Blog Posts

Below are our blog posts about recent developments in the areas of Estate, Family and Personal Injury law as well as comments on some recent important decisions from the BC Supreme Court, BC Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada.

Settlement Offers and Releases: Pitfalls and Problems
August 21, 2020

Settlement Offers and Releases: Pitfalls and Problems Most litigants are able to resolve their issues without trial by agreement. Releases are a standard part of the process and provide assurance to both sides of the transaction that the issue has been laid to rest and neither side can bring any future claims. Often the releases […]

Secret Trusts and Estates: What are they and how do they work?
June 25, 2020

Secret Trusts: What are they and how do they work? Secret Trusts are not solely the product of Hollywood murder mysteries. While they are rare, they still do make an appearance in Estate claims. Most recently, they came before our Court of Appeal in Bergler v. Odenthal, 2020 BCCA 175 What is a “Secret Trust”? […]

A Change of Mind: When a Testator Alters Their Will
October 25, 2019

In a case decided earlier this year, the British Columbia Supreme Court discussed the implications of a testator altering his or her will after the will has been made. In Levesque Estate (Re), 2019 BCSC 927, the testatrix made a will nine years before her passing. At some point during the time between the creation […]

Is a Draft Will Legal?
March 7, 2017

Common questions that people have in British Columbia estate law include: “Is a draft will legal” or “binding” or “valid”? This article attempts to give some guidance on how to answer those questions. In British Columbia, for a will to be valid, it must meet the requirements found in Section 37 of the Wills, Estates […]

What counts as separation in BC?
January 31, 2017

In BC, the Family Law Act and Wills, Estates and Succession Act define the term spouse by reference to the term “separation”. Under WESA, section 2 provides that spouses cease to be spouses as follows: If they are married, on separation as it is considered under the FLA; or If they are living in a common […]

Wills Variation of Teen Wills
April 9, 2014

Can my teenager make a will and can I wills variation it? Section 36 of the new Wills, Estates and Succession Act (WESA) says that a person who is 16 years old and mentally capable of doing so can make a will. A 16 year old making a valid will is new in British Columbia […]

Limiting Powers of Attorney
September 27, 2013

Recently in Easingwood v. CRockroft, 2013 BCCA 182, the honourable Madam Justice Saunders of the British Columbia Court of Appeal considered the legalities arising when an attorney under a power of attorney creates an alter ego trust on behalf of a principal. For a better understanding of alter ego trusts, please click here. The case […]

What is an Alter Ego Trust?
September 23, 2013

An alter ego trust may be used to avoid wills variation claims. When someone dies, everything that was in their legal name at the time of death is presumed to form part of the deceased’s estate. It is the deceased’s estate that then passes to beneficiaries. Who the beneficiaries are is usually determined by the […]

Moral versus Legal Claims
April 14, 2013

Beyond a consideration of the competing legal claims are the moral claims which the courts must consider in deciding a Wills Variation Act claim. These moral claims are usually more individual and specific than legal claims and can include the most varied considerations, some of which be assured/implied expectations, disability and financial circumstances. It will […]

Adequate Provision that is Just and Equitable
April 10, 2013

The most intriguing part of the Wills Variation Act (now the Wills, Estates and Succession Act) is that “adequate provision for the proper maintenance and support” and “adequate, just and equitable” is judged in light of contemporary community standards, legal and moral. These legal and moral standards are different in different parts of our country, different in […]

Understanding Wills Variation
April 6, 2013

It was the earlier lobbying of women’s groups in the early 20th century that was responsible for the enactment of the first Wills Variation Act (now the Wills Estates and Succession Act). The evolving rights and role of women in society has continued to stand behind the interpretation of the Wills Variation Act by the […]

Trusting the Trustee
April 2, 2013

Beneficiaries have to be able to trust their trustee. Period. Trusts occur in different ways: Automatically by operation of the law, by express written document, or by express unwritten agreement. Sometimes trustees don’t know they’re trustees because the trust has arisen automatically by operation of the law. That is no excuse. The relationship between a […]

What is a Beneficial Interest?
April 1, 2013

A beneficial interest is a term used to describe the situation that occurs when something is held in “trust”. You may have a beneficial interest in something if you are the “real” owner of it, but legally it is “held” by someone else. For example, Benny is 80 years old. Benny buys this house with […]

Estate Left to Stars Likely Challenged
March 18, 2013

A BC estate is subject to the Wills, Estates and Succession Act (WESA, formerly the Wills Variation Act). WESA allows spouses and children to vary wills of their parents and spouses. In such cases, the court struggles with balancing two principles: that a deceased has the right to choose what should happen with their assets […]

Varying Wills in British Columbia
December 12, 2012

Estate litigation lawyers use part of the Wills Estates and Succession Act (or WESA, formerly the Wills Variation Act) when varying wills. In British Columbia, wives, husbands and children are protected from their parents or spouses writing wills and leaving their assets in a way that offends contemporary community standards. Section 60 of WESA (formerly Section […]

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