Disinherited Children and Spouses — Any Recourse?

In some cases, a spouse or child may not figure into a deceased person's last will. The testator may have inadvertently or purposely excluded these family members. Do disinherited individuals have the right to ask a court to seek a share of the estate?

Can Children and Spouses Be Disinherited?

The law allows a testator to decide how to divide his or her estate. However, this freedom is not unlimited. In British Columbia, a testator has a moral obligation to adequately provide for his or her spouse and child.

Where a valid reason exists, courts have, in the past, upheld testators' decisions to disinherit their spouse or child. However, these are fairly rare occurrences. In most cases, these close family members have the right to expect an inheritance. If testators failed to comply with their obligations towards their children and spouse, those family members can make a claim against the estate.

The court has the authority to vary the will to provide the claimants with an inheritance that supports them adequately, despite the testator's intention to disinherit them.

Supporting Dependant Children and Spouses

The strength of a variation claim depends on a variety of factors. These can include:

  • The size of the estate
  • The age of the child
  • The financial situation of the claimant

Financially vulnerable claimants, such as young children or a spouse with limited financial means, may have a stronger claim.

Seek a Professional Opinion About a Disinheritance Claim

The lawyers at Peterson Stark Scott can assist you in asserting your rights to an inheritance. If you are a spouse or child who has been disinherited, contact our Surrey, B.C. office. Call us toll-free at 800-675-2419 or 604-634-2308. You can also fill out our online email form to reach us.