Vancouver Estate Litigation Lawyers
Disagreements about an estate’s distribution can arise in situations with or without a Will and can be highly emotional. Family members may feel they have received an inadequate portion of the estate or have been unfairly disinherited by a testator and wish to challenge the Will. In other cases, beneficiaries may have concerns about an executor’s conduct. They may request the court remove the executor or force the executor to account for how they have handled the estate’s assets.
The talented and determined estate litigators at Meridian Law Group in Vancouver provide skilled representation and pragmatic advice for clients involved in estate disputes. They help clients resolve estate disputes swiftly and with as little conflict as possible to preserve estate assets.
Application for Committee
Not all types of estate litigation arise after death. A committee is an individual or entity that takes control of a person’s finances or care when they become mentally incapable of making their own decisions. The court grants this power through an Application for Committee.
Meridian Law Group represents clients on either side of a committeeship dispute, including passing of a committee’s accounts, actions to remove a committee from their duties, and claims for any loss caused by a committee’s conduct.
Meridian Law Group provides persuasive and compelling advocacy for the rights of senior citizens, as protected by elder law. The firm’s estate litigation lawyers represent clients in cases involving financial, physical, or emotional elder abuse by individuals or negligent institutions, including nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
Powers of Attorney
A Power of Attorney grants an individual (the attorney) decision-making power over someone’s finances and property. This power is often given by the person (the donor) in case of a triggering event, such as illness or incapacity. Some Powers of Attorney are effective immediately and may or may not be limited in duration.
Unlike a committee, an attorney cannot make health or personal care decisions for the donor. However, as with committees, attorneys must account for their conduct under the Power of Attorney. Meridian Law Group represents clients in Power of Attorney disputes through compelling and skillful advocacy.
Executors are responsible for administering a person’s estate after their death. They may be held personally accountable if they cause undue delay in the estate’s distribution, act incompetently, or misuse estate funds.
Meridian Law Group represents beneficiaries, executors, and any other party involved in an executor dispute. The firm advocates for clients in a number of executor-related court actions, including:
- Orders for accounting for all steps taken and funds distributed by an executor in the administration of an estate;
- Applications for orders removing an executor from their duties; and
- Claims for damages to compensate an estate for losses caused by executor conduct.
Some estate plans use trusts to hold and protect assets for a loved one. A trustee is responsible for administering the trust according to its terms. Trusts can minimize the amount of taxes owed when the trust’s creator (the settlor) dies, or the assets are transferred to the beneficiary.
Meridian Law Group skillfully represents beneficiaries and trustees in a variety of trust disputes, including:
- Challenges to the validity of a trust;
- Claims for breach of trust arising from a trustee’s conduct; and
- Applications to court to vary the terms of a trust.
Will disputes can be emotionally complex and highly contentious. To minimize the cost and stress that accompany estate litigation, the lawyers at Meridian Law Group employ all available methods to negotiate or mediate an early settlement. If settlement is not possible, the firm’s estate litigators will mount a vigorous trial strategy to protect their clients’ interests and secure their rights and entitlements under the law.
Contesting the Validity of a Will
After a person’s death, a family member may have concerns about the validity of a purported Will. A Will is invalid where the person who made the Will lacked testamentary capacity (for example, due to mental incapacity) or was subject to undue influence by someone else. Challenges may also be brought against a Will that does not comply with legislated requirements for estate documents.
Additionally, the terms of a Will or suspicious circumstances may also raise questions about its validity, as in a situation where a Will excludes family or friends or disproportionately benefits one child or a second spouse. Unfortunately, it is a reality that vulnerable individuals can be manipulated by people in their lives, especially when it comes to their estate plans.
Meridian Law Group understands the complex nature of these issues and provides seasoned representation in estate disputes where legality or enforceability of a Will is in question.
Disinherited Spouses or Children (Will Variations)
Where a valid Will does not provide a fair share of an estate to a spouse or child, British Columbia estate law permits the spouse or child of the deceased to challenge the terms of the Will. This is known as a Will variation action. Each case turns on its own unique facts and the strength of the arguments put forward. The estate lawyers at Meridian Law Group have decades of experience representing client interests in Will variation claims through compelling advocacy that delivers results.
Determining Estate Assets
In cases involving a challenge to a Will or executor, parties may need to determine whether jointly-held estate assets or property that was transferred before the testator’s death will form part of the estate. Concerns may arise that a person has orchestrated a transfer for their own benefit, contrary to the deceased’s wishes and to the detriment of the estate.
Meridian Law Group has in-depth knowledge of the evidentiary challenges that can arise when reviewing the distribution of estate assets. The firm skillfully represents clients on either side of such disputes and ensures that their entitlements are secured under the law.
Trustee & Executor Obligations
Trustees and executors are fiduciaries, meaning they owe several duties to the beneficiaries of the trusts or estates they administer. They are held to a high legal and ethical standard and must act in accordance with the terms of the trust or Will.
The experienced estate litigators at Meridian Law Group have extensive knowledge of trustee and executor obligations under the law. The firm represents beneficiaries and fiduciaries in court actions regarding a fiduciary’s duties, including:
- Passing of accounts requiring a trustee/executor to detail all financial transactions executed in the administration of the trust/estate;
- Applications for an order removing and replacing the trustee/executor; and
- Lawsuits against a trustee/executor for financial loss caused by their mishandling of the trust/estate assets or breach of the terms of the trust/Will.
Contact Meridian Law Group in Vancouver for Skilled Representation in Estate Disputes and Litigation
Since 1988, Meridian Law Group has provided clients with trustworthy advice and skilled advocacy in estate litigation matters. The firm’s estate litigators take action to swiftly and decisively resolve disputes to secure clients’ legal rights, avoid financial damage to an estate, and preserve relationships wherever possible.
Located in downtown Vancouver, Meridian Law Group is a cornerstone of British Columbia’s legal community with a reputation for exceeding client expectations. The firm represents clients in West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Coquitlam, Penticton, Kelowna, Richmond, New Westminster, Burnaby, Surrey, Langley, and White Rock. To speak with a knowledgeable lawyer or arrange a confidential consultation, reach out online or call (604) 687-2277.