Surrey Will Estate Disputes Lawyer
Having to deal with a family members death is tragic and always a very emotional time for those close to the deceased. However, this emotional pain is made worse when a person has been treated unfairly or left out completely from the deceased’s last Will and testament.
An unfair Will may leave people who are rightfully entitled to benefit from the estate of the deceased, struggling financially and emotionally for long periods of time. The Wills Estates and Succession Act (“WESA”) governs Wills and Estates in BC. WESA specifies the time limits that people have to dispute or challenge an unfair Will. WESA also governs the process by which a person can ask the court to invalidate or change a Will.
Since there is a time limit within which you must apply to dispute or challenge an unfair Will, you must act quickly to get fully informed and understand your rights.
WESA provides that if a will-maker dies leaving a will that does not make adequate provision for the proper maintenance and support of the will-maker’s spouse or children, then the court may change the Will to make provisions for the spouse or children that it thinks adequate and fair in the circumstances. WESA ensures that loved ones can not be disinherited without adequate cause. Under WESA, a deceased person has an obligation to leave part of their Estate to their spouse and a moral obligation to provide for their child.
Under BC law, a spouse is defined as one of two people who are either married to one another, or who have lived in a marriage like relationship for at least two years. This, needless to say, includes same sex couples.
Spouses cease to be spouses when they separate. Separation occurs when one spouse communicates their intention to separate permanently, or when one spouse takes actions that demonstrates they intend to separate permanently. Therefore, spouses can be separate even if they continue to live under the same roof.
Separated spouses once again become spouses, and have standing under WESA, if within one year of separation, the spouses begin to live together again in an effort to reconcile the relationship, for a period totalling at least 90 days.
The next important definition with regard to WESA is that of the ‘child.’ With regard to WESA, a child means a natural birth child, a step-child, or an adopted child that has been adopted by the step-parent. A disinherited step-child who has not been adopted cannot challenge a Will under BC law.
A Will must be challenged within 180 days from the date the court issues the grant of probate. The grant of probate is the formal certificate given by the court which certifies that a Will has been proven, validated and registered. The grant of probate gives the Executor of the Will the legal authority to proceed with executing the Will.
Challenging a Will is a complicated process and you should contact our office as soon as possible to see how our lawyers may be of assistance to you.