In British Columbia, the Wills and Estates Succession Act (WESA) states that everyone must make “adequate provision” in their will for their spouse(s), married or common law, and children of any age (biological or adopted). Therefore, these are the only groups of people who are able to challenge your will. If any of these individuals wish to challenge your will, they must apply to the courts for a review of the will within six months from the date that probate is granted (not from the date of death). The courts will take into account various considerations and has the power to vary the will as deemed fair or necessary.
The success of a will variation claim under WESA has nothing to do with your mental capacity or the validity of your will. In reality, WESA deals with cases of otherwise perfectly valid wills and allows the court the opportunity to make revisions. Because this is rather broad, a person making a will should ask themselves whether the disposition of their estate is fair in their own mind and in the minds of their spouse or child. It’s important to remember that lawsuits by disgruntled spouses or children will cost your executor a great deal of stress and cost your estate money, regardless of the claims merit.
If you think this will become a concern now or in the future, we advise that you make an appointment with your lawyer to discuss your personal circumstances and ensure the safety of your will and estate. There are a couple of common approaches to avoiding adverse effects under WESA and we can discuss what is most suitable for you and your needs. For example, you could:
- Arrange your affairs so that fewer assets are passed through your will. You can use tools for this such as true joint tenancies, gifting assets during your lifetime, using trusts, or using beneficiary designations.
- Distribute the assets passing through the will in an “adequately” fair manner or utilize a separate statement of reasons explaining why you have chosen the distribution method in place. This will be used as evidence before the courts if necessary.
If you are interested in any estate planning services, we are offering 30% off services provided if you book an appointment with us in February. Please note that your initial meeting must happen on or before February 28, 2020 to be eligible for the discounted rates, along with some conditions which we will email you ahead of time. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive our workbook which outlines pricing details, the estate planning process, and the information we need to get you started.
Estate planning is something we all need to do—for peace of mind for ourselves and our loved ones. Our team of skilled legal experts can help tailor your estate planning to your exact needs, ensuring your beneficiaries a stress-free experience in the event of your passing and potentially decrease any fees that may be incurred if a will is not in place.
Paperclip Law is committed to helping our clients throughout the Vancouver Region and Squamish find perfectly tailored solutions when it comes to managing their assets today, tomorrow, and in the many years to come. We believe that estate planning can be simple, and are happy to partner with you to make the process feel easy and transparent. Contact us today to learn more!