British Columbia Will Contested Because It’s “Unfair”
In British Columbia, a will may be contested if the will-maker did not leave adequate provisions for their spouse and children. In addition, the Wills, Estates and Succession Act (WESA) recognizes the moral obligation of a testator to provide for the maintenance and support of a spouse and children. Typically, the courts will review the needs of any adult children though, prior to varying a will. In British Columbia, courts have broad discretion in varying a will to provide for the spouse and children – meaning that if an adult child thinks a will is “unfair,” the courts may still proceed with the wills variation process.
Legal Precedent in Contesting Unfair Wills
In the case, Grewal v. Litt, 2019 BCSC 1154, four sisters decided to contest their parents’ will, arguing that their parents discriminated against them based on outdated traditional values. According to the filing, when Nahar and Nihal Litt died, they left behind an estate valued at more than $9 million. Two sons were given 93 per cent of that estate, while the four sisters were to split what was left.
However, the daughters, now in their 50s and 60s, had actually been more involved than their brothers, in caring for their aging parents and helped build their fortune, working on family-owned farms since childhood. Because of their evolving values, the daughters felt that their parents had unfairly shortened their share of the estate.
The British Columbia Supreme Court agreed, redistributing the Litt estate. The sisters each received about $1.35 million. This distribution became nearly 60 per cent of the family fortune, while the two brothers split the remaining 40 per cent, for nearly $1.8 million each.
It is noteworthy in this case that the brothers agreed that the parents did not meet their moral obligations to their children.
This case is a reminder that BC courts may not accept the practice of parents leaving their male children more of the family estate than females descendants, particularly if the distribution is not equal to the moral contributions.
Can Parents Still Disinherit Children?
Despite this ruling, parents can still disinherit their children so long as there are valid, rational, and provable reasons for it. Courts will examine the intentions of the will-maker itself.
Cases of disinheritance and unfair distributions can be complicated, which is why it is best to have a knowledgeable estate litigation lawyer who can navigate the legal process with you.
Unfair Wills and Disinheritance: Call Klein Lawyers
If you have been unfairly left out of a will or provided inadequate maintenance, you need to call Klein Lawyers. Our team will help determine the basis of your claim and ensure you get the inheritance that is rightfully yours.
Contact Klein Lawyers at (604) 874-7171 or online today for a free, confidential case evaluation. Our wills variation lawyers serve clients throughout British Columbia from offices in Vancouver, Abbotsford, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Langley, and Surrey.