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Recovery of Stolen Inheritance in British Columbia


Disclaimer: The contents of this blog are provided for information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.

Before a person passes away, they often prepare a will or trust that dictates how their assets are to be distributed after their death, be it to their family members and/or friends, known as the will’s or trust’s beneficiaries.

Beneficiaries can inherit a deceased person’s assets, properties, or funds. Unfortunately, inheritance, just like any other possession, can be subject to theft.

In British Columbia, beneficiaries may have recourse for stolen inheritance through various legal mechanisms such as bringing a claim in court, mediation, or arbitration. Seeking legal advice from litigation lawyers specializing in estate law can help beneficiaries navigate the complexities of the legal system and pursue the appropriate course of action to recoup stolen inheritances effectively and efficiently.

If you want to know more or wish to discuss your stolen inheritance claim, reach out to Onyx Law Group. Our knowledgeable estate litigation lawyers can provide insight and help you recover your stolen inheritance in British Columbia.

This blog aims to offer an understanding of different approaches for reclaiming stolen inheritances in British Columbia.

How to Recover Stolen Inheritance in BC – Immediate Steps You Need to Take

How to Recover Stolen Inheritance in BC - Immediate Steps You Need to Take

Inheritance theft can be defined as the illegal appropriation of assets, properties, or funds intended to be allocated to beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of a will or trust.

A common scenario where inheritance theft occurs is when an executor of a will or trust has engaged in fraudulent activity or theft by appropriating portions of a deceased person’s estate without providing an accurate accounting to the beneficiaries. On other occasions, estate assets may disappear due to the executor’s lack of attention to detail.

If you suspect that your inheritance has been stolen, you’ll want to obtain the following documents as soon as possible:

  • Estate documents. Estate documents can include the will, trust documents, probate records, and any communications related to the inheritance.
  • Financial records. Financial records related to the estate, namely bank statements, investment account statements, and tax documents.
  • Communications. If there are any communications including emails and letters with the executor, other beneficiaries, or anyone involved in the estate.

Next Steps

Theft and fraud are criminal activities and if you believe that they have occurred, report the matter to the police and contact Onyx Law Group, as our experienced estate litigation lawyers can provide more insight on the next steps required for a strong stolen inheritance claim.

Legal Framework in BC for Inheritance Recovery

Legal Framework in BC for Inheritance Recovery

The Wills Estates, and Succession Act (WESA) offers increased assurance to individuals drafting a will and streamlines the procedure for those tasked with administering an estate.

Among its benefits, the act:

  • Clarifies the inheritance procedure in cases where a person passes away without a will;
  • Concisely delineates the order in which heirs to an individual’s estate should be identified; and
  • Grants the courts greater discretion to uphold the final desires of a deceased person.

The Supreme Court of British Columbia plays a crucial role in inheritance disputes by serving as a judicial body responsible for resolving legal conflicts related to estates and inheritance matters within British Columbia. One of the roles of the British Columbia Court is to interpret wills to determine the intentions of a deceased person regarding the distribution of their assets.

Wills play a crucial role in protecting inheritance rights by providing clarity, ensuring asset distribution according to the deceased’s wishes, and minimizing the potential for disputes and delays in settling an estate. As mentioned above, if a person dies intestate, their estate will be distributed as per the terms of the WESA. If you want your estate to be clearly distributed to your beneficiaries without room for interpretation, you must prepare a legally binding will.

If you are looking to have a legally binding will prepared, or have already prepared a will and are considering its validity, we welcome you to reach out to Onyx Law Group, as our experienced wills and estates attorneys can help you with drafting a will or reviewing the validity of an already prepared will.

Legal Avenues for Recovering Stolen Inheritance

Legal Avenues for Recovering Stolen Inheritance

The initial step to prove a stolen inheritance involves gathering compelling evidence. Strong evidence primarily consists of physical documentation rather than solely relying on oral testimony from yourself or others. However, in certain cases, oral testimony may also prove to be beneficial.

The next step would be to contest the will or trust in a British Columbia Court. This will require court appearances by yourself if you do not retain an estate attorney. If you do retain an estate attorney, they will appear in court on your behalf and represent your best interests.

An alternative way to resolve a stolen inheritance claim is to proceed by way of mediation or arbitration. The process is similar to appearing before a British Columbia Court in that the settlement in both mediation or arbitration is binding on all parties, and that strong documentary evidence is required, but it is less formal and more cost-effective than going to court.

Executors have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the beneficiaries. One of the main duties of an executor is to provide an accounting to the beneficiaries periodically. If a beneficiary disputes the executor’s accounting, they have the option to formally contest the accounts through a process known as a passing of accounts.

Our experienced estate law lawyers can represent you in your claim for stolen inheritances in a British Columbia Court, mediation, or arbitration.

Consult with our experienced team today at (604) 305-2923.

Preventative Measures to Protect Your Inheritance

Preventative Measures to Protect Your Inheritance

A meticulously drafted and regularly updated will ensures that your estate benefits your loved ones but also simplifies the administration process. Conversely, an outdated will may result in unfavorable outcomes, such as possible legal conflicts among family members and the distribution of your estate according to intestacy laws rather than your specific wishes.

When selecting an executor or trustee for your will, you’ll want to be certain that the person is trustworthy, has integrity, understands your wishes, is available and committed to the role, and has financial and organizational skills to administer the estate properly. Although it is allowed in British Columbia law to have a beneficiary of the will or trust also named as the executor of said will or trust, consider this decision carefully as a potential conflict of interest could arise.

One of the key roles of an executor is to prepare an accounting of estate assets, debts, receipts, disbursements, and distributions of the estate for approval by the beneficiaries and rightful heirs (or the court).

An executor has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of beneficiaries. The executor should keep beneficiaries reasonably informed about estate assets and estate property and provide an accounting for the estate promptly. While there is no set timeline, it is good practice for an executor to keep anyone with an interest in the estate updated on their potential inheritance and the expected date for the distribution of assets.

Need help Recovering Stolen Inheritance in BC?

Preparing a comprehensive and accurate will prior to your death is pertinent to safeguarding your assets and ensuring that they are distributed according to your wishes to your beneficiaries. A will also lessens the chance of your assets, the beneficiaries’ inheritance, being stolen.

If your inheritance is stolen, there are legal remedies and courses of action to recoup what is rightfully yours such as bringing a claim before the British Columbia Court or having a mediation or arbitration.

We believe it’s important to know your legal rights and obligations before making any decisions. That’s why we offer a 30-minute free consultation to allow you to discuss your matter with a passionate and knowledgeable team member.

The resilience of individuals and families in overcoming financial disputes is a testament to the human capacity for adaptation and perseverance. Despite facing challenges, including financial disputes and possible inheritance theft, many individuals and families demonstrate remarkable resilience in navigating these obstacles and finding constructive solutions, either alone or with the help of legal counsel.

FAQ – How to Recover Stolen Inheritance in BC

What constitutes inheritance theft?

Inheritance theft is the illegal appropriation of assets, properties, or funds intended to be allocated to beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of a will or trust.

How can I determine if inheritance theft has occurred?

Identifying signs of inheritance theft such as missing assets, unauthorized transactions, or discrepancies in estate documentation.

What legal recourse do I have regarding inheritance fraud?

There are various options in estate disputes such as taking legal action or scheduling a mediation or arbitration.

What role does the probate court play in estate law?

Probate is a process that verifies if a will is real in British Columbia. It lets the court know what to do with that deceased person’s assets.

Misconception: The executor or personal representative has complete control over the estate and its assets.

While the executor has a fiduciary duty to manage the estate responsibly, they must adhere to the instructions outlined in the will and act in the best interest of the beneficiaries. They are accountable to the court and may be removed if they fail to fulfill their duties properly.

Misconception: Beneficiaries can contest a will simply because they are dissatisfied with their share of the inheritance.

Mere dissatisfaction with the terms of the will is not sufficient grounds for contesting it. Contesting a will requires valid legal grounds, such as lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, or fraud.

Misconception: Beneficiaries have the right to demand personal property or specific assets from the estate.

The distribution of assets from the estate is determined by the terms of the will or intestacy laws (under the WESA) if there is no will.

Have questions about a topic?

Onyx Law Group represents clients in family law, estate and trust litigation, estate planning and probate matters. Consult with our experienced team at 
(604) 900-2538

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