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

Disinheriting Adult Independent Children

Disinheriting Adult Independent Children As long as testamentary freedom exists, some parents will try to disinherit their children. In British Columbia a determined parent can do so with expert estate planning. If a parent simply uses their will to disinherit a child, however, that parent… Read more

BC WILLS VARIATION ACT: Consideration of Benefits Passing Outside Estate

The British Columbia Wills Variation Act is the statute which permits an eligible claimant to contest a will. The class of claimants eligible to bring a wills variance claim includes any spouse, common-law spouse (f they cohabited for 2+ years) and any child of the… Read more

The Use of DNA in Estate Litigation

DNA in Estate Litigation The Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA for short) is the genetic code found in the nucleus of each of our body cells and is increasingly used in estate litigation. Because each person’s genetic code is unique, it is like a genetic “fingerprint”. Initially… Read more

Limitations for Wills Variation Claims

There is a relatively short limitation period for wills variation claims brought under British Columbia`s Wills Variation Act. Under WESA, a claimant must start any court action within 180 days  of the grant of probate to the executor of the impugned will. This allows for… Read more

A Tribute to The BC Wills Variation Act

The question of a child’s ‘entitlement’ to share in a parent’s estate often provokes a very lively discussion. Many believe that a parent`s obligation ends once they have “fed, clothed, educated and sent the child on his or her way”. They argue that testators should… Read more

Proving Undue Influence In Wills

Proving Undue Influence In Wills Has Improved Under WESA Under s. 52 of the new WESA Legislation which came  in effect on April 1, 2014)), the onus of disproving undue influence has shifted to the person who has received the gift under the will where they… Read more

Beware Badly Drafted Separation Agreements re Future Estate Claims

In my experience many matrimonial practitioners may well do a very good job in their respective field, but upon drafting separation agreements to finalize the marriage, many of the agreements are very poorly drafted with respect to inheritance issues between the spouses that may arise… Read more

The Doctrine of Suspicious Circumstances

The Doctrine of Suspicious Circumstances- From Laszlo v Lawton 2013 SCBC 305 [200] In Vout v. Hay, [1995] 2 S.C.R. 876 [Vouf\, the Supreme Court of Canada laid to rest the thread of confusion that had emerged in earlier decisions concerning the burden of proof… Read more

Reasons For Disinheritance In a Will Must Be “Valid and Rational”

A will makers reasons for disinheriting a child in his or her will must be valid and rationale Fuller v Fuller 2008 BCSC 702 is a familiar scenario in estate litigation. The will that states that no provision is being made for a child due… Read more