Are you looking into how to deal with being disinherited by parents in Ontario or BC? This article will go into detail on how estate law works, and what you should do.
Of course, the first step is to book a consultation with one of our estate lawyers in either Vancouver or Toronto. In addition to providing consultations in these cities, they can assist people anywhere in Ontario or British Columbia.
If you are reading this, you probably feel you have been treated poorly in a will. A loved one has passed, and you feel you have been disinherited.
Most of the time, you might have had a disagree with the parent before they passed. Or maybe you just grew apart over time. Life happens.
In estate law, the term “estrangement” is used. It means that the child and parent were no longer friendly with each other.
Some people will directly write the reasons for the disinheritance into their will. They might say that they were disappointed in the child, and they felt they should get less.
Or perhaps, one of the children did well financially over the other child. The parents left more in their will to the lower-income child.
Chances are that you know you should book a consultation with a law firm in Toronto or Vancouver.
Attorney Fees For Estate Disputes | Disinherited By Parents
For estate disputes, you have two main options for legal fees.
- Hourly rate
- Contingency fees
Depending on how strong your case is, you might want to think about the hourly rate. Lawyers will often take over 30% of the fees you collect on contingency.
Let’s say you are entitled to $100,000. That means you will give up $30,000 to the law firm.
If you were entitled to $1,000,000, you would give up $300,000.
Do not assume that a percentage is better than the hourly rate. Sometimes it’s better to just invest in your legal case with your own funds.
You can discuss this with the Ontario or BC lawyer during your free consultation.
How Do Will Disagreements Happen?
There are many ways that a disagreement over a will can start. These days, there are a lot of divorces and separations.
Maybe the parents of a child got divorced. Let’s say your father got full custody of you. You might have seen your mother once per year.
You grew up with your father and his new girlfriend. Maybe since your mother didn’t see you, she left most of the assets to a child she adopted.
This sort of situation can play out in different ways. Maybe one child went with one parent, and the other child went with a different parent.
Your mother also might have had a new child with her new boyfriend or husband. Either way, speak to someone on our legal team in Toronto or Vancouver.
How Do You File A Complaint Against The Estate?
A claim in British Columbia is starting with a wills variation claim. If you want to learn about Ontario, see this article that our lawyer in Toronto wrote.
In BC, your lawyer would file the wills variation claim in the BC Supreme Court.
Even if you were not close with your parent, the courts have often ruled in favour and allowed the will to be varied.
What your lawyer will be trying to prove to the judge is that it was the parents’ fault that the relationship wasn’t good.
If you were making efforts to fix the relationship, and the parent didn’t care, they the judge might say it was the parent’s fault.
However, as is often the case with law, it’s not that simple. That’s why a lawyer can help when someone is disinherited by their parents.
What Will The Judge Consider?
The judge will have to look at the evidence, and possibly hear the testimony of witnesses. Expert opinions are rarely used in inheritance disputes.
The judge will also look at the other people mentioned in the will. The courts will also consider the number and value of assets. Every day the judge assigns to you is taken away from someone else.
Below is a real case where all the information has been changed. It will help you understand how estate litigation works.
Disinherited by parents? Book a consultation with a law firm today.
Who Can Challenge A Will?
British Columbia has the most favourable laws for people that want to challenge a will. Courts in BC very often will make changes to wills.
The judges want to see that the children have been taken care of in a fair way.
This can lead to a significant rewriting of a will. So who is a spouse or child?
A spouse can be a common-law partner (two years) and married couples. Separated spouses cannot challenge a will.
Spouses are not separated if they get back together. They need to get back together for at least 90-days.
A child means a natural birth child or a stepchild. Adoption can also come into play.
You have 180 days to challenge a will. So don’t wait. Fill out the form on the side of this page to speak to a lawyer, today.
Valid reasons to disinherit or leave a lesser share to your spouse or child
In British Columbia and Ontario, there is an onus on the person making the will to treat people fairly.
Keep in mind that under certain situations, it’s perfectly okay for a parent to disinherit a child.
There might be good reasons to do it. If you want to do it, you need to have valid, logically connected, and reasonable.
Bad reasons to disinherit |Disinherited By Parents
- Imagined drug user
- Thoughts that the child is wealthy
- Imagined theft of the assets of the parent
- If a parent leaves you out of the will because you failed to visit every week would likely not be seen as being rational by the courts.
There are also valid reasons to kick someone out of your will. However, you cannot take someone out of your will just because they are gay or transgender.
These days, you also can’t leave everything to your sons, and not your daughters, because women “can’t be trusted with money.”
You also can’t discriminate because your child married someone of a different race or religion.
There are ways to successfully challenge wills. But why should a will be challengeable at all? Why can’t people decide what happens to their money?
When someone doesn’t properly provide support, it can lead to people needing to be supported by the taxpayer.
Sometimes people can’t make wills. They might not have understood what they were doing. For example, they could have:
- Been under pressure to sign the will
- Had a mental disease like Alzheimer‘s or Dementia
- They might not have understood what they were signing
- The will might not have been properly created and signed
Judges in British Columbia and Ontario have the power to make changes to wills if something is wrong. People can hire a law firm to challenge a will. They can also do this if the will was unfair. This is true even if the child wasn’t poor and had their own money.
How to deal with being disinherited by parents
In this case, let’s say there is a couple that was married in Vancouver, BC. Further, one of the spouses was Alistair, the other was Sarah.
Back in 2015, they decided to hire family lawyers and sign a separation agreement.
In the separation agreement, Alistair agreed to leave 25% of any inheritance he received to Sarah.
Once Alistair told his mother “Victoria” about the separation agreement, Victoria decided to change her will. Therefore, Alistair was now to only receive a small amount of inheritance.
Instead of receiving much inheritance, Victoria gave $400,000 to Alistair shortly before her death.
Alistair said these were gifts and loans. After receiving the $400,000, Alistair only received $10,000 from the estate.
The wills variation claim
Sarah, Alistair’s ex-wife, filed a notice of claim for her 25%, of the alleged inheritance of $410,000.
Therefore, the claim value was $102,500.
Alistair of course said that his inheritance was only $10,000. Therefore, he agreed to pay Sarah $2500. Sarah did not agree to this settlement offer.
Does the separation agreement only cover inheritance, or can it cover debts and unrepaid loans?
Were the gifts and loans part of Alistair’s inheritance?
Sarah also claimed against the executor of Victoria’s will. The claim against the executor of the will was quickly dismissed.
This claim was simply to enforce the separation agreement signed between Alistair and Victoria.
Supreme Court Judges Ruling | Disinherited By Their Parents
The judge decided that the $400,000 in un-repaid loans and gifts were substitutes for the inheritance. This was done to avoid paying money to Sarah.
The judge did allow for a certain amount to be counted as gifts. In the end, the judge awarded Sarah $80,000 plus her legal fees. Also, she was entitled to interest.
Wills, Estates and Succession Act Lawsuit
Here is another case that went before a British Columbia court. Again, we have changed the names and facts.
In this new lawsuit case, there was someone called Stacy who hired a lawyer to bring a claim under the Wills, Estates and Succession Act. Stacy’s mother, Lisa, had died.
The value of her estate was assessed at $1,000,000. She had a will, and she left it all to her two sons. No inheritance was provided to Stacy. Stacy had been very upset when her parents got divorced.
Stacy moved out of her home when she was sixteen years old. Further, she continued to speak to her mother from time to time. Stacy’s mother attended her wedding. She then moved to the east coast of Canada with her new husband.
In conclusion, if you have been disinherited by parents in BC or Ontario, contact us.