Wills, Estates & Trusts

The Davis LLP Wills, Estates & Trusts Practice Group has a wide range of experience in all aspects of wills, trusts and estates and related litigation.

Planning

We work closely with the firm’s Taxation Group to provide individuals, families and business clients with comprehensive advice tailored to their specific needs to ensure the orderly succession of assets to the next generation including reducing or eliminating probate fees and minimizing or deferring tax on capital gains, to meet any philanthropic desires and to prepare for the possibility that those individuals may become unable to take care of themselves or manage their assets.

Areas of expertise include the following:

  • Complex estate planning, including wills, alter ego, joint partner or other trusts
  • Planning for potential incapacity including powers of attorney tailored to specific individual and corporate needs, nominations of committee, and representation agreements
  • Post-mortem tax planning
  • Corporate and share structures, shareholder arrangements, and trusts for shares
  • Estate planning for families of persons with disabilities and special needs and advising organizations which assist the disabled community
  • Estate planning for disabled individuals
  • Adult guardianship, including the appointment of a committee (personal or property guardian)
  • End of life decision making
  • Representing and advising charities as beneficiaries of an estate or trust
  • Passing of executor, trustee or committee accounts
  • All aspects of trust and estate administration.

If you are located in British Columbia and are contemplating making a will, completing our Will Instruction Questionnaire will help us to better advise you and you may wish to review our Will Planning and Related Legal Issues Booklet.

If you wish our help probating a will or administering an estate in B.C., please contact a member of our group (found under the Lawyers tab) for our comprehensive estate questionnaire.

Litigation

We represent beneficiaries, trustees, executors and other personal representatives in disputes relating to wills and estates, including:

  • Wills Variation Act actions
  • The validity of a will, including allegations of undue influence or incapacity of the deceased
  • Court applications to interpret the provisions of a will
  • Contested passing of executor, trustee or committee accounts
  • Breach of trust actions

Emerging Issues

  • Family-run businesses seeking orderly succession planning to smoothly transition their businesses to the next generation
  • Newly created opportunities to defer income tax and avoid probate fees through joint partner, alter ego, and other trusts
  • Longer life spans increase the risk of a loss individuals’ cognitive faculties, increasing the need for living wills, powers of attorney, nominations of committee and representation agreements
  • Second marriages and common-law relationships lead to sometimes-forgotten yet critical changes in wills, trusts and other estate or personal planning documents
  • Mentally or physically challenged adults require plans for ongoing care when their primary caregivers can no longer care for them.

Our Clients

  • High net worth families and individuals
  • Owners of family-run businesses
  • Individuals as executors and trustees, and trust companies in that capacity
  • Charities and not-for-profit organizations
  • Parents of disabled children
  • Disabled individuals as beneficiaries

Expertise

We have authored many of British Columbia’s texts on trusts, wills and estates, such as Will Precedents: An Annotated Guide for the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia (CLE), In Trust for the Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network, the “Planned Charitable Giving” chapter for the CLE publication British Columbia Estate Planning & Wealth Preservation, the annotations for the “Estate Administration Act” in the recent CLE publication Annotated Estates Practice 2005, and the British Columbia Probate Manual, forerunner of the British Columbia Probate & Estate Administration Practice Manual (chapters of which members of our group regularly update and edit for publication).

Several group members have received recognition as leaders in their field from Martindale-Hubbell and Lexpert, and are senior members of estate-planning associations and councils.