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Can I contest my parent’s will?

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Can I contest my parent’s will?
My father left me out of his will. Can I contest his will, even if I’m an adult child?

Can I contest my parent’s will? - Hiva Parandian

In general, a will-maker is free to leave their estate to whomever they want. However, the law in BC requires that the will-maker adequately provide for his or her spouse and children through the will. This includes independent adult children. A spouse or child can apply to court for a share of the estate that is fair in the circumstances. This is called a wills variation claim.

The court considers a number of factors in deciding whether or not to vary a will:

  • legal and moral obligations of the will-maker to their spouse and children,
  • the value and nature of the estate's assets,
  • the financial circumstances of the spouse or child challenging the will,
  • the financial circumstances of the other beneficiaries,
  • the character and conduct of the spouse or child towards the deceased, and
  • the extent the spouse or child was financially dependent on the deceased.

The court looks at factors specific to adult children, including:

  • the child’s reasonable expectations,
  • the child’s character,
  • the relationships between parties,
  • unequal treatment of children, and
  • the will-maker’s reasons for leaving the child out of the will.

The executor must notify certain people of their intention to apply for probate, including anyone entitled to bring a wills variation claim. In addition to notice in the proper form, the executor must send a copy of the deceased's will. 

Any wills variation claim must be started within 180 days of the representation grant being issued. A copy of the initiating pleading (usually via a legal document called a “notice of civil claim”) must be served on the executor within 210 days of the date the grant was issued. 

Hiva Parandian

Hiva Parandian

Hiva Parandian is a lawyer with Fasken in Vancouver, specializing in the area of wealth preservation and succession planning.

Fasken
Written June 12, 2019

For more on wills variation, have a look at the Dial-A-Law page on challenging a will.  

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