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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ontario court confirms parents may cut adult children out of the will

There is an interesting new case from Ontario that clarifies the question of whether a parent can cut an adult child out of his or her will. A parent has always been able to do so, but there have always been questions lurking around about whether the child who has been left out can contest the will on moral grounds.

The case in question, Verch Estate v. Weckwerth, involved a father who left his entire estate to his daughter-in-law, and nothing to his own children. All of his own kids were adults, and were financially independent of him. The children contested the distribution under the will saying that it was not fair, and asked the court to change the will to include them. The court refused. The children then appealed the decision, saying that at trial the judge was wrong because he didn't find a moral obligation by the father to include the children. The appeal court shut them down again, saying they were completely wrong about there being such moral obligation.

It's important to note that parents still cannot cut out adult children who are dependents. This includes a child who has a mental or physical disability that prevents the child from earning a living. There are legal rules about who qualifies as a dependent, and just the fact that you are a child of the deceased is not enough.

This is interesting because so many adult children assume that they are going to inherit, and don't take into consideration that their parents may have other ideas. Hell hath no fury like a beneficiary scorned.

Everyone who doesn't get what they expected under a will declares that it is unfair and announces his or her intention to contest the will, but they have to slow down and learn the law that applies to their situation. This new case helps to confirm that the courts in Ontario are not going to change a perfectly valid will just because someone doesn't like it. This is going to be tough for some to accept, but the courts have spoken.


2 comments:

  1. Hi Lynne,
    I am a beneficiary to an estate and have some concerns. Can you provide a number so I can make an appointment to speak with you?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great post! Been reading a lot about probate law. Thanks for the info here!

    ReplyDelete

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