Daughters Expect To Inherit Like Sons

Daughters expect to inheritDaughters expect the same inheritances as sons and if they do not receive an adequate and just share, they have the right to claim for a wills variation under Section 60 WESA.

 

I was contacted by a Notary today enquiring if it was permissible for an ethnic client of his to leave her entire assets to her oldest son and to disinherit her other children who were primarily daughters, and I advised that under BC law, daughters and sons have an equal expectation of inheriting from their parents.

This is a common question and I took the liberty of sending him a copy of the decision Prakash and Singh v Singh 2006 BCSC 1454, where a mother left most of her assets to her two sons and only $10,000 each to her daughters.

The daughters successfully sued and were awarded a near equal share to their brothers.

 

The LAW

 

The reasoning of Smith J. in Ryan v. Delahaye Estate, 2003 BCSC 1081, 2 E.T.R. (3d) 107 at paras. 67-68:

“The adequacy of a moral claim is not easy to assess, especially where a child has not been disentitled, but has received something less than her sibling.  In the absence of express reasons for an unequal distribution, contemporary standards create a reasonable expectation of children sharing equally in a parent’s estate.  However, no legal obligation exists to do so.  The court must be cautious that it does not use the legislation to rewrite the will and thereby disregard the testatrix’s motives or reasons in distributing her estate in the manner she has chosen.

Express reasons for the distribution of an estate form the basis for determining if the distribution of a testatrix’s estate is adequate, just and equitable.  The law requires an examination of the accuracy of the express reasons in order to determine if they are accurate and therefore valid and rational in the circumstances that existed at the time of the testatrix’s death.”

 

[57]            In terms of moral obligations, Mrs. Singh chose an option that fell short, that is, according to the moral norms of our Canadian society. A variation is needed.

[58]            In modern Canada, where the rights of the individual and equality are protected by law, the norm is for daughters to have the same expectations as sons when it comes to sharing in their parents’ estates. That the daughters in this case would have this expectation should not come as a surprise. They have lived most of their lives, and their children have lived all of their lives, in Canada.

[59]            A tradition of leaving the lion’s share to the sons may work agreeably in other societies with other value systems that legitimize it, but in our society, such a disparity has no legitimate context. It is bound to be unfair, and it runs afoul of the statute in this province.

Trevor Todd

Trevor Todd is one of the province’s most esteemed estate litigation lawyers. He has spent more than 40 years helping the disinherited contest wills and transfers – and win. From his Kerrisdale office, which looks more like an eclectic art gallery than a lawyer’s office, Trevor empowers claimants and restores dignity to families across BC. He is a mentor to young entrepreneurs and an art buff who supports starving artists the world over. He has an eye for talent and a heart for giving back.

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