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Do I need an estate litigation lawyer

Disclaimer: This article on choosing an estate litigation lawyer is intended for the purposes of providing information only and is to be used only for the purposes of guidance. This article is not intended to be relied upon as the giving of legal advice and does not purport to be exhaustive.

Estate law is more than preparing a will or settling an estate after the death of a loved one. There is also the litigation side of estate law. This article is designed to help you understand if you need to pursue estate litigation and if so, what that would look like.

At Beeksma Law, we practice in a variety of areas, including estate litigation. We understand that disputes involving estates can be unquestionably difficult and emotional. We provide guidance to help our clients navigate these complicated cases, so they are able to make the best decisions for their families.

Firstly, a note for those planning their estate.

Preventing Estate Litigation

To begin with, if you are planning your estate,  it is important to take steps to prevent future disputes. This includes ensuring that your will is clear and properly drawn with the help of an estate lawyer, that all assets are properly allocated, and that executors and trustees know what is expected of them. With proper planning, you can be more confident that your executor will follow your wishes and avoid disputes.

What is estate litigation?

Simply put, estate litigation is when someone seeks legal action because of a dispute involving the management, control and distribution of property within an estate.

Let’s consider some examples of when someone may want to pursue estate litigation.

  • Challenging or contesting a will
  • Disputes related to how the estate executor carries out their duties
  • Disputes related to how much a beneficiary receives from an estate or how much the estate is worth
  • Issues related to how a power of attorney is being used
  • Disputes between co-executors
  • Disputes between co-attorneys of a power of attorney
  • Disagreements between beneficiaries
  • Disputes related to compensation for the estate trustee
  • Guardianship and incompetency disputes
  • Disputes that arise when there is no valid will

If you think you may need to pursue estate litigation, discuss this with an estate litigation lawyer immediately. In Ontario, estate litigation is time-sensitive. You must file a claim within two years after you knew or ought to have known that there was an issue. Generally, the legal standard is that the time limit begins when a “reasonable person” would know there was a problem.

Litigating an estate claim

Let’s very broadly outline how the process works if you need to litigate an estate claim. At any point, either side can file motions requesting that the judge make an order on a certain issue.

First, one party files a claim, along with any affidavits and evidence to support those claims. Then, the respondent responds to the claim, which includes their own affidavits and evidence. The applicant may or may not reply to the respondent.

Thereafter, each party cross-examine the other under oath about the materials, as well as any affidavits that they have filed.

Mediation is mandatory in Ontario. Mediation is where a neutral third party helps the parties come to an agreement. However, if this is unsuccessful, the case goes to trial, and both sides present their evidence and arguments to a judge. The judge will make a  decision and issue an order that the parties must abide by.

Resolving an estate dispute without going to trial

It’s important to acknowledge that estate disputes are highly emotionally charged. Beyond the legal issues involved, grief sometimes makes people act irrationally or want to right wrongs that have nothing to do with the facts being disputed. We understand that and therefore work hard to help our clients move forward in a healthy manner while protecting their legal rights.

Litigation is simply never the best option. Litigation is time-consuming, difficult and expensive. It does not allow you to move forward in handling the estate or putting the dispute behind you. In many instances, mediation or negotiation resolves any estate disputes.

Understanding Estate Litigation With Beeksma Law

At Beeksma Law,  we understand estate litigation and how to handle it in a respectful way. With extensive experience litigating estates, we are strategic advocates when it comes to protecting your legal rights.

Book a call with our team today for your complimentary consultation.

Why You Might Need a Litigation Lawyer in 2023

Disclaimer: This article on hiring a litigation lawyer in 2023 is intended for the purposes of providing information only and is to be used only for the purposes of guidance. Please note this article is not intended to be relied upon as the giving of legal advice and does not purport to be exhaustive.

At Beeksma Law, we have been practicing law for quite some time and through different economic climates. We have seen how the practice of law changes as world conditions change. For example, we remember how our practices changed during the recession of 2008 and the boom of 2017.

By all accounts, we can expect the economy to continue to shift in 2023. Recently, Royal Bank predicted back-to-back negative quarters as early as January 2023. However, we don’t want to be all doom and gloom. We cannot control the changes that will take place in the economy, but we can control how we handle those changes.

Our experience has shown us that when there is a downturn in the economy, there is a greater need for litigation lawyers. At Beeksma Law, we can provide you with knowledgeable legal counsel and representation when it comes to litigation matters.

In this article, we will outline specific areas where you may need our litigation expertise as we move into 2023. We will also outline some steps you can take today to protect yourself, your families and your business.

Two people having a business disagreement - one of the reasons you may need a litigation lawyer in 2023

Business Disputes

This is the largest area where we see an uptick in litigation files. You may find it harder to get paid by clients as people face harder economic times. You may find yourself in other disputes.

A knowledgeable lawyer is crucial when navigating these situations and ensuring that you are lawfully protected. (Of course, enforcing your contract means being able to show that you upheld your contractual obligations.)

However, it is also important to have a lawyer on your side to prepare strong contracts. Those strong contracts will protect your interests. Your budgets may be stretched a little thin, but this is one area that you should prioritize. Without a contract in place, you are more likely to have to pursue litigation to resolve your issue. This is much more expensive than having contracts prepared.

Arming yourself with strong, well-written contracts is the single best thing that you can do to protect yourself and your business before 2023.

Real Estate Litigation

We still see some sales held up by a sudden inability to close because the purchaser can no longer get financing.

When that happens, you need an experienced advocate to negotiate how to close the deal. However, if the parties cannot agree (a topic for a future blog post), a seller’s only option may be to sue.

Of course, you can protect yourself well before you get to that point. A prudent lawyer will be able to help you structure a sale that protects your interests. She will also help you document everything in the event you need to pursue litigation.

Estate Litigation

If you are an executor or administrator of an estate, you may face more inquiries from beneficiaries during tough economic times. When people are struggling financially, they may be more likely to challenge the terms of a will or trust.

In other situations, you may suspect your loved one’s power of attorney is mismanaging the estate, leading to disputes. It’s important to note there is a 2-year limitation period where you have known, or ought to have known that a power of attorney was mismanaging the estate. Therefore, you need to be aware of your rights and act quickly in these instances.

If you find yourself in the middle of an estate dispute, it’s best to consult with a lawyer early to protect your interests and the wishes of your loved one.

Preventing Litigation in 2023

Litigation is stressful, time-consuming, and expensive. It can also have long-term impacts on a business or individual’s reputation. That is why it is so important to protect yourself now before we move into 2023.

It’s said that the best defense is a good offense, and we could not agree more.

At Beeksma Law, we specialize in working with clients to prepare them for any legal issues that may arise. We can help you review contracts, provide advice on how to structure transactions, and more. We will also be there to represent your interests if a dispute arises.

If you think you may need a litigation lawyer in 2023, book a call today. We can help you navigate potentially difficult situations with confidence.

Do You Need a Shareholder Agreement?

signing a shareholder agreement

Disclaimer: This article on what to include in your shareholder agreement is intended for the purposes of providing information only and is to be used only for the purposes of guidance. This article is not intended to be relied upon as the giving of legal advice and does not purport to be exhaustive.

After incorporating your business, You may think that the hard part is done. You may not want to spend money on unnecessary legal fees. However, one important document you should not overlook is a shareholder agreement.

This article will explain what a shareholder agreement is and why it is important to protect your shareholders’ interests. We will also discuss the different provisions you should consider in your agreement.

You have worked too hard in your business to not protect your interests. At Beeksma Law, we are active within the entrepreneur community (we are entrepreneurs, too!) and understand your needs. Book a call with us today to discuss your corporation’s needs. We would be happy to help you!

What is a shareholder agreement?

A shareholder agreement is a contract between a company’s shareholders. It sets forth their rights and obligations with respect to their ownership interests in the company. The agreement may also include also provisions, which we will outline below, governing the management and operation of the company.

A shareholder agreement must be in writing and signed by all shareholders in order to be valid. You must keep the signed copy and any amendments in your corporate minute book. (To learn more about what should be in your minute book, please see this article.)

Do I need a shareholder agreement?

While not legally required, we recommend a shareholder agreement if your company has more than one shareholder. A shareholder agreement can help avoid disputes between shareholders by setting clear rules and procedures for the management and operation of the company.

It is also important to have a shareholder agreement in place so that all shareholders know their rights and obligations concerning their ownership interests in the company.

You do not need a shareholder agreement if you are the sole shareholder or if you have a not-for-profit corporation.

a person signing a shareholder agreement

Why do I need a shareholder agreement?

Many people do not think that they need a shareholder agreement. We can compare it to a marriage. At the beginning of a relationship, everything is perfect, and you are in a honeymoon period. However, arguments can arise over time, and your relationship can change.

Similarly, while everything may be running smoothly in your business at the moment, it is important to have a shareholder agreement in place to prepare you for any potential disputes that may arise down the road.

Think of a shareholder agreement as a form of insurance for your business. It will protect your interests and help keep the peace between shareholders if disagreements occur.

Shareholder agreements protect both majority and minority shareholders. Let’s outline how shareholders protect each group.

How Shareholder Agreements Protect Minority Shareholders

If you are a minority shareholder (meaning you own less than 50% of the shares), you may worry that majority shareholders may take advantage of you or push you out. A shareholder agreement can help protect your interests by including provisions that give you certain rights and protections, such as preventing some decisions unless there is a unanimous agreement.

For example, you may include a clause that all shareholders must approve any decision to issue more shares. This will prevent the majority shareholders from issuing more shares and diluting your ownership stake in the company.

Another example is a drag-along clause, which gives minority shareholders the right to sell their shares if the majority shareholder decides to sell their stake in the company. This ensures that you will not be left holding shares in a company that you do not want to be a part of.

How Shareholder Agreements Protect Majority Shareholders

The majority shareholder owns more than 50% of the company’s shares and is protected by a shareholder agreement. For example, when a majority shareholder wants to sell their shares and leave the company, they may include a clause in the shareholder agreement that requires the other shareholders to sell their shares as well (known as a tag-along clause).

How Shareholder Agreements Protect All Shareholders

Regardless of whether you are a minority or majority shareholder, there are some provisions that will protect all shareholders.

One common provision is the right of first refusal. This means that if a shareholder wants to sell their shares, they must first offer them to the other shareholders before selling them to a third party. This gives the other shareholders an opportunity to maintain their ownership stake in the company and avoid doing business with a stranger.

Your lawyer will also recommend a provision that determines how to resolve disputes. As we noted in this article, litigation can be expensive and time-consuming. Including a provision in your shareholder agreement that requires shareholders to mediate or arbitrate their disputes can help prevent the situation from escalating and costing the company time and money.

Finally, consider what will happen if a shareholder passes away. Those shares will become part of the deceased shareholder’s estate, unless otherwise stipulated in the shareholder agreement.

There are many different types of shareholder agreements, and the provisions you include will depend on your company’s needs. It is important that you seek legal advice to ensure that your agreement is tailored to your specific business and protects all shareholders involved.

Beeksma law meeting with a client to prepare a shareholder agreement

Beeksma Law and Your Corporation

At Beeksma Law, we love supporting small businesses and corporations as they grow. We are active within many business communities and know how much you have put into making your business a success.

That is why we want to help you protect your business. We want to ensure you have the right shareholder agreement in place. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. We can determine what provisions to include and draft an agreement that meets your company’s needs.

We look forward to hearing from you!