Goodman Law Successful at Varying Will at Trial

Posted on by Goodman Law

In addition to injury claims, Goodman Law also provides legal services for estate litigation. Our latest case Webber v. Sullivan, 2019 BCSC 1522 involved a deceased mother who disinherited her two daughters in favor of her two sons.

The will left the entire estate to one of the sons, the other having been provided for with a substantial gift before the mother passed away. The estate was valued at $434,000.

The case dealt with lengthy and difficult family history, with a number of complicating dynamics including allegations of child abuse. The defendant sons denied that our clients were entitled to anything from the estate. The defendants made allegations of estrangement and relied on the deceased’s will that indicated our clients were “uninvolved”.

At trial we argued that the will did not make adequate provision to our two disinherited clients. Evidence of continued contact with deceased through phone calls and visits was adduced. It was argued that the deceased had not met her moral obligation to provide something for our clients, and there was no credible evidence to suggest that our clients had done anything that would justify the deceased cutting them completely out of the will.

Madam Justice Horsman agreed, writing:

[172] Tataryn instructs that, if the size of the estate permits and there are no circumstances negating an obligation, a testator should make some provision for adult children in a will. In the present case, the size of Betty’s estate does permit some provision for the plaintiffs, and I conclude that there are no circumstances which would negate Betty’s moral obligation to the plaintiffs. In particular, the evidence does not establish any wrongful conduct on the part of the plaintiffs, or an estrangement with Betty that would justify their complete disinheritance.

As a result the will was varied 15% to provide for our clients. This case highlights that even where there is a difficult relationship between child and parent, there are moral obligations on a will-maker to provide for his or her children in the will. If you have been disinherited unfairly by your parent contact Goodman Law to seek your portion of the estate.