Michelle Isaak is a partner in the Vancouver office where she practises wills, estates and trusts. Michelle joined the firm after completing her articles with the firm. Before focusing on estate and trust law, she practised general litigation, appearing at the trial and appellate levels of court and making written submissions to the Supreme Court of Canada.  Before joining the firm, she clerked at the B.C. Supreme Court for the late Chief Justice Brenner and five other justices of the Court.

As part of her practice, Michelle advises clients on all aspects of trust and estate planning, including wills, alter ego trusts, and family trusts involving privately held companies.

A significant portion of her practice is devoted to advising executors, trustees and beneficiaries on estate and trust administration issues, such as obtaining grants of probate and grants of administration; administering assets and trusts; addressing disputes; and passing accounts, both informally and through the B.C. Supreme Court.

Michelle has particular expertise in complex trust, estate planning and estate administration issues, including:

  • Multijurisdictional estates: resealing foreign grants of probate, recovering assets in foreign jurisdictions, and resolving complex conflicts of law issues;
  • Aboriginal estates and trusts: advising First Nations governments and individuals on various issues, including estate administration procedures under the Indian Act, estate planning for individuals, and trusts;
  • Insolvent estates: advising personal representatives on administering a deceased’s assets and liabilities in the context of insolvency;
  • Estates involving acrimonious relationships: advising personal representatives and beneficiaries on estate administration issues and disputes where family relationships are acrimonious, including cases where a beneficiary has become disentitled from a share of the deceased’s assets as a result of murder.

In addition to estate planning and administration, Michelle also advises clients on planning for incapacity through powers of attorney and representation agreements, and addressing capacity issues through committeeship, both for persons being declared incapable and their families, as well as those seeking to be declared capable by the B.C. Supreme Court.

She is also experienced in advising persons with disabilities and their families on the use of trusts to protect disability-related benefits and programs.

Michelle is an annual contributor to CLEBC publications, including the Annotated Estates Practice and the WESA Transition Guide.

She presents frequently on the subject of wills, trusts and estate administration: recent engagements include presentations to members of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), CBA Family Law (Vancouver) Section, the Estate Planning Councils of Vancouver, Abbotsford and Fraser Valley, Canada Revenue Agency, CBA Wills and Estates (Vancouver) Section, and the UBC Faculty Association.

Before entering law school, Michelle was the Assistant Band Administrator for the Fort McKay First Nation in Northern Alberta, a bicycle tour guide in Europe and North America, and the owner/operator of a Vancouver area antiques business.