Whether you are drafting your own will or dealing with the death of a loved one, it is important to have a good understanding of B.C.’s Wills Variation Act.
What is the Wills Variation Act?
The Wills Variation Act is an act in British Columbia law that is intended to protect dependents of a deceased person from financial abandonment. The Wills Variation Act allows the court to modify a will after a person’s death in very specific circumstances.
When Can a Will Be Modified Under the Act?
The court can modify a will if the deceased has not left anything to a person to whom they are deemed legally and/or ethically financially responsible, such as a spouse or child. If a person dies without adequately providing for their dependent(s) in their will, the court may step in and amend the will in order to make the situation more fair for the neglected dependent(s).
To enact the Wills Variation Act, a child or spouse of the deceased must start a court action regarding their being left out of a will within six months of the will in question’s grant of probate. The claimant must present evidence as to why they believe that they should not be left out of the will. Other relevant parties, such as the executor of the will, estate administrator, and/or other beneficiaries will also be heard by the court in order to ensure the most balanced possible hearing.
When making their decision, the court will take into account the deceased’s ethical and legal responsibility to the dependant(s) in question. The court is also concerned with the deceased’s wishes and will seriously consider all aspects of the case in order to come up with a decision that is as fair as possible to the claimant(s) left out of the will while still honouring the deceased’s final wishes regarding the distribution of their assets. Exactly how much the will is to be modified and in what way is ultimately up to the discretion of the judge hearing the case.
If you are drafting your will or believe that you have been left out of a will when you should not have been, speak to a lawyer who specializes in wills and estates as soon as possible. At Hoogbruin & Company, our lawyers have extensive experience with all matters regarding wills and estates, including navigating the Wills Variation Act. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.