Fido Was Left Everything? How to Undergo Wills Variation When Pets Are Involved
We all know a pet owner who treats their four-legged friend as a child. But when the pet owner leaves Fido everything and their children and spouse nothing, what can be done? While these situations are not common, it doesn’t mean they don’t or won’t happen. Klein Lawyers explains your rights in a wills variation case when pets are involved.
When the Estate Goes to a Pet
Though not widely common, an increasing number of Canadian families are leaving some provisions for their four-legged relatives who may outlive them. Under Canadian law, pets cannot be named as beneficiaries of an estate directly, as they are considered personal property. However, provisions can be made in a will to ensure that a furry, feathered or scaly family member is taken care of after its owner passes.
In cases where a pet owner leaves their pet a large amount of the benefits of the will, compromising the amount left to the spouse and children, a family may contest the validity of the will.
According to section 60 of British Columbia’s Wills, Estates and Succession Act:
“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.”
The Wills, Estates and Succession Act (“WESA”) recognizes the moral obligation of a testator (the person making the will) to provide for the maintenance and support of a spouse (includes same-sex marriage and “marriage-like” relationships lasting 2 years or more) and children (natural or adopted; stepchildren are excluded). Obviously, dogs, cats, etc. are not included in the definition of spouse or children.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t contest the will pursuant to the adequacy provision.
Life Can Be Ruff. Contact Our Wills Variation Lawyers Today
Challenging a loved one’s will is an emotional process–especially when your spouse has put the family dog above you.
With all of these factors in mind, it is important to work with an experienced lawyer who is committed to winning the maintenance and support you deserve.
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.