We litigate over wills, estates, trusts and gifts. Wealth transfer involves a shift of ownership, and the transactions that implement that transfer are among the most important transactions a person ever engages in. If done poorly, wealth transfers can be attacked and set aside as invalid. The legal rules are complex in this area. Some wealth transfers can be defended.
Wills and other wealth transfers can be attacked and set aside on the grounds that the person giving up the wealth did not have the necessary mental capacity to validly do so. If a person has capacity, the wealth transfer can also be attacked if they did not properly understand what they were doing, or were pressured or fooled into giving their wealth to someone trying to take advantage. The paperwork has to be duly executed and flaws in the paperwork can invalidate a wealth transfer. There are also a myriad of special rules applying to particular transactions. A will, gift, or settlement of a trust can be attacked on one ground can often be attacked on many.
We also help people defend wills, gifts and other wealth transfers. A person can be of diminishing capacity and still be able to validly make a gift or do a will. Capacity is a sliding scale, and less significant transactions take lesser capacity to be successful. Delay in bringing attacks can eliminate them under limitations legislation or other legal principles such as “laches” and “acquiescence.” Independent legal advice, or other measures can sometimes save a wealth transfer in danger of going wrong.
Clients who are contemplating making wealth transfers often contact us in advance for help in doing so. We support clients wishing to make wills late in life, on their death bed, or in circustances where they want to disinherit heirs and anticipate legal challenges later. We support clients who wish to establish trusts, or make large gifts, and are doing so in the context of anticipated family litigation. We also help clients to avoid conflict, by holding family conferences among potential combatants in a bid to broker consensus before the fight has a chance to become a fight.
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