estate litigation lawyer assists clients to resolve disputes covering a wide range of issues (see the next section for some common examples). Depending on the client’s needs and the issues in contention, an estate litigator can bring a lawsuit in court and/or explore alternative dispute resolution options such as negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. If out-of-court settlement is not possible, an estate litigator will take the case to trial.
In addition to representing clients in court, estate litigators provide legal advice and effective dispute resolution strategies to beneficiaries, executors, administrators, trustees, guardians, and other family members who are involved in estate litigation matters. The main objective of an estate litigator is to achieve a speedy resolution that is just and fair for their client.
BC estate litigation cases can include a variety of disputes, such as:
Depending on the issues at stake, the estate litigation claim may be brought against the deceased’s estate (e.g., by disinherited children), in the name of the deceased’s estate (e.g., to recover misappropriated funds or assets), against a trustee or the deceased’s personal representative (e.g., by beneficiaries for delay or breach of fiduciary duty), or against a third party suspected of wrongdoing (e.g., a caregiver suspected of fraud, elder abuse, or undue influence).
Estate law is complex. It is an option to try to handle estate litigation on your own—but doing so is fraught with risk. If you choose to represent yourself, be prepared. Estate litigation involves reviewing and preparing extensive amounts of paperwork including court applications, petitions, affidavits, and court orders. It also requires knowledge of the detailed rules of procedure and awareness of deadlines/limitation periods that apply at different stages of the court proceedings.
If the matter proceeds to trial, you will need to gather and properly present all evidence to support your case and be prepared to know and effectively argue the law. Then, when it is all said and done, how can you be sure that the outcome is fair?
Sound scary? That’s because it is. All litigation is complicated and stressful, but estate litigation is even more so as it involves the death of a loved one and deep strife among friends and family members. You need a litigator who understands estate law on your side.
When you choose to work with an estate litigation lawyer, you get the benefit of their knowledge and experience in the legal system. Your lawyer will ensure you understand your rights, inform you of your legal options, and advise you on the best strategy for achieving results. Our team of Vancouver estate litigation lawyers have the practical know-how, sensitivity, and creativity to get results.
From the outset, your litigation lawyer is driven to help your estate claim succeed. Your lawyer will meet with you to gather information about your case and handle investigation of your claim in detail. Your lawyer will provide you with an opinion on the strengths and risks involved in your case and update you if new evidence or information changes their initial opinion. You can’t make smart decisions without knowing all of that critical information and how the law applies in your situation.
Our Vancouver estate litigation lawyers offer an extensive range of services, customized the needs of your case. Beyond researching and investigating claims, services include drafting court applications and petitions, including relevant facts and law. After court proceedings have been started, the process of discovery begins. Your lawyer will continue to gather and examine evidence and witnesses, using subpoenas and/or other court motions to secure testimony and documents (e.g., Wills, bank records, a notary or lawyer’s files). Litigators also assist by securing specific estate assets and overseeing the personal representative’s management and distribution of estate property.
Your estate litigation lawyer will represent you in court at each stage of the proceedings. Throughout the process, your lawyer will also engage in negotiations with other parties and their lawyers to attempt to achieve the best possible outcome in your case without the necessity of a trial. Before a trial is held, your lawyer will explore alternative dispute resolution options with you, using mediation and other processes to achieve the most favorable result in your case with the least expense.
If settlement is not reached, your estate litigation lawyer will take your case to trial. Conducting a trial is a significant endeavor. It requires examination and cross-examination of witnesses and experts, making opening and closing statements, and arguing the relevant law in a clear and convincing manner. Your lawyer will take care of all of this for you.
When you have experienced counsel in your corner, you can rest assured that timelines are met, your rights are protected, and results are fair.
Of course, you will need to consider the lawyer’s qualifications, experience, and reputation in the legal community. You want a lawyer who devotes their practice to estate litigation as opposed to a general practitioner who will not have the same level of knowledge of complex estate laws and rules of procedure.
Another tip is to meet with the estate litigation lawyer before you decide who to hire. An initial consultation with the lawyer will give you the opportunity to get a feel for their communication style and whether you feel comfortable working with them. You may need to share intimate details and private information with your lawyer. Choose a lawyer you trust and have confidence in.
When it comes to estate litigation, we are empathetic, creative, and focus on the results you want. We offer a 30-minute free consultation to give you the opportunity to discuss your matter with a passionate and knowledgeable lawyer who can advise you on the best steps forward. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain.
If you have an issue with the Executor or Administrator of a will or trust, it is possible to challenge them. Their legal duty is to act in the best interests of the deceased person’s estate or the beneficiaries of the trust. If there is a question around conflict of interest or whether they will act with honesty, you may have a legal case.
Unfortunately, after a person’s death, Trustees will often deny the existence of a trust, and claim that an asset was gifted to them. We represent people who wish to challenge the rights of another person to the assets they have received as a result of another’s death. While the trustee may claim the assets were a gift, our clients may claim they were meant to be distributed by the trustee to others in the family.
According to law, an individual is required to ensure that their spouse and children are not unjustly disinherited and are adequately provided for. We launch wills variation claims on behalf of spouses and children who have been unjustly excluded from an estate.
We represent clients who need the advice and guidance of a lawyer in order to secure their fair share from their deceased spouse’s estate. In every instance, we engage each client to understand his or her objectives for legal action. We offer practical and effective solutions tailored to meet their needs.
These types of cases can be complex and difficult to prove, however, and may attract an award of special costs against you (if you fail to prove an undue influence claim). If you are concerned that undue influence or lack of capacity was a factor in your loved one’s estate plan, it is essential that you seek advice from an experienced estate lawyer.
We believe in our clients. Our dedication to justice includes helping those who have given of themselves for the benefit of others to receive what they are owed. As in all of our will dispute cases, we take the time to listen to our clients and understand what their goals are in seeking legal advice. We then offer efficient and practical legal solutions to meet their needs.
Elder abuse is, unfortunately, a common occurrence and fact of everyday life in modern society. There are many cases where an unsuspecting testator is taken advantage of by a person they trust – often a spouse or child to execute testamentary documents to distribute their estate in ways that are against their actual wishes.
Individuals have the right during their lifetimes to give away property as they wish or to hold it jointly with another person. For this reason, beneficiaries may be surprised to learn which of their loved one’s assets are considered assets within the estate and which are not included in the will.
Our cases vary significantly from client to client as each one seeks a just remedy in his or her circumstances. Estate disputes can arise in scenarios that revolve around the validity of a will or the actions of an executor. Claims can also be made on assets both inside and outside of a will.
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be considered legal, financial, tax, medical, or any other professional advice.