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British Columbians needn't leave kids anything in their wills

Planning what to leave whom after death can be an emotionally fraught task, especially if children are in the picture. But wills don't just have to include children. In fact in British Columbia -- and all of Canada -- folks don't have to leave anything to their kids if they choose not to.

Some movies of long ago used to feature the main characters disinheriting their children for various reasons. But does this really happen in modern-day society? Are people choosing to leave their assets to those other than their offspring? In some countries, laws actually force people to leave a portion of their assets to their spouses or children, but no such laws exist in Canada.

Unless minor children who were dependant upon their deceased parents are involved, Canadians can leave their assets to whomever they please -- so parents can, indeed, disinherit their adult children. Furthermore, estate assets can be divided up in unequal shares according to the wishes of the deceased. Unless the beneficiary would have been a spouse (or equivalent under the law) or a dependent child, a disinherited person has few options.

Laws exist in Canada that allow certain people -- like spouses, children and parents and siblings in some provinces -- to make claims against estates if dependant status can be proven. In other words, they must show that wills failed to provide for them when they relied on the deceased financially. When it comes to challenging a will, the Wills Variation Act in British Columbia is likely the most liberal law in the country.

In certain instances, a will may be challenged as being invalid, but the path is difficult and will require the aid of a lawyer experienced in wills and estate law. It must be ascertained that the deceased persons who made the wills did not have the mental capabilities to do so. British Columbia residents can obtain more information about the formal requirements of wills with the assistance of a lawyer.

Source: Financial Post, "Kids don???t have to get it all", Leanne Kaufman, Accessed on July 13, 2017

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