Estate Law & Planning
Point of Law Litigation
Dealing with an estate is a significant responsibility—often far more than a person imagines when agreeing to be an executor (also known as a “personal representative”). This responsibility is even more difficult while coping with the loss of a loved one.
Clients rely on us to help guide them through administering an estate, navigating the probate process, and the many requirements of dealing with the surrogate court, the tax department, banks, creditors, government, beneficiaries, and others. It can be overwhelming. We can also assist you with locating the will and any codicils, and ultimately, with distribution of the estate. We streamline the process efficiently for you and provide some relief when you need it most. Book an appointment.
Estate Planning involves preparing wills, trusts, enduring powers of attorney, and personal directives. We appreciate that many circumstances are unique, and some are sensitive. Our clients trust our decades of experience which spans a vast range of situations, including difficult family dynamics, complex assets arrangements, and contentious matters to bring sound advice and confidence to your plans.
We ensure your wishes are expressed accurately and that they should endure any legal challenges or attempts to be contested. Careful and thoughtful planning will ultimately help your appointed family or friend follow through more easily on your planned decisions.
Our estates team are skilled and experienced advocates for our clients. Anne de Villars and Victoria Jones lead the firm’s practice in this area and are well-respected practitioners of estate law. For over 20 years, Anne was a member of the board of the Alberta Law Reform Institute where she has worked on reforming Alberta succession law. Victoria has taken up where Anne left off and worked with other members of the estates bar to streamline and reform the grants of probate forms and usher in the Surrogate Digital Service. Book an appointment.
Enduring a contested estate, or other conflicts regarding estates, are among the most stressful times that our clients face. The conflicts often feel personal, and they are almost always complex. There are times when differences arising in an estate cannot be resolved yourself.
Whether you are the executor or an interested party, we can provide insight and support from our many years of laser-focus on these types of matters spanning three decades. We can realistically assess your situation and provide critical insight into your position and likelihood of success.
Our estate litigators will help you understand the process, represent your interests skillfully, and guide you through to the court’s decision. Book an appointment.
When there is a dispute over an estate, we look first to mediation as a way to resolve contentious issues (but also understand that sometimes a judge needs to sort things out). Contentious issues may include: threats to contest a will, misunderstandings about anticipated inheritance, entitlements to property or other assets, the status of a will or the capacity of the deceased to make or amend a will, whether an executor is properly administering an estate, and many other types of conflicts.
Our approach is always to try dialogue and peaceful mediation before turning to the costly and often divisive option of having the court decide.
We understand that estate disputes are first and foremost human issues that are often personal and sensitive. Mediation is as much about the healing process as it is about legal circumstances, so our lawyers take every possible step to deal with those involved in conflicts with compassion and care to preserve all relationships.
Mediators are often experts in their field, always neutral and highly skilled in helping the parties come to an agreement. Our lawyers serve as mediators and as lawyers in support of our clients in mediation. Book an appointment.
Whether you are a first time homebuyer or a veteran of the real estate scene, de Villars Jones can assist you with what is often considered to be one of the most significant transactions of your life.
Our residential real estate team will ensure all conditions are met for a smooth closing. We are also able to provide advice regarding any estate implications that might arise.
We also handle less common real estate matters that include:
- Selling or purchasing under a power of attorney
- Transferring land title to an executor for probate purposes
- Removing deceased owners from the land title
- Paying out existing mortgages
Our real estate services not only cover residential properties in Edmonton, but residential properties all throughout Alberta. Book an appointment.
Arbitration is another alternative to resolving disputes in a courtroom. Arbitration is a more formal process than mediation where those involved present their case to a neutral third party – the arbitrator – who makes the final and binding decision. It is usually faster, private and less expensive than litigation. Your conflict is assured to be resolved, one way or another; you pay one fee and get to move on with your life. A qualified arbitrator is agreed upon by both parties and they often hold expertise or experience that gives you confidence that a fair outcome will be achieved.
de Villars Jones lawyers can act as arbitrators or as counsel to parties in an arbitration. David Phillip Jones is a Chartered Arbitrator, and his skill as an arbitrator in both labour and commercial matters is respected across the country. Book an appointment.
de Villars Jones wrote the book on administrative law… quite literally! David Jones and Anne de Villars first published Principles of Administrative Law in 1985, which has been regularly updated and is now in its 7th edition. Book smart, yes—but also well-versed in applying what they know.
Administrative law deals with the interaction between people and governmental agencies. It involves the authority of governmental agencies to make particular decisions, and also the processes used for making those decisions. Administrative law issues can arise in any area where the government is involved—-including the organization of professions, professional discipline, access to information and personal privacy, resource development, environmental regulation, and a myriad of other examples.
Our clients include individuals, businesses, members of the judiciary and government bodies. Book an appointment.
Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship
When an adult is unable to make decisions about their own personal or financial affairs, another person must assume these responsibilities.
If documents that set out the adult’s personal and financial instructions (such as a personal directive or enduring power of attorney) have not yet been prepared, an application to the court is required in order to appoint someone as decision-maker on the adult’s behalf.
Our lawyers have many years of experience making applications for those who must appoint a loved one in a decision-making capacity. We bring sensitivity and compassion to these matters, especially when challenging conversations are necessary to bring you the peace of mind you desire. Book an appointment.
A solution you choose is always preferable to one that is imposed on you. This is the belief that underlies our strong focus on mediation, where the people involved have mutual control of their situation and find their own solutions. The mediation process is almost always more peaceful, more timely, less stressful, and less costly than taking a dispute to court to resolve.
A skilled mediator brings out an individual’s underlying needs so that they can find solutions to satisfy those needs. Mediation is very flexible and can often allow for solutions which could never be achieved through the strict application of the law as required by a court.
de Villars Jones lawyers frequently act as the neutral mediators, chosen by both parties and other lawyers, working with all sides in a dispute to find creative solutions that work for those involved. We also act as legal counsel for our clients involved in mediation. Book an appointment.
Our small and medium-sized business clients operate across many industries, such as retail, hospitality, food services, construction, professional services, distribution, and transportation. Many are family-owned and operated businesses.
Business owners appreciate our ability to advise on how a corporation may affect estate planning, particularly in a family enterprise environment. And we will always ensure proper procedure is followed to keep our clients’ corporations in good standing.
Our most common corporate services include:
- annual filings
- preparingcorporate resolutions
- minute book maintenance
- corporate searches
- supporting ongoing governance requirements
Point of Law Litigation
“Point of Law Litigation” involves cases where the facts are not really in dispute, but there is an issue about the legal rule which applies to the case and whether an appeal can take place.
Because of our firm’s academic strength over a wide range of legal areas, lawyers at de Villars Jones are regularly involved in these types of cases, and often receive referrals from other law firms. Book an appointment.