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?
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 grant of probate or administration 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.