Twins Abandoned & Disinherited By Father Awarded 70% of His Estate
Bitterness will get you nowhere, especially when the person you are bitter with has already passed away. A father of twins was bitter that a custody battle didn’t go his way. Accordingly, he specifically disinherited his twins. The twins took the disinheritance to court – they were awarded 70 percent of his estate by a Supreme Court of British Columbia judge.
How can this be?
In the April 7 ruling of Jung v Poole Estate, 2021 BCSC 623, Justice Gordon Weatherill wrote, “The deceased lost the battle for custody and thereafter, through bitterness, stubbornly decided to blame [his children]. He put what he felt was in his own best interests first.”
In fact, the deceased, Ronald Poole, had created two wills. In the first and the second, the deceased claimed the twins, Courtney Jung and Chelsea Backous, were illegitimate, and instructed his executors to fight any attempt by them to vary his will.
Poole had left an estate valued at $879,174.42 which he left to friends Bernard Sabiston and Ian Toombs, the defendants. In addition, Toombs received $138,974.85, which did not form part of Poole’s larger estate as Toombs was the named beneficiary of a registered retirement savings plan and a joint owner of two tax free savings accounts owned by Poole.
When the twins’ mother learned she was pregnant, Poole had discussed the topic of abortion which the mother opposed. From that point on, the two separated and the twins were raised by their mother.
Unfortunately, the mother died in 1990 from medical complications. However, she had prepared a will that named a couple the twins’ guardians. Following her death, the twins’ grandmother and Poole fought for joint custody, with the couple.
At the end of that year, the trial judge ruled in favour of the couple – the guardians – who became the twins’ custodial parents. The judge granted visiting rights to Poole and the grandmother, as well as telephone access and consultations respecting education, health, recreational pursuits, and all other major areas of the twins’ lives.
However, Poole never made contact with the twins again except once via a lawyer one year after the trial.
Why Was the Will Allowed to Be Varied?
While Poole’s will was explicit that he did not want the twins to inherit any of his estate, his motives for disinheritance were what made this case rule in favor of his twins.
Under section 60 of British Columbia’s Wills, Estates and Succession Act (WESA):
“Despite any law or enactment to the contrary, if a will-maker dies leaving a will that does not, in the court’s opinion, make adequate provision for the proper maintenance and support of the will-maker’s spouse or children, the court may, in a proceeding by or on behalf of the spouse or children, order that the provision that it thinks adequate, just and equitable in the circumstances be made out of the will-maker’s estate for the spouse or children.”
Justice Weatherill concluded that, “[he] failed in his last opportunity to behave like a judicious father and recognize . . . his moral obligations to the twins.”
While the case of Jung v Poole Estate is rather unique, it raises the question of whether disinherited children can contest a will? If this is the case for you and your family, Klein Lawyers may be able to help.
Disinheritance, Wills Variation: Klein Lawyers
As a spouse or child who has been disinherited by a loved one, you likely have many emotions and questions. At Klein Lawyers, our estate litigation lawyers will review the will and navigate the legality of your claim of disinheritance. If there are concerns about the rationale behind the disinheritance, our team will also be able to navigate those claims.
Contact Klein Lawyers at (604) 874-7171 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.