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Carrying Out Final Wishes

Contested will leads to probate dispute

In most situations, when a will goes through probate in British Columbia, it's a simple process. If the will is found to be valid, the executor or administrator sets about fulfilling the contents of the document. There are occasions, however, when the will is challenged for some reason, and probate may become more complicated. An extreme example of this is transpiring right now in another jurisdiction. 

An 84-year-old man passed away in Dec. 2015, naming a long time friend beneficiary of the bulk of his estate. The friend, a woman who lived nearby, was also made executor of the estate. In total, her portion of the estate has a value of approximately $1.2 million. Sums of $10,000 each were left to his two children, a son and a daughter, provided they did not contest the will.

Despite the clause, the daughter of the deceased is contesting the will in court, citing many alleged irregularities. The will named the deceased's ex-wife and his brother as co-executors, but both declined the responsibility. Further stipulated in the will was the naming of his friend as executor should the other two back out. His daughter alleges the friend wrote the will for her father, and convinced him to name people who she knew would reject the duty of executor in order to gain control herself.

She further contends that the woman passed herself off as an attorney, though she was not allowed to practice law in that jurisdiction. In April 2016, an appeals court named an outside party, a local attorney, as temporary executor while the case proceeded. Mediation over the dispute is expected to take place in late Nov. 2016.

It is unfortunate that during a time of grieving, it becomes necessary to deal with the final legal arrangements of a loved one. Probate can be a difficult time for any British Columbia man or woman, but it is an important part of the process that follows a loss. This is a time when it would be of great benefit to look to a skilled attorney for assistance and guidance. 

Source: The Vineyard Gazette, "Tangled Probate Dispute Involves Dukes County Manager", Steve Myrick and Julia Wells, Nov. 17, 2016

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