Our clients appreciate our efficient, results oriented approach to Wills and Estate litigation disputes. If you have been left out of a Will or believe that you have not received your fair share of an Estate, we can provide legal help in order to get you your fair share of an Estate under the BC Wills Estate and Succession Act also known as “WESA.” In addition to rules under WESA, you might also be able to make a claim for unjust enrichment or a constructive trust. Another example in which a Will might be contested is where there is a lack of necessary mental capacity in the testator (the person who made the Will), or because of undue influence – for example one family member pressuring the testator to make certain provisions. Elder abuse is, unfortunately, becoming more and more common. In some cases, an unscrupulous family member, friend, or acquaintance might illegally influence an unsuspecting person into creating or signing legal documents such as a Will, Power of Attorney, or Property Transfer without truly understanding the consequences. There are legal remedies available for many of these situations including the Court finding that a Will is invalid if the Deceased lacked the mental capacity to make a Will, or if the Deceased experienced undue influence from another person at the time the Will was signed. Estate Planning Challenges Sometimes a parent or spouse may put the family home or a bank account into joint ownership (or “tenancy”) with another family member, in order to avoid the costs and time delays of probate. Unfortunately, while the parent or spouse may have planned for that that person to share the asset with other members of the family after death, the person might claim that it was an outright gift. In other circumstances the case is reversed, family members will claim partial ownership of something that truly was intended as a gift to just one person. This is just one example where careful planning is essential. Power of Attorney If a deceased person has signed over power of attorney, that person can sometimes abuse that power and make financial decisions that are not in the best interest of the family. Anybody who has been granted power of attorney has special duties required by law. The Courts view them as a Trustee who must not use the Power of Attorney for his or her personal benefit. If a person who has granted Power of Attorney fails to fulfill their fiduciary duty, we can file a breach of trust claim with the Courts that may then be used to recover assets. Constructive Trust and Proprietary Estoppel Claims Many times estate plans attempt to ensure no assets remain in the estate, so that upon death there are no probate taxes and no assets for excluded beneficiaries to claim against. In these cases there be may be a trust claim, a proprietary estoppel claim or a fraudulent conveyance claim. Furthermore, unscrupulous individuals may take advantage of an infirm elderly person to improperly influence them to change their Will to transfer assets away to this person before death. There are remedies available but it is important to try take steps to ensure the elderly relative is not taken advantage of. We also handle Family Law Issues Lorne N Maclean, Q.C. and Nicholas Davies are also senior Vancouver family law lawyers who, along with their team of BC Wills and Estate lawyers at MacLean Law are available to assist you with Estate disputes or to challenge a Will involving any Estate located either wholly or partly within British Columbia. From our four offices in Vancouver, Surrey, Kelowna, and Fort St John we offer our services just about anywhere in the province. Time Limits It is crucial to move quickly. We are available to assist you to ensure no Estate distribution occurs until your claim is heard. For a BC Will Variation claim there is a six-month time limit. This time limit begins after probate is issued in a British Columbia Estate. Although the time limit is slightly longer for a claim of unjust enrichment or constructive trust, time is of the essence in all contested estates. Our firm also offers mediation and arbitration services in an effort to resolve disputes at an early stage.
MacLean Estate Litigation handles Vancouver, Kelowna, Fort St John, and Kelowna Estate Litigation, Contested Wills, Disputed Wills claims, Wills Variation, Unfair Will Claims, Disinherited Beneficiary Claims, Trust Claims, disputes over Improper/Undue Influence claims involving elder testators, and the and newly revised BC Wills Estates and Succession Act (“WESA”).
We have four BC Estate Litigation and Contested Wills Variation dispute offices conveniently located in Vancouver, Surrey, Kelowna, and Fort St John, and are able to provide experienced and professional legal services to clients anywhere in British Columbia.