Many people in Toronto go to great lengths to ensure their assets are distributed in a manner they deem appropriate after their death. Sometimes, however, those who are left behind do not agree with the stated wishes of the decedent. When this happens, they may choose to take their fights over wills and estates to court, much like three siblings are doing in a western province.
The proceedings centre around the large estate of a wealthy developer who passed away in Jan. 2016. In his will, he left his entire $57 million estate to his third wife. Additionally, she is the executrix of the estate, as dictated by the will.
His three children from his first marriage feel they have been unjustly omitted from the will, and the transfer of his estate to his third wife is claimed to be fraudulent. On Feb. 6, they filed suit with a provincial Supreme Court, seeking damages and a variance to the will. In their claim, they allege their father was physically and emotionally abusive to them when they were young. An alleged attempt to confront the man over the abuse led to the permanent estrangement of one daughter.
Omitting certain heirs, notably children and spouses, from a will is a difficult business, and may not always be possible. An experienced Toronto lawyer who understands the legalities of wills and estates can advise a person on how best to structure a will to avoid challenges during administration. With professional help, it may be possible to draft a will that meets ones wishes and will hold up to scrutiny when the time comes.
Source: CBC News - British Columbia, "Battle of will: Local family fights over $57M estate", Karin Larsen, Feb. 24, 2017