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Husband convicted of wife's murder prolongs estate litigation

It is not uncommon for a spouse and other extended family to be in conflict over an estate. But what happens when a spouse is responsible for the death of his or her husband or wife? After being found guilty of second degree murder in the death of his common law wife, a British Columbia man is acting as his own legal representative in estate litigation with his late wife's family.

Despite losing all appeals in the criminal case, the British Columbia resident is continuing to fight a legal battle with his deceased wife's family. The estate litigation has been expensive for the sister of the deceased. It has also resulted in unwanted contact between the convicted murderer and his victim's family, who are trying to avoid face-to-face contact in the trial if possible.

The dispute resulted from a civil case where the family sought damages from the husband. This included half of the former couples' joint assets. The family posits that the amount they are seeking is the same as the deceased would have received in a divorce. The case has remained unresolved for five years and continues to make its way through the court system. 

This unusual case raises several legal questions. Homicides are often committed by people close to the victim, which means that estates can sometimes be left to the person responsible for the death. In estate litigation with complexities such as these, legal counsel from an experienced British Columbia lawyer is key to understanding options and preparing for a civil trial if required.

Source: barrierestarjournal.com, "Six years of grief for murdered B.C. woman's family", Dustin Godfrey, Aug. 30, 2017

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