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  • Writer's pictureelliotmelamed

Clarify and Simplify

We are seeing a growing trend of clients who are asking us to appraise their collections and contents before such time arrives that they are no longer with us and have left their families with undefined and unlisted assets. With a proper inventory and certified researched appraisals for artwork, collections and other assets, family members are spared the "quagmire down the road" of sorting through everything and arguing over who gets what and how much value each is receiving.

In Canada, inheritance disputes can arise when family members disagree on the distribution of assets left by a deceased person. These conflicts can cause significant emotional and financial strain on families, and it is important to have effective conflict resolution measures in place to help resolve these disputes. In this article, we will discuss the various conflict resolution measures available in Canada regarding inheritances.

  1. Wills and Estate Planning The first and most effective way to prevent inheritance disputes is through proper estate planning. A will is a legal document that outlines how a person’s assets will be distributed after their death. By creating a clear and comprehensive will, a person can ensure that their wishes are followed and reduce the likelihood of disputes arising. In addition, consulting with a lawyer or financial planner can help ensure that the will is legally binding and in accordance with Canadian law.

  2. Mediation Mediation is a voluntary process that involves a neutral third-party mediator who helps family members work through their differences and come to an agreement. Mediation can be used at any stage of an inheritance dispute, from before the dispute arises to after legal proceedings have started. Mediation is often less expensive and less stressful than going to court, and can help preserve relationships within the family.

  3. Arbitration Arbitration is another alternative to going to court, where a neutral third-party arbitrator makes a binding decision on the dispute. Arbitration can be used when family members agree to have a third-party make a decision on their behalf, and the decision is legally binding. Arbitration can be more formal than mediation and can involve a hearing similar to a court proceeding.

  4. Litigation Litigation is the process of resolving disputes through the court system. In Canada, inheritance disputes are typically resolved through the probate court, which is responsible for overseeing the distribution of assets after a person’s death. Litigation can be costly and time-consuming, and can cause significant strain on family relationships.

  5. Family Law Act In Canada, some provinces have Family Law Acts that govern inheritance disputes. These acts provide guidelines for the distribution of assets in cases where a person dies without a will or if the will is deemed invalid. The act may also provide guidelines for how family members can challenge a will if they believe it is unfair or does not accurately reflect the deceased person’s wishes.

  6. Trusts A trust is a legal arrangement where a person (the trustee) manages assets on behalf of another person (the beneficiary). Trusts can be established during a person’s lifetime or as part of their will. Trusts can be useful in inheritance disputes because they allow for more control over how assets are distributed and can help prevent disputes from arising.

  7. Independent Legal Advice Inheritance disputes can be emotionally charged, and family members may not always have the best interests of everyone involved in mind. Independent legal advice can help ensure that each family member’s rights and interests are protected. Consulting with a lawyer can also help family members understand their legal rights and obligations, and provide guidance on how to resolve the dispute.

In conclusion, inheritance disputes can be complex and emotionally charged. However, there are several effective conflict resolution measures available in Canada to help resolve these disputes. Proper estate planning, mediation, arbitration, litigation, family law acts, trusts, and independent legal advice are all tools that can be used to help resolve inheritance disputes and prevent them from arising in the first place. By understanding these measures and working with professionals, families can ensure that their loved ones’ assets are distributed fairly and without conflict.

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