Do You Live in a Common Law Marriage or Not?

This video is about whether or not you live in a common law relationship. As you know, many couples have for some time now lived in common law relationships without the sanctity of a marriage certificate. For many of those years, they were legally unprotected but in recent years, that has changed. Now, generally speaking, if a party—if parties, I should say, lived together for two years, they’re generally considered in British Columbia for most of our statutes to be a common law couple. Thus, they have claims under the Wills Variation Act. They can inherit on an intestacy and they have claims under statutes such as the Family Compensation Act with respect to wrongful deaths.

There are many criteria as to whether a couple lives in a common law relationship because just as many possibilities of various relationships exist today as one could possibly imagine. So the courts will look at such things as whether you in fact even live under the same roof or do you hold yourself up to the community at large as a married couple, whether you share expenses, whether you share assets and just what type of lifestyle you have. But none of them themselves are necessarily conclusive. This is an evolving area of law. Many people have come out of the closet in recent years and have talked about long time relationships which no one knew about. This area will continue to grow and typically the rights of common law spouses will be increasingly protected.

How the Award of Court Costs are Made in British Columbia

This video is about court costs. Typically and historically, court costs often came out of the estate. The unsuccessful party did not have to pay the winning party and that was the way it was for many, many years. Approximately 20 years ago in British Columbia, the courts began to be more discriminated on how the award of court costs was made.

There are typically a few different scenarios that can have different implication for costs. If for example, the reason of the court application is the testator’s own fault, for example, the will is ambiguous, then the court will typically award court costs out of the estate. If on the other hand, the parties are having a legal dispute over the validity of a will or such things, the court has a discretion to award cost and might very well award court costs to the winning party against the losing party, that is, the losing party would have to pay a contribution towards the legal fees of the winning party.

Typically an executor is entitled to be reimbursed for his or her legal fees if incurred properly. There’s a great number of different scenarios of cost in this video. The one I caution litigants about is the award of special costs. If for example a litigant claims undue influence against another party and fails to prove it at court, the trial judge may very well award special costs against the losing party which means that the losing party has to pay 100 percent of the winning party’s legal fees. That can be a very significant sum of money.

Understanding the Wills Variation Act in British Columbia

A tribute to Wills Variation Act that we have here in British Columbia, Canada. We’ve had this act for approximately 90 years and we obtained it from New Zealand. It allows certain types of classes of people to contest a will if they have been inadequately provided for. It allows spouses, either legal spouses or common law spouses or same sex couples who have either legally married or lived in a marriage-like relationship for two years to contest a will and it also allows children, whether they be adopted children or natural children or illegitimate children but not stepchildren to also contest a will if they also have been inadequately provided for. The article basically gives several examples of extreme cases where a great injustice would have occurred but not for the Wills Variation Act.

The Basics of the Wills Variation Act

This video is about the basics of the Wills Variation Act in British Columbia, Canada. The Wills Variation Act only applies to this province so people from elsewhere must realize that we can only contest wills in this province where the assets are in this province. In any event, this is a detailed look at the statute and some of the requirements to comply with it and some of the problems that we run into in pursuing the many, many claims of disinherited.com that we have pertaining to this statute.

The Wills Variation Act allows children of the deceased and spouses of the deceased to contest a will if they have been inadequately provided for. The action must be commenced within six months of the grant of probate or the person would be out of time to do so. So people should consult disinherited.com for legal advice as soon as possible either before a death or immediately after death to get legal advice as to what claims, if any, they may have if they feel they have been inadequately provided for. The article and video also deal with various ways that can be used to circumvent the Wills Variation Act, and those are some of the problems that we have in trying to recoup inheritances for people who have been disinherited. Thank you very much for watching.

Mr. Attorney – Don’t Change the Wills Variation Act

The Wills Variation Act was written in approximately 2007 after the government of British Columbia the year prior announced that they intended to make slipping changes to wills and succession legislation in British Columbia. The overriding change was to change the Wills Variation Act provision so that adult independent children could no longer contest the will in British Columbia if they were inadequately provided for. The overriding reasoning for this change was that it would now bring British Columbia into more accord with the law of the rest of Canada.

My wife Judith Milliken and I led the fight against these proposed changes. I travel to various bar meetings. We wrote letters, and Judith in particular wrote this article and mailed it to the attorney general and republished it. It is a compelling story as to why the Wills Variation Act should not have been changed and I’m pleased to say that at the end of the day, we won. The government of British Columbia backed down and are not changing that provision of the Wills Variation Act.

Why You Shouldn’t Enter into Senior For Life Care Agreements

Senior for life care agreements typically offer to put up a substantial sum of money in return for which one child or more will take care of the parent for the rest of his or her life. It is a very well-intentioned concept particularly in times of these escalating real estate prices but I have seen far too many of these senior for life care agreements explode in everyone’s face basically.

Let me give you an example. Some years ago a client put his entire life savings into a house that was registered in the names of his son and his wife. The father was to live in the basement suite which he did for four years until his son died. His son’s untimely death and because the property was registered in joint tenancy meant that the surviving widow became the sole registered owner of the property. She promptly evicted the father and he ultimately lost most of his money. He wasn’t protected. He did not have a life estate registered against the property. No one sought legal advice and this is the type of hardship that can endure. So please be careful and don’t enter into these Seniors for Life Care agreements.

Secret Trusts: Is It An Overlooked Plaintiff’s Remedy?

This video is about secret trust. It firstly explains what a trust is and talks about the three necessities that are required to have valid trust. But it deals with what is called secret trust.

I was counsel on the appeal of a decision called glass pool a few years ago. And what had happened and the facts of that matter was that granny called her son into the kitchen and said, “Son, I’m going to give you my oil rights to mineral rights and that upon your death, you’re going to give them to your son.” This was said in the presence of a witness.

25 years passed and the son was dying and he drew up a will leaving all of his assets to his common law wife of eight years. The only asset he owned were these mineral rights. His son that he hadn’t seen in 25 years came along and challenged that and won at trial and it was upheld by the Court of Appeal.

So even though there was nothing in writing and even though it went outside of the will, the court simply said, she wanted the oil rights to go his son. What could be more clearer than that? And that is a very good example of what a secret trust is. I’ve entitled this video “Is It An Overlooked Plaintiff’s Remedy?” because many people have similar types of stories that they really should discuss with their lawyer.

Wealth Preservation

The concept of wealth preservation basically means that one heir is trying to pass his or her assets on to their heirs successfully without a challenge. The video is detailed. The article is detailed in the sense that five exhaustive areas of law are looked at. There’s various wills issues, various intestacy issues—that’s where there isn’t a will, various issues with respect to trust and under several pros and cons and dealings with respect to how to achieve wealth preservation and how to attack it.

Disappointed Beneficiaries? Sue the Lawyer

This video is about suing a lawyer for not properly preparing a will in a timely manner or in a proper manner so that there is, at the end of the day, what are known as a disappointed beneficiaries. This is someone who expected to inherit but because of the delay or negligence on the part of the solicitor who is instructed to prepare the will, the will was never properly executed and thus the intended beneficiary did not inherit.

These people are very disappointed and when they seek legal advice, a lawyer such as myself will advise them that the courts have held for approximately 30 years now, that the sole reason that a lawyer is hired to retain to prepare a will is so that the deceased testator has provided for his intended beneficiaries. If the lawyer perhaps goes on holidays or takes an untimely delay in preparing the will, and the deceased were to die before the will was signed, then the lawyer might very well be negligent and liable to the disappointed beneficiaries.

Dysfunctional Families and Becoming Disinherited

This video is about dysfunctional families. Chances are, if you’re watching this video or you have read the article called Dysfunctional Families on our website, then you’ll know a lot about this topic. However, many people that come in our office actually are absolutely amazed how accurate this article is. They ask me, “How did you know my family so well?” Well, we don’t. But we do have a lot of clients who have been from dysfunctional families and they end up in our office as a result of it. Often, they’re victims.

There’s any number of reasons for dysfunctional families and it can be as varied as alcohol and drug abuse to physical violence to sometimes sexual assault to absentee parents to any number of reasons, strict family upbringings like religious fundamentalism. There’s another one. Any number of reasons can find yourself disinherited and in our office. I’m sure that we understand where you’re coming from and that we understand that often you are victims of such abuse. In fact, I’ve read that over one out of three people expect to be disinherited by their parents. I think that’s actually on the low side.