Estate litigation

Challenging a will in court can be a costly, time-consuming and emotionally draining experience. Family members fight. Beneficiaries can end up waiting for years as cases wind through the system. That said, what are your chances of winning?

Origin Law Group is a British Columbia law firm specializing in Estate Litigation. We take a hands-on, effective, results-oriented approach to estate disputes.

We are dedicated to settling our clients’ problems in a professional manner based upon our years of expertise in the area of Estate Litigation. We have worked for estate trustees, beneficiaries and claimants in the broadest range of estate dispute areas, including:

  • Dependant Support Claims
  • Wills Challenges and Wills Defence
  • Contested Wills
  • Passings of Accounts
  • Trustee Conflicts
  • Practice Areas
  • Contested Wills
  • Will Interpretations
  • Claims for Services to an Estate
  • Family Law Act Claims
  • Power of Attorney Disputes
  • Mediation and Arbitration
  • Variations of Trust
  • Mental Incompetency Litigation
  • Applications under the Substitute Decisions Act
  • Estate Administration
  • Estate Planning
Parties with a financial interest in an estate can bring an application to court to contest or challenge a will. If a party thinks that they should have been included in the will of a friend or family member but have not been, or if you wish to otherwise contest the contents of a will, you should consult with one of our associates at Origin Law Group. Our associates can determine whether you are eligible to bring such a claim and can assist you in fully understanding your legal rights, assessing the options that you may have, as well as understanding the potential risks and costs of moving forward with a will challenge.
Contesting a Will 
There are generally three ways in which to challenge a will: 
Formal requirements not met 
Lack of testamentary or mental capacity 
Undue influence 
Less often, wills are also contested based upon accusations of forgery or fraud. The procedure followed when seeking to determine the validity or invalidity of a will is very different from the procedure involved in general litigation. There are also a number of specific rules of evidence having unique application to challenges of a will.   

A very common dispute in estate litigation occurs when beneficiaries or others with an interest in an estate believe that an Executor or Trustee is not completing his or her obligations or acting in violation of their fiduciary duty.
When an executor or trustee is appointed, in most of the cases, they find themselves in that role for the very first time. In some cases, the Executor or Trustee may not have the expertise or skill required to properly meet their obligations to act in the best interest of the estate. In other cases, they may intentionally abuse their authority and act in their own best interest. A removal application may be brought by a beneficiary who is displeased with the actions of a personal representative or by a trustee who is unable to work with a co-trustee or cannot resolve a fundamental disagreement respecting the administration of an estate.

Common trust disputes include:
●Executor’s compensation
●Executor’s performance and management of the estate
●Challenges to executor accounting
●Trustee/Executor Disputes
●Disputes between beneficiaries
●Will interpretation
●Valuation of items in the estate
●Allegations of undue influence
●Equitable Claims
●Trust Interpretation
●Removal and Replacement of Trustees/Executors

The passing of accounts is a formal and technical process governed by various pieces of legislation including the Trustee Act, the Substitute Decisions Act, as well as case law. Accounts are passed before the court by way of application. The accounts are presented in a manner prescribed by Rule 74 of the Rules of Procedure which rule also sets out those upon whom the application must be served; the time for delivery of a Notice of Objection to Accounts by any person who is unsatisfied with the accounts or the claim for compensation by the trustee; the manner in which the application proceeds if no objections to the estate accounts are made; and, requests for increased costs on the application.

Objections to accounts arise when accounts are not properly prepared in accordance with Rule 74 so that it is difficult to understand the various transactions. Objections can also occur where beneficiaries object to a particular disbursement made by the personal representative, trustee, guardian or attorney from the estate or the amount of the disbursement.

The application to pass accounts must be served on all individuals with an interest in the estate, and those individuals can then file any objections they may have with the way in which the estate is administered including:
●Disagreement with transactions and decisions made;
●Disagreement with the amount of compensation being claimed by a trustee, attorney, or guardian;
●Disagreement over whether all property has been accounted for.

The court then has the discretion to grant or refuse an order based on a number of factors including:
●The nature and size of the estate;
●How complex the administration of the estate is;
●Whether there has been any litigation surrounding the estate up to that point in time;
●The terms in the will, trust, or other estate document.
●If the court does decide to review the accounts


Not sure if you have a case? Just let us evaluate it for you!