Estate litigation and hiring an estate lawyer
Charles Ticker is an estate lawyer with over 35 years of experience who has successfully appeared at all levels of Ontario trial Courts and the Court of Appeal. He has vast estate litigation experience and he is able to provide effective representation to his clients. Charles has been involved in many estate litigation disputes over the course of his career. He is able to use his experience to craft creative litigation strategies and to attain favorable results no matter how difficult a case may seem. In addition to being an estate lawyer and dedicating his career to estate law, Charles Ticker is an experienced and qualified mediator. He is intimately familiar with the estate mediation process both as a lawyer and as a mediator. His skills as a mediator put him in a rare position to have multiple perspectives on estate mediation, a process that is an integral part of estate litigation in Ontario. In fact, estate mediation is mandatory in many estate law disputes in several parts of Ontario. In Toronto, Rule 24.1 of the Rules of Civil Procedure states that all estate disputes must be mediated. Mediation allows the parties to keep costs low which is important in estate litigation where legal costs can be very high. Even if settlement of an estate dispute is not possible at mediation, it can be used to narrow down the issues in dispute and to resolve certain parts of the dispute. Although estate disputes seldom advance to trial, it is often necessary to initiate Court proceedings. Charles Ticker will explain the estate litigation process to you in detail in order to ensure you understand what you are getting into. He has the expertise and experience necessary to successfully guide you through the litigation process all the way up to and including trial.
Estate litigation practice areas
The following are some of the areas of estate litigation that Charles Ticker can assist you with as an estate lawyer. If you have any questions about any of these topics or other areas of estate law, contact Charles Ticker directly by telephone at 1-866-677-7746, email, or by submitting a request in the contact from on this website.
Claims for services provided
If a person takes care of and helps an elderly testator, the value of these services provided are recognized by the law. As people age, more of them require assistance from friends and family. There are many situations where family may not be able to assist an elderly individual in need. If relatives are not available or willing to help an elderly individual, he or she may enlist the help of a neighbor or friend to help with caregiver tasks. The de facto “caregiver” may be promised a fair reward in the will, only to find out later that the elderly testator failed to amend his or her will accordingly. If this happens, estate litigation may be available to the “caregiver” for services provided to the testator. Read more.
Contesting a will
A beneficiary may be interested in contesting a will under various circumstances. The process is also referred to as a will challenge. There are many reasons for a person to initiate a will challenge. For example, a beneficiary that has been left out of a will (disinherited) may attempt to challenge the validity of the will. A will may also be invalid if the testator (person making the will) lacked capacity at the time the will was executed, or if there was undue pressure from other family members (other siblings). Many estate litigation battles involve a dispute about the validity of a will. Read more.
Dependant support claims
A dependant support claim may be made by a person who was a dependant of a deceased individual at the time of death. It is important to retain an estate lawyer in order to determine if you qualify as a dependant person. Children, grandchildren, spouses, parents and siblings may be bale to make a claim against the estate of the deceased. A dependant person does not have to be directly related to the deceased. Adult children may also be able to make a dependant support claim under certain circumstances. The same applies to the surviving spouse of the deceased. He or she may have to elect between taking under a will, or asserting an equalization payment. There are important limitations that must be followed to ensure your rights as a dependant are protected. Read more.
Estate administration disputes are common in estate litigation. The person appointed as the administrator of the estate (also referred to as the executor), must ensure that he or she understand his or her legal rights and obligations. If the executor makes mistakes administering the estate, or fails to keep proper records and accounting of various transactions, these errors and omissions may give rise to estate litigation at a later date. Furthermore, beneficiaries may move to have the executor removed, and he or she may be found to be personally liable to the estate. Estate administration and estate planning require prudent legal advice from an estate lawyer. Read more.
If there are no powers of attorney in place and a person stats to lack capacity to manage his or her affairs, a guardianship dispute may ensue. Guardianship disputes are among the most emotionally challenging kinds of disputes in estate litigation. If it is determined that a person does indeed lack capacity then the person will require the appointment of a guardian. A guardian is a person appointed by the Court to make financial and personal care decisions for the incapable person. An estate lawyer can be of assistance to the person for whom guardianship is sought, the proposed guardian, or another family member. Representation by an estate lawyer may be required even if the matter does not progress to Court. A guardianship dispute requires specialized knowledge of estate law, and an estate lawyer should be consulted under most circumstances. Read more.
Estate litigation is a costly and complex process. There are many instances when siblings and relatives engage in protracted estate litigation as a result of bitter rivalries that may stem all the way back to childhood. The parties involved may make unreasonable claims based on feelings of anger or betrayal. Even if the parties wish to take the matter all the way to Court or trial, estate lawyers must ensure that their clients are aware of the possible cost consequences in estate litigation lawsuits. There have been many cases where parties have failed to listen to their lawyers about the likelihood of success, only to be found responsible for the legal costs of the other side. Many Judges act strongly in awarding costs in order to discourage the wasting of the Court’s resources and time on frivolous and vexations litigation. Read more.
Losses caused to the estate
There are many situations when third parties unrelated to the estate may cause significant losses to the estate. As an example, the executor of an estate may be removed if his actions have endangered the estate, if he has acted dishonestly, if he has acted without proper care, or if he has acted without reasonable fidelity as outlined in the criteria for removing an executor. There may also be situations where an attorney entrusted by the the testator with the management of his or her property through a power of attorney for property is found to have abused the testator financially or to have misappropriated funds belonging to the testator. Abuse of power of attorney documentation is a serious matter. Many estate litigation cases involve the depletion of assets by a person in a position of trust to a testator. You should consult and hire an estate lawyer. Read more.
Outdated estate plans
Estate plans must be updated regularly. Some people even do not have estate plans as they delay making their estate plans due to the unpleasantness of thinking of their eventual demise. It is important to note that times of joy such as weddings, childbirths, or marriages should also trigger the updating and or creation of estate plans. Estate management and estate administration require properly prepared and updated estate plans. For example, if you fail to to change the beneficiary of a registered savings plan, insurance policy, or retirement plan after you have divorced, it is likely that estate litigation will ensue between your former and surviving spouses or children. Read more.
Power of attorney litigation
As people age, they lose their ability to handle their affairs. It is important to have proper power of attorney documentation drafted and prepared while the person still has the capacity to manage his affairs. There are two types of powers of attorney in Ontario: a power of attorney for property, and a power of attorney for personal care. Pursuant to the Substitute Decisions Act, a power of attorney for property refers to the power to make financial decisions in the best interests of the grantor. A power of attorney for personal care refers to decisions governing among other things, personal hygiene, food, shelter, clothing, and medical care for the grantor. A power of attorney may become effective at the time it is signed by the grantor, or at a later time when the grantor is deemed to have lost capacity to manage his or her affairs. It is important to note that power attorney disputes often give rise to estate litigation due to abuse of the power of attorney by the attorney. It is important to seek legal advice from an estate lawyer in any dispute involving alleged abuse of a power of attorney. Read more.
Passing of accounts
The passing of accounts by an estate trustee is process that requires specialized knowledge of estate law. The Substitute Decisions Act and the Rules of Civil Procedure govern the procedure by which trustees and fiduciaries are required to pass accounts in Ontario. The trustee may be required to pass accounts or the trustee can do so voluntarily under section 48 of the Estates Act. A beneficiary may be able to challenge the actions of the estate trustee in handling the accounts of the estate by obtaining a Court order. If there are no appropriate individuals to act, the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee may be appointed to review the accounts. The passing of accounts can give rise to estate litigation and should be done with the assistance of an experienced estate lawyer. Read more.
Removing an executor
An executor of an estate may be removed for various reasons. If the executor misappropriates funds, or fails to meet record-keeping requirements, beneficiaries of the estate may move to have the executor removed. Gross misconduct by the executor is another reason he or she may be removed. The decision to seek the removal of an executor should never be taken lightly and should always be done after seeking advice from an estate lawyer. Courts have jurisdiction to remove an executor on many grounds, even in situations where a will has not been probated. There are also situations (for example, conflict of interest), where the Court may decide to suspend an executor’s right to administer the estate. The analysis is always based on the specific facts of your case and requires knowledge of estate law. Read more.
Substitute decision maker disputes
A substitute decision maker is usually a person who is elected to make decisions for the person who no longer has the capacity required to make decisions on his or her own. A substitute decision maker can be granted these powers in relation to the property of the grantor through a power of attorney for property. The substitute decision maker should be able to carry out the duties associated with being an attorney under a power of attorney. One of the common mistakes is for a person to appoint all of his or her children as substitute decision makers. This can result in stalemates and delay when it comes to important decisions if there are no “majority rules” clauses in the power of attorney documents. If the appropriate clauses are missing any decisions made would have to be unanimous for all decision makers. It is easy to see how this can result in protracted and bitter estate litigation proceedings. Read more.
The executor of a will must be careful when it comes to will interpretation. If a will contains ambiguous provisions, the executor must take the necessary steps to ensure he or she is protected from personal liability while administering the estate. If the executor distributes the estate while there are will interpretation issues, he or she may be sued by disgruntled beneficiaries. An estate lawyer can assist with will interpretation. If an opinion is required from the Court, an estate lawyer can assist you with preparing the required application materials for the Court. Additionally, an experienced estate litigation lawyer can assist you with providing the Court favorable interpretations of any of ambiguous sections in the will. Read more.
In many parts of Ontario such as Toronto, Ottawa, Windsor, and the County of Essex estate mediation is a mandatory part of the estate litigation process for many types of disputes. Mediation allows the parties to attempt to resolve the matter at an early stage thereby saving time and legal costs. The vast majority of estate litigation cases settle well in advance of trial. In fact, settlement should be encouraged well in advance of mediation, and if mediation fails, well in advance of trial. Even if your matter does not settle at mediation, the mediation process allows parties to openly discuss the issues of the case and to attempt to reach common ground and settle some of the outstanding issues. Read more.
It is important to ensure the parties taking place in mediation are familiar with the mediation process in Ontario. Mediation is not a forum for the parties to argue their case or to attempt to get a legal opinion from the mediator present. In fact, the mediator is a neutral third party whose goal at the mediation is to encourage dialogue and a possible solution to the dispute. The mediator cannot force the parties to settle the matter if they are not ready. The mediation process is confidential and any settlement discussions at a mediation cannot be used at a later date in a later court appearance (such as a trial). Furthermore, the confidential nature of the mediation process may be conducive to settlement, since the terms of settlement reached during mediation can remain confidential. A trial decision is public and may expose various facts about the estate dispute which may be embarrassing to the parties involved. Read more.
A family conference allows members of a family to resolve potential estate disputes in advance. The elder family members (testators) may convene a family conference with their children (potential or actual beneficiaries) in order to address any potentially contentious issues. The parties may bring their lawyers and a mediator is present to guide the process. The purposes of a family conference is to come up with a resolution to future problems and to ensure the parties involved are on the same page. It is an excellent tool to reduce future legal costs and to decrease likelihood of estate litigation at a later time. Read more.
Charles Ticker has over 35 years of experience in estate litigation and estate law disputes. He is an experienced estate lawyer and mediator. He will work closely with you and guide you through the estate litigation process.
The information on this website is not legal advice. It is for informative purposes only. Contacting us through the website, email, or telephone does not mean you have retained a lawyer. To book a consultation, call Charles at: 1-866-677-7746.