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Helen H.  Low

Helen H. Low, QC

Partner Fasken
Jurisdiction Alberta, 2004 | British Columbia, 1989
Language(s) Chinese (Cantonese), English
Office(s) Vancouver
Contact

Helen Low is a wills, estates and trusts lawyer. She assists clients with contentious disputes regarding wills, trusts, inheritances, powers of attorneys and elderly and incapable family members, as well as estate planning for both simple and complex estates with a goal to avoid post-death disputes.  She has been litigation counsel on a broad range of cases, including:  challenges to estate plans; variation of wills and trusts; abuse of powers of attorney and trustee breach claims; committeeship proceedings, asset disputes arising from undue influence, lack of capacity, joint tenancy and other transfers. Helen is consistently recognized by Best Lawyers in Canada, Martindale-Hubbell and Lexpert as a leader in estate law.

Helen also advises clients on estate and business succession planning, including drafting wills, trusts, marriage agreements and other personal planning documents to help business owners and families transfer their assets to their intended beneficiaries without future disputes. For 10 years, she was an adjunct professor at UBC’s Faculty of Law teaching wills and estate law. In 2014, Helen was appointed Queen’s Counsel to recognize her expertise, reputation and contribution in the profession.

Estate Litigation

Helen acts as litigation counsel on all estate-related matters including:

  • varying wills where a child or spouse is disinherited or where there is unfair or unequal benefits given or defending the other beneficiaries from variation claims;
  • proving or challenging the validity of wills, trusts or other estate planning documents;
  • determining true beneficial ownership of joint bank accounts and other joint tenancy assets or beneficiaries designations made outside a will;
  • obtaining court interpretation of wills, trusts and other legal documents
  • applications to vary or wind up a trust;
  • claims for compensation for services provided based on unjust enrichment and quantum meruit or for executors’ fees;
  • acting for and against attorneys related to financial abuse;

Estate Administration

Helen regularly advises executors, administrators and trustees on the proper administration of an estate, will or trust, and on all issues that arise from that office, including their compensation, tax filing obligations and accounting. She also acts for beneficiaries or heirs who have concerns about protecting their rights and entitlements from executors and trustees who are in breach of trust.  Helen has handled complex estates involving assets in different provinces and countries and tax and legal issues arising from different jurisdictions.

Elder Law

Helen also acts on matters involving elderly, vulnerable or incompetent persons. She undertakes incapacity planning for elderly but competent clients, including appointing representatives and attorneys and making estate plans that can withstand legal challenge.  She also advises on the protection of incapable persons, including obtaining court appointments of committees where necessary.

Estate Planning

Helen is often consulted for guidance on both simple and complex estate planning required to preserve the client's inheritance wishes and to avoid future family estate disputes. She also helps clients transition their businesses to subsequent generations to minimize family dissension.

Helen drafts wills, alter ego trusts, joint spousal trusts and family trusts, deeds of gift and other planning documents to transfer assets to the intended beneficiaries in a manner that minimizes taxes and probate fees, preserves privacy and reduces the risk of future disputes and successful legal claims against the intended plan.

Advice to Charities

Helen advises charities and not-for-profits on a broad range of issues, including securing gifts and challenges to charitable gifts.

Professional Qualifications

Helen has provided evidence to court as an "expert witness" in the area of estate law and is a regular speaker and teacher on wills, trusts and estate law in the legal community for lawyers and other professionals.

 

Date

Education

  • LLB University of British Columbia
  • BA, Psychology University of British Columbia

Community involvement

  • Former Director, Canuck Place Children's Hospice
  • Former Director, People's Law School of British Columbia
  • Former Director, BC Children's Hospital
  • Former Vice-Chair and Director, BC Child and Family Research Institute, the research arm for BC Children's Hospital

Memberships & Affiliations

  • STEP Canada, Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners
  • Estate Planning Council of Vancouver
  • CBA, Canadian Bar Association, Wills and Trust Law, Elder Law and Health Law Sections
  • CAGP, Canadian Association of Gift Planners
  • Canadian Association of Law Teachers

Appointments

  • Adjunct Professor, University of British Columbia, Faculty of Law, “Succession Law” Course (2007 to 2016)
  • Former Adjunct Lecturer, University of Simon Fraser, Global Asset and Wealth Management MBA program, “Tax and Estate Planning” Course
  • Former Member, Succession Law Reform Project of the BC Law Institute, leading to the proclamation of the 2014 Wills, Estate and Trusts Act (WESA) of British Columbia
  • Former Member to the BC Health Care and Care Facility Review Board
  • Former Inquiry Officer to the BC Expropriation Compensation Board
Joint Tenancy: What Advisors Need to Know location location Vancouver , BC
Ethical Considerations for Family Business Planning location location Vancouver

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