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?

Bill

Bill

Mission, BC

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 their 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

  • 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

  • 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. 

For more, see challenging your spouse or parent's will.

Hiva Parandian

Hiva Parandian

Fasken
  • Reviewed in June 2019
  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada

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