Key Terms in Estate Litigation

Estate Planning & Litigation

Estate Litigation Terminology

If you do not have much experience dealing with court cases or lawyers in general, some of the terms used in legal documents and in discussion with lawyers can be a bit confusing. Wills Variation and Estate Litigation is no exception to this rule. This blog is intended to clarify and explain some of the terms that are most frequently used in estate litigation. If you believe that you have been unfairly left out of a will or have not been given a fair share, it is important to contact a lawyer right away to ensure that you do not miss any important time lines.


Testator/Testatrix: The testator or testatrix is the author of the will. Although a lawyer or notary may have assisted in the formal drafting of the will, the will is written from the perspective of the Testator. The intention of the Testator is very important and in the seminal Supreme Court of Canada, decision Tataryn v. Tataryn Estate, [1994] 2 SCR 807, the Court talked about the need to balance what is “adequate, just and equitable” with the intention of the testator.


Executor/Executrix:   The executor and executrix fill very important roles as he or she is the person charged with ensuring that the testator’s wishes as set out in the will get fulfilled. In wills variation lawsuits, executors usually must take a neutral role. When choosing an executor, it is important to find someone whom your trust and who will be able to handle the important responsibility.


Beneficiary: A beneficiary is someone who is left money, or physical good in a will. Beneficiaries can be people or organizations. If you are planning on commencing a challenge to a will, you will need to name all of the beneficiaries as defendants.


Spouse: This would seem to be self-explanatory, but like many other words which have a distinct “legal definition”, it requires some explanation. The Wills Estate and Succession Act, which came into force on March 31, 2014 has a specific section for when a person is a spouse. Section 2(1) explains that two persons are spouses for the purposes of the act if they were legally married or lived with each other in a marriage like relationship for at least 2 years.  The act also explains that two persons cease being spouses if one or both persons terminates the marriage like relationship or an event occurs that triggers an interest in family property as defined by the Family Law Act. If spouses separate but within one year reconcile and live together again for one or more periods totaling 90 days, they will be considered to have separated.

If you are involved in estate litigation or believe that you have been treated unfairly in a will, contact the Kushner Law Group to schedule a consultation immediately.

Related post: Common Terms in BC Estate Litigation

How to Contact the Kushner Law Group

For most Estate Litigation and Wills Variation cases in Vancouver, the Kushner Law Group offers complimentary consultations by phone and in-person. Call our Vancouver law firm at 604-629-0432 or contact us online to learn more about how we can help you.

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