A recent court ruling illustrates the importance of wills variation law in B.C., which is meant to protect vulnerable people from being left out of the family inheritance.
The judge heard that a deceased woman left a will and estate worth $1.8 million that largely disinherited her only child Sharon, who suffers from a severe disability. Sharon was represented by the Public Guardian and Trustee throughout the trial.
The rationale for the deceased’s disinheritance of her disabled child was that she felt if her daughter was left significant funds, her caregivers would use the money to take her on trips, which she felt was a waste of money since, “Sharon wouldn’t really know the difference between Florida and Stanley Park.”
In her ruling, Madame Justice Francis disagreed that the deceased’s reasoning was valid or rational.
“To the extent that the reason for the very small bequest to Sharon…was to ensure that Sharon could not engage in travel, one of the things in life that brings Sharon great joy, the bequest borders on being cruel.”
The judge ruled that the rest of the estate should be transferred to Sharon given her strong moral claim to it, and the lack of competing legal or moral claims.
Sharon, who may have been rendered a ward of the province if not for her inheritance from her mother, is a prime example of a disinherited child who did not deserve such ill treatment from her mother’s last wishes.
Luckily, there is a provision in place in B.C. which allows the court to intervene in such circumstances.
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