Estates & Wills & Trusts

Mastering foreign assets in estate litigation

Toronto trusts and estates lawyer Ian Hull says that a growing number of estate matters — even modest ones — have international aspects to them that require lawyers to have knowledge of best practices for handling foreign elements.

Hull, co-founding partner of Hull & Hull LLP, recently spoke at an Ontario Bar Association program entitled “Litigation and Administration of Foreign Trusts and Assets.”

“With increased globalization, more and more often trust and estates lawyers are representing clients with matters that cross provincial and international borders,” the OBA program reads.

The April event provided up-to-date information on the best practices for handling foreign elements in administration and litigation, with expert faculty advising on the issues that may arise with cross-border trusts and estates.

“It was a fun program to participate in,” Hull tells AdvocateDaily.com. “My practice has grown into work that has more international aspects to it. The program was excellent because it featured a group of practitioners who have really seen the practical side of the complex international issues that arise in estates. It was interesting for me to hear people speak who not only have vast knowledge of some of the intricacies of international issues, but who have also been on the ground.”

Hull’s session, “Mastering Foreign Assets and Beneficiaries in Estate Litigation,” highlighted legal issues and was peppered with his own experiences.

“More and more I do find myself dealing with proceedings in foreign jurisdictions so my session focused on what's it like to actually litigate in a foreign jurisdiction,” he says.

“I've been in the Caribbean on three or four different matters over the past few years. It's fascinating because you have to balance your lawsuit with dealing with local counsel. In some of the Caribbean islands, you even deal with senior counsel who come over from the U.K. to argue the case on behalf of your client. Sometimes you end up being the Canadian wing of the lawsuit, which makes for some unique situations.”

Hull’s session also focused on a few substantive issues, including differences in the law between jurisdictions.

“For example, there's no oppression remedy in the U.K. When you're suggesting tactics in a foreign jurisdiction, something that is quite normal and comfortable in your mind such as an oppression remedy in Canada, does not exist in Caribbean or British law so you have to be careful,” Hull says.

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