Contentious estate dispute over a cottage

Written by: David N. Delagran

Beard Winter LLP litigation partner David N. Delagran is quoted in article on February 7, 2020, “Court of Appeal reviews ‘evidence of actual intention’ in mother’s will over cottage dispute” by Amanda Jerome.

This article was originally published by The Lawyer’s Daily (, part of LexisNexis Canada Inc.


David Delagran, a partner at Beard Winter LLP and counsel for the appellants, said this “case illustrates some of the perils of succession planning for cottages.”

“Cottages are such a hot button issue these days. In cases like this where you’ve got a mother who does not want to divide the property equally amongst her children, the question for an estate planner is how to give legal expression to what the mother wants to do,” he explained.

Delagran noted that once the Court of Appeal “found that the wording of the transfer was ambiguous, it was open to the court to look at the actual intention of the mother, and to give legal expression to that intention.”

“From a solicitor’s point of view, what you want to do is look at the various options for transferring cottages and whether that includes the flexibility that comes with creating a trust,” Delagran said. “That would certainly be beneficial to the clients to be able to explore those avenues.”

Delagran believed the primary lessons, in this case, are “more on the planning side rather than the litigation side.”

“It’s a common issue that is going to arise for solicitors when they’re asked how to divide up a property that has so many emotional bonds attached to it, so I believe solicitors will be seeing a lot of these cases come across their desk,” he said.

David Delagran practises civil litigation, with a focus on Trusts and Estates Litigation and Commercial Litigation.  He has over 25 years of trial and appellate court experience and has appeared and argued cases before all levels of court in Ontario. In contentious trusts and estates disputes, he represents personal and institutional estate trustees, as well as beneficiaries in all matters arising out of the administration of trusts and estates including administration, will challenges, dependent support claims, interpretation issues and breaches of trust. David works together with the firm’s Estates and Trusts solicitors to form an effective multidisciplinary litigation team. You can reach David at or 416-306-1710.