An estate lawyer: your ally when in a complex estate battle

In some cases, dealing with an estate can be complex. The services of a lawyer specialized in estate settlement are therefore highly recommended if you sense that the agreement between the heirs is likely to become complicated.

What can complicate the settlement of an estate?

There are many reasons why it can be difficult to deal with an estate.

Here are some common examples:

  1. When the deceased has no will
    If a person dies without a will, his or her estate must comply with the provisions of the Civil Code of Québec. The assets are then distributed according to the legal rules of inheritance. Generally speaking, the surviving spouse has priority inheritance rights. Other family members may not agree with this decision. In such cases, it is important to seek the assistance and advice of a lawyer specializing in inheritance law.
  2. When the liquidator neglects or refuses to assume his duties and obligations
    In some cases, the liquidator may refuse to assume the responsibilities associated with his or her role. In this case, the heirs may decide to remove him from office and appoint another liquidator. As this is an exceptional measure – often going against the wishes of the testator – it is essential to consult an estate lawyer. He or she will be able to guide them through the process, or suggest other available options.
  3. When heirs are responsible for the deceased’s unpaid debts
    In such cases, consulting a lawyer specializing in inheritance law can be very useful in helping heirs manage the deceased’s unpaid debts. Generally, these debts are paid from available assets. If the amount of the claims exceeds the deceased’s assets, the lawyer consulted will be able to apply specific rules concerning equitable distribution between the various creditors. The advice of a lawyer in this situation will ensure that the heirs manage the deceased’s financial obligations fairly and legally.
  4. When heirs do not agree on division
    In the event of such a disagreement (which may also concern the valuation of assets, the sharing of expenses, joint ownership or dismemberment management decisions, the validity of the will or the existence of prior donations), the specialist lawyer consulted may have to apply to a judge to appoint an expert to value the assets in order to settle the estate.
  5. When a conflict arises between heirs
    A conflict or dispute between heirs can make estate settlement more difficult and time-consuming. An estate lawyer has the training and experience to help solve a variety of estate-related problems.

To sum up, calling in a lawyer in a difficult estate is the best way to deal with different situations. He or she can verify the contents of the will, enforce the deceased’s last wishes, defend a will if it is contested, help you resolve problems with a liquidator or a conflict with heirs, and settle other will-related situations.

NOTE: This article does not constitute legal advice. Its sole purpose is to inform the reader about certain aspects of the complications surrounding difficult inheritance cases.