I made a valid will setting out how I want my estate distributed
upon my death. Can someone claim more?
Perhaps. If you have dependents to whom you provided
support immediately before you die, or to whom you were legally
required to provide support, a Court may order your Estate to pay
to them more money if the Court is satisfied that you did not
provide adequately for the person in the Will. This may
result in other wishes in your Will not being carried out as money
may have to go to the dependant, or assets sold to raise money to
pay the dependant, in priority to those other wishes.
Dependents can include: spouses, same-sex
partners, parents, children, or, siblings to whom you either
provided support, or were legally required to do so, prior to your
death. A spouse includes someone who was married to you and
someone who, although not married to you, lived in a relationship
of some permanence for at least 3 years (example: common-law
spouse), or were in a relationship of some permanence and are
parents of a child from that relationship.
When considering whether adequate support was provided, the
Court will consider a broad range of factors such as: the
dependent's needs and their ability to contribute to those
needs (now and in the future); the size of the Estate; the length
of the relationship between the parties; how close the relationship
was; whether there was a breakdown in the relationship; and, any
signed written statement that you made explaining why you decided
to not provide more support to a dependent. The Court
may also consider whether there is a "moral" obligation
based on society's expectations for you to have provided
additional support in the circumstances to a dependant.
In the end, although you may have a proper Will that is
enforceable, if you did not make adequate provisions for those to
whom you owed support, they may get it anyway.
It is not uncommon for parents to provide monetary gifts to their adult children. Parents may wish to help their child with a down payment on a property, or help pay out their child's existing mortgage.
On March 31, 2014, BC's new Wills, Estates and Succession Act1 ("WESA") will come into force. WESA introduces new protections for beneficiaries of estates that are in danger of being disputed or deemed ineffective by a court.
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