While there are several different scenarios that can lead to a person being disinherited by a parent, the end result is always the same: hurt and confusion. No one expects to find themselves in a disinheritance situation, and it often comes as an added shock during an already difficult time.
However, if you’ve been disinherited, especially if the reasons are unclear or unexpected, a wills, estates, and trusts lawyer can help you come to grips with the situation and take action when appropriate.
If you’re facing a disinheritance situation, there are three important facts to know.
- A last will and testament is not necessarily the final say
Just because someone has written a will—that is, has testamentary freedom—it does not exempt them from the legal obligation to provide adequate provision for their children. The British Columbia Wills, Estates and Succession Act allows disinherited children, both biological and adopted, to challenge the provisions of a parent’s will.
- One child cannot be unfairly favoured over the others
If you’ve been disinherited by your parent but your siblings haven’t, a wills, estates, and trusts lawyer will be able to argue for the equitable redistribution of your parent’s estate. That is, in modern-day Canada, sons can’t be favoured completely over daughters, or the eldest completely over the youngest. However, note that stepchildren aren’t able to bring a wills variance claim to court in British Columbia.
- You do not have to prove financial need in a wills variance claim
Although proving financial need may seem like a key element in a wills variance claim – it isn’t. In a disinheritance situation, a judge will take into consideration factors such as the parent’s moral obligation to provide for a child, the relationship between the parties during the testator’s lifetime, and the reasonable expectation of the claimant to be included in the will.