Legacies – General or Specific

Re Wood Estate 2004 BCCA 556, contains a good discussion on the differences between general and specific bequests, aka legacies. There are generally two classes of legacies — specific and general. Halsbury’s Laws of England (4th ed. 1998) describes the categories as follows: A specific… Read more

BC Court Rules Sperm Freezer at UBC Was Like a “Warehouse Rental”

  Lam vs the University of British Columbia 2013BCSC 2094, involved a class-action suit brought by hundreds of sperm donors that had stored their sperm with the defendant University, and their sperm was damaged as a result of the sperm freezer malfunctioning. At issue was… Read more

30 Year Commonlaw Spouse Awarded $150,000 More Than His Half of the Assets

Griese v Syvret 2013 BCSC 1601 is a wills very action trial involving a couple that lived in a commonlaw relationship for 30 years before the death of the commonlaw spouse in 2010 at age 84. Her major asset was the matrimonial home which they both… Read more

What Happens to Your Data After You Die?

Reprinted From Forbes Magazine. When you die, you’ll leave behind a digital presence – dead data, or a graveyard in the cloud. The only things certain in life are death and data. Data After You Die? Every year, Facebook cheerfully suggests I reconnect with some friends… Read more

Taking Instructions and Testamentary Capacity

Will makers must always conduct an assessment of mental capacity when taking will instructions. In 1992 I was Plaintiff’s counsel in the decision Mikita v. Lick. The action involved a 10 day trial, in which I succeeded in setting aside a will and transfer, prepared… Read more

What Is a Testamentary Document?

It is often difficult to determine if a document is testamentary or not when it purportedly takes effect upon death. Shortly before writing this article, I settled a Wills Variation action on the eve of trial where the deceased had deliberately used an estate planning… Read more

Lost Wills

Lost Wills An update to this article is that since the introduction of WESA on April 1, 2014, I anticipate that the courts will be more willing to allow copies of wills as proof of the testator’s intention to more easily admissible into probate. Many… Read more

Forfeiture Clauses in Wills

Bellinger v. Fayers, Nuytten  2003  BCSC  563 discussed inter alia forfeiture clauses in wills On June 11, 2002, Justice Hood handed down Reasons for Judgment, subsequent to the trial reasons,  in the case of Bellinger v. Fayers, Nuytten. In this case I represented the plaintiff,… Read more

The Cy-Pres Doctrine

Those of us living in Vancouver know Children’s Hospital–surely that goes without saying. Check a little closer, however, and you may be surprised to learn that no such legal entity exists. In estate law it is relatively common to discover that a charitable institution, named… Read more

Common Law Marriage or Mere Housemates?

There is currently a good deal of litigation arising in estate disputes as to claims that lovers were spouses and not mere housemates. Historically the law did not recognize the claim of a common-law spouse against the estate of their deceased partner.  Indeed these relationships… Read more

How to Win an Undue Influence Case

How to Win an Undue Influence Case

In my experience in estate litigation, probably the most difficult issue to win at trial is that of undue influence. A review of case law makes clear the majority of such allegations are dismissed at trial due to insufficient proof. Frequently the court simply finds… Read more

Mr. Attorney – Shine The Light on Undue Influence

( This article was written in 2006 to the attorney general to encourage the introduction of a presumption of undue influence when large bequests are left to person  in a position of dominance or dependence. It was successful and resulted in Section 52 of WESA,… Read more

Revocation of Wills

Every will is revocable even a will, whose terms purport to make it irrevocable, is in fact revocable. Generally speaking a will may be either be revoked by the operation of law or may be deliberately revoked by the testator . Deliberate revocation requires a… Read more

Wills Variation Act Not Changed Under WESA

Wills Variation Act Not Changed Under WESA

  In the summer of 2006 the British Columbia Law Institute delivered to the Attorney General a sweeping report entitled Wills, Estates and Succession: A Modern Legal Framework. Many of that report’s recommendations involve well-considered and welcome changes. There are two recommendations in that report,… Read more

The BC Wills Variation Act

The BC Wills Variation Basics

Any discussion of the BC Wills Variation Act requires an understanding of the English common law which provides the background for this Act. English common law, developed by the English judges over the centuries, provided that when a person died, that person could leave his… Read more