Why real estate prices matter when inheritance disputes arise

This article looks at how real estate prices are having an impact on British Columbia estate litigation.

It will come as little surprise to most British Columbians that Vancouver has some of the highest real estate prices in the country. Furthermore, as the Vancouver Sun reports, soaring house prices are also becoming an issue in the suburbs, with some Greater Vancouver regions seeing home prices rise by over 45 percent just in the past year. Not only are home prices a hot topic of conversation for people looking to buy and sell in Greater Vancouver, they also have major implications for estate litigation and planning.

Estate litigation in British Columbia

Conversations about estate planning are taking on major importance for families across Canada. As CBC News recently reported, assets owned by Canadians aged 75 and over could be worth up to $900 billion, with much of that being inherited by their children, most of whom are themselves over 50 years old, within the next decade or so.

In British Columbia, inheritances have become an especially big topic for a lot of families. That's because the average inheritance in British Columbia was recently estimated at approximately $225,000, which is the highest in the country and well ahead of the national average of $180,000. Simply put, with so much money at stake for so many families, the likelihood of more inheritance disputes cropping up seems almost inevitable.

The role real estate plays

British Columbia is unique in terms of estate litigation not just because of the size of the estates here, but because of the outsized role real estate prices can play in such litigation. Real estate is one reason why inheritances in British Columbia are already much larger than they are in the rest of the country. However, not only are real estate prices high, but, in Vancouver at least, they are still rising rapidly.

The volatile nature of home prices in Greater Vancouver means that disputes surrounding real estate are more likely in British Columbia. For example, a will that was written in 2005 and which bequeaths a Vancouver property to one child and a Kelowna property to another child may now longer reflect the true wishes of the testator since the Vancouver property, more likely than not, will have appreciated much more in value since 2005 than the Kelowna property will have. As a result, a dispute may arise between the two heirs about whether the will in question still reflects the testator's true wishes.

Wills and estate law

Estate litigation can be a very difficult experience for people, not only because it can cause plenty of emotional distress but because the issues at the centre of such litigation may be overly complex and detailed for most people to fully grasp. A wills and estates lawyer can help families who are dealing with an estate litigation issue. Such a lawyer can provide helpful legal advice, which can go a long way towards providing peace of mind and clarity during what is often a difficult time.