Your Rights in a Wills Variation Claim
In British Columbia wills variation claims, only spouses and children (adopted and biological) have the right to vary a deceased loved one’s will. However, changes to the Family Law Act have made some families question if their rights in a wills variation claim have been altered–especially when the deceased was involved in a short term relationship that yielded high assets. The estate litigation lawyers of Klein Lawyers explains your rights in a wills variation claim.
What Is the Family Law Act?
The Family Law Act regulates the rights of spouses and dependants in regard to property, support, inheritance, prenuptial agreements, separation agreements, and other matters of family law.
While the original Act was passed in the 1990s, updates in more recent years have altered the rights of separated spouses in wills variation claims. According to the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia (“CLEBC”), “The most significant change to the law of wills variation in British Columbia is as a result of the replacement of the Family Relations Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 128 (the “FRA”) by the Family Law Act, S.B.C. 25 (the “FLA”).”
Under both the Wills, Estates, and Succession Act (“WESA”) and FLA:
- Only one spouse (the current) can bring a variation claim while a separated spouse may have an FLA claim against the estate; and
- There are no property division entitlement differences between a married and a common-law spouse, which means there is no difference in the assessment of the legal obligation owed to a surviving spouse.
It is important to remember that in common-law relationships, when the marriage-like relationship ends, so does the spousal status and any entitlement to bring a variation claim.
Short Relationships: Does the Ex Have Rights?
Courts have had to deal with the question of short-term relationships and increased assets. For example, under the FLA, the division of property takes into account short-term relationships, where there is an increase in the value of the property but original assets brought into the relationship by both parties are excluded from the division.
But, in cases where the relationship was short, but the increase in the value of the property was high, the other person may be able to bring into account a variation claim because of the contributions by both.
Be forewarned, these cases are complicated, especially when there are living children.
Your Rights in a Wills Variation Claim: Klein Lawyers
Whenever there is a dispute in a will created by a deceased loved one, there are likely emotional impacts as well as concerns for all parties involved.
At Klein Lawyers, our estate litigation lawyers will review the will and navigate the legality of your will variation claim, and take into account the rights of spouses and former spouses and partners when coming up with the equitable distribution.
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.