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Estate Litigation Archives

Key business planning decisions to prevent estate litigation

When someone dies, particularly without a binding and well-communicated plan in place, it is not uncommon for disputes to arise regarding assets and succession. This is particularly true for business owners, who often own one more more complex nonliquid assets in their businesses. There are a few key decisions Ontario business owners can make in advance to ease this transition and avoid estate litigation.

Considering estate plans before birthing can be wise

For many parents, the most important part of their estate plan is who will have guardianship of children if they should pass away. However, there are other parts of estate planning that need to be considered by women and families entering childbirth. Who can make decisions on the mother's behalf if she is incapacitated during childbirth? What happens if complications occur during or after childbirth? These situations can be devastating to Ontario families, but advance planning can at the very least keep the matter out of the courtroom.

Managing estate litigation risks with unequal asset distribution

While it is common to leave an equal amount of assets to all children, many have very legitimate reason for favouring some children over others in a will. For example, one might have been a caretaker or have taken less from parents in their lifetime, or perhaps financial need is different. There is legal precedent for such wishes to be fulfilled under Ontario estate law. However, wills with unequal division of assets between children can also become fodder for estate litigation should one of the children call the will into question.

Estate litigation risks in blended or non-traditional families

Deciding the fate of assets can be fairly straight-forward in some families. In others, especially blended families, deciding who gets what can be dicey business. An non-traditional or "modern" family structure does not have to be a recipe for estate litigation, but it can certainly raise questions and, in some cases, conflict. Here are some things for Ontario estate planners and executors to consider when distribution of assets is less clear-cut.

Regular updates to a will can prevent estate litigation

When people consider financial advice, their minds often go immediately to mortgages, investments and lines of credit. But what happens to all those assets and liabilities when an Ontario individual passes away? Keeping an updated will is one of the most often forgotten pieces of financial advice, yet doing so can prevent serious turmoil and even estate litigation within a family.

Understanding estate litigation related to undue influence

When an individual plans for the future of his or her estate, the intention is for the person to be able to make independent and well-informed decisions. Unfortunately, it is possible for people to be conned or manipulated into changing their will to the benefit of someone with ill intentions. In fact, undue influence is at the heart of many estate litigation cases in Ontario.

Estate planning tips for business owners

Planning for the future can be challenging for anyone, but business owners have particular considerations when preparing wills. Ontario business owners should be careful to include detailed information about the future of their business in estate plans if they hope for their business to survive the owner or owners. Plans should not only designate future management and ownership of the business, but also answer any questions that may arise about the transition and assets within the business. Here are some considerations for business owners looking to plan for their futures.

Prioritize the process, not the will itself, with estate planning

For most Canadians, financial planning is far from a well-defined process. While many have an idea of what they have and where they may want it to go after they pass away, these plans are often not articulated to those who need to be aware. Ontario families may find that the best way to avoid financial challenges, up to and including estate litigation, is to consider an estate as part of a longer-term process of financial planning overall.

What defines a "fair" estate plan?

When planning for the distribution of assets in the future, it is common for individuals to aim for a "fair" and equitable arrangement. For some Ontario families, this simply means liquidating assets and splitting the proceeds among surviving children. For others, the choice is not so simple. Grandchildren, dependency, relationships and difficult assets like real estate and businesses can make it difficult to create an estate plan that is considered "fair" and reasonable to all in the family. Here are a few of the most important considerations.