The lawyers in our Wills and Estates Group are experienced in assisting clients with all aspects of a comprehensive plan to prepare for personal or business succession. They routinely work with executors or trustees to administer estates or trusts, and assist beneficiaries, executors or trustees with all types of litigation-related issues.

The Goal of the Wills and Estates Group

Whether you are coming to us to design your estate plan, to assist you with the probate or administration of an estate, or to provide advice about litigation involving an estate, beneficiary or executor – we draw on our extensive experience with planning, administration and litigation with cost-effective and innovative solutions.

Estate Administration

Being named executor can be a daunting experience. From drafting applications and probate materials to assisting with executor accounts, we assist many executors, administrators or trustees in navigating through this experience with creative solutions to the challenges and problems that arise in dealing with a deceased person’s estate. Our team can assist with:

• Addressing and dealing with defects in a will, including when an original will cannot be located
• Working with an executor, administrator or trustee to locate and determine a deceased’s person’s assets and liabilities
• Assisting with the navigation of the family dynamic
• Adjusting the terms of a will
• Resealing a foreign grant of probate to use it in British Columbia
• The winding up of an estate and the discharging of an executor, administrator or trustee

Estate Litigation

The death of a loved is, for many reasons, an emotional experience. It is not uncommon for disputes to arise after someone has passed away and many disputes may be heighted due to the emotional vulnerability of the situation. Our team has experience in all facets of estate litigation and will work with you to find a solution that best suits your needs. In particular, we work with clients in:

• Will variation and beneficiary claims
• Disputes over gifted assets

Disputes are not limited to events arising after death. Often during our lifetimes, disputes can arise as capacity, disability and/or mobility become issues. With our aging population, the issue of adult guardianship is consequently becoming a more common issue. We are experienced in helping families through these issues, and the difficult process involved the appointment of a committee for an incapacitated adult.

Estate and Capacity Planning

In any estate plan, there are three main areas to plan for: the event of loss of capacity, your future health care, and disposition of your assets on your death. We consider all of these, and your unique circumstances, in putting together a comprehensive succession plan to ensure your assets are protected, your beneficiaries taken care of, and your future capacity (or loss thereof) provided for. We draft and designs suites of documents including:

• Wills
• Representation Agreements
• Powers of Attorney
• Advance Directives

We also work with our clients to consider and utilize trusts in any estate plan. There are a number of different ways in which trusts can be used in planning and they can be an invaluable tool for reducing or delaying tax liabilities, preserving wealth, insulating your estate from litigation and transitioning your estate. They must, however, be carefully drafted to ensure that the goal of having a trust is effectively carried out. For that reason, we often work closely with our clients’ financial advisors or accountants to prepare and implement a plan including trusts that best suit our clients’ needs. We also have experience setting up trusts designed to ensure those who receive disability benefits can continue to do so. Often utilized trusts are:

• Family Trusts
• Alter Ego Trusts
• Spousal Trusts
• Disability Trusts