Increase in estate litigation

Litigation surrounding wills and estates has increased in recent years, causing misery for already grieving relatives, and resulting in major costs consequences for the parties involved. The estate litigation team at Rogerson Law Group has years of experience advising and representing trustees and trust beneficiaries.

A bank study warned earlier this year of the biggest ‘inter-generational’ transfer of wealth in Canadian history. The BMO InvestorLine Study revealed that:

  • the average inheritance in Canada is approximately $100,000
  • more than half of Canadians have received an inheritance
  • two-thirds believe they will receive an inheritance in the future
  • 91% plan to invest at least a portion of their inheritance, and
  • seventy-five per cent think it is important to leave money to the next generation

The conclusions, which make for interesting reading, are indicative of the sums of money passing between generations in Canada.

Increase in estate litigation

However, this means more scope for arguments: when someone dies, and a family member isn’t provided for in the deceased’s will, for instance, a claim may follow. Or where a dependant of the deceased is insufficiently provided for in the will, a claim is likely to follow. To make a claim against someone’s will, you must have legal grounds for so doing. An individual who was a dependant of the deceased at the time of death may challenge a will if he or she has not been provided for in the will (or under the intestacy rule) or believe they have been insufficiently provided for.

The increase estate litigation also reflects the fact that people are living longer – what would be an individual’s inheritance is paying, instead, for elderly care costs in many instances. An ageing population also means an increase in dementia and other concerns about the mental capacity of the elderly.

Mental capacity

Claims against wills and estates are frequently based on lack of capacity to make a will, and sometimes duress. The law prescribes strict guidelines on testators’ capacity to make a will, and where there is doubt that the testator had sufficient capacity to make a will, the court may declare it invalid.

How can we help?

Gord Graves, Vice-President and Managing Director, BMO Harris Private Banking, has said: “Canadians who plan to leave an inheritance for their children need to ensure that they are taking the right steps to ensure a smooth transition of assets.” The probate solicitors at Rogerson Law have years of experience advising and representing clients considering making a will, or reviewing their existing wills. We can assist you to ensure your loved ones are provided for whilst protecting your assets.

Our estate litigation team can assist if you are a trustee or personal representative of a deceased estate facing a challenge from a beneficiary or other individual; or if you believe you have a valid claim against an estate. Contact the Toronto estate litigation lawyers team at Rogerson Law Group for urgent advice. The sooner you act the better.

Rogerson Law Group provides estate litigation services in the entire Greater Toronto Area including Toronto, Scarborough, Mississauga, Vaughan, Brampton, Richmond Hill, Etobicoke, and Barrie and surrounding areas with offices located in downtown Toronto, Barrie, and associated offices in Ottawa.

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