When any family member applies to the court to decide for the enforcement of their claim or right, it is a part of Estate Litigation. It involves dealing with deceased estates.
Typically, in Estate Litigation, family provision claims, will challenge and superannuation disputes are also included. Compensation applications for any actions which have adversely affected estate value are also included under Estate Litigation. Superannuation disputes are also increasingly frequent in Ontario with their rising fund investments.
What Are the Reasons for Litigation of Wills and Estates?
Litigation over wills and estates happens due to many reasons.
There are very specific criteria and laid down practices which need to be followed for a will to be valid. When any of these laid down standards are not present, the estate can be litigated upon by any person.
Some of the legal standards applicable for a valid will include:
- A person’s capacity to draft a will;
- A person’s intention to create a will;
- A person’s approval and complete Familiarity with will contents;
- Full compliance with signing and witnessing a will as per laid down standards;
- The non-existence of any undue influence or fraud
Litigation over estates can also be challenging for family members apart from being an expensive process. Once estate litigation starts, the estate beneficiaries have to wait for receiving their entitlement of inherited assets till the dispute gets resolved.
Family Provision Cases
In family provision applications, a family member of the deceased person asks for a provision in their estate. The child, spouse or dependent of the deceased person can make a family provision application if they feel they have been inadequately excluded from the will or intestate estate.
The duty of a deceased person to provide for their family is vital even though they can leave their property to anyone or any company they wish.
If you feel that any unhappy family member may hold up your estate, you should consider getting legal advice on how to manage that risk before any such event occurs.
Other Kinds of Estate Litigation
Types of deceased estate litigation which are not frequently seen such as:
- Rectification application are raised to resolve any secretarial error in a will;
- Will applications which are authorised by Court for people who do not possess the capacity to make a will;
- Construction Applications which are made for deciphering the meaning of the will and its possible interpretations;
- Informal will applications which signify improperly signed or witnessed wills;
- Equitable actions where the deceased failed to keep their part of any promise to leave a gift for the beneficiary which led to obligations favoring beneficiaries;
- Any action alleging unacceptable transactions, where the beneficiary took undue advantage of their relationship with the deceased person;
- Compensation Applications in cases where attorneys misused their rights awarded to them under the power of attorney;
- Applications requesting executor replacements if estate administration is experiencing undue delays or any other obstructions
In many circumstances, making court applications are the only way out to get estate issues resolved. It is clear that estate planning should be done in a comprehensive manner where the will and a host of related factors should be properly laid out in an organized way to avoid future disputes. Though deceased estate litigation cannot be avoided entirely, it can be minimized to a large extent if careful planning and organization are done in advance.
What is the Executor’s Role in the Estate Administration?
Executors of an estate need to act in the best interest of the estate and its beneficiaries. They have a fiduciary duty to administer the estate as per the testator’s wishes. Their responsibilities include collating all the testator’s assets, repaying all the debtors and distributing the balance estate as per the testator’s wishes. A record is also maintained for all their activities and shared with the beneficiaries.
How We Can Help
At Nanda & Associate Lawyers, our experienced Wills and Estate Lawyers understand your specific circumstances and provide tailored and customized solutions for each of them.
Our Mississauga Wills and Estate Lawyers are available for a consultation. Come and experience our quality legal counsel and personalized care we give to each client. We ensure prompt communication and a professional approach to achieve successful outcomes for you.
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