The Real Estate Boom and a Rise in Estate Litigation – Is There a Correlation Between the Two?

June 23, 2021 Ian Hull Estate Planning Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

A recent Globe and Mail Article, published on June 4, 2021, suggests that the booming real estate market in Vancouver has come with a rise in family legal disputes.

A Vancouver estate dispute arose in November of 2020 when a testator (with modest assets at the time), who had bequeathed the remaining assets of her estate to the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, passed away. When the will was prepared in 2003, the testator never contemplated that the value of her estate would increase so dramatically as a result of a rise in the real estate market. The testator’s remaining assets, left to charity, amounted to more than $1.5 million on her death. It is safe to say that the testator’s heirs were not pleased with this outcome.

A poorly drafted will that fails to consider the volatile real estate market could result in unhappy heirs/beneficiaries and leave an estate vulnerable to litigation. It is also important for testators who reside in British Columbia in particular, to consider the Wills Variation section of their legislation when drafting a will. If a testator has multiple children and chooses to gift one child real property, and that real property increases in value, the remaining children could argue that they were treated unfairly and have a claim against the estate. As litigation lawyer, Josh Woods, states, “…  we are not talking about a $100,000.00 lake cabin … we are talking about properties … all of which are skyrocketing in value.”

In order to best protect against estate litigation, it would be prudent to retain an estates lawyer to prepare your will.

Thanks for reading and enjoy your day!

Ian Hull and Tori Joseph

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