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"Unfair" wills may be challenged in court

In preparation for their eventual demise, many people make arrangements for the distribution of their estates after their passing. Wills are probably the most common method employed for this task. Although a person may choose to distribute an estate however he or she sees fit, within reason, there may be circumstances in which disgruntled heirs cry foul and challenge the will in court. Such an event is currently taking place here in British Columbia.

A wealthy local real estate developer passed away in Jan. 2016. In his will, the deceased left the entirety of his estate to his third wife. The will also names her as executrix of the estate. Notably absent from the will were his three adult children, all born during his first marriage.

The children have banded together to challenge the will, and filed suit on Feb. 7, 2017 at the B.C. Supreme Court. All three allege their father abused them during their childhood, both physically and emotionally. One of the three further claims confronting him about the abuse led to her estrangement from him. In their suit, they claim there was a fraudulent transfer of the estate to his third wife to preclude any inheritance they may have received. They are asking the court to award damages and have asked for a variance to the will in order to gain some part of the $57 million estate.

Challenges of wills can be complex and potentially lengthy endeavours. Doing so successfully may require a thorough knowledge of estate law in British Columbia. If a person feels he or she was unfairly omitted from a will, it may be worth contacting an experienced lawyer for advice on how to proceed.

Source: CBC News - British Columbia, "Battle of will: Local family fights over $57M estate", Karin Larsen, Feb. 24, 2017

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