generally speaking, claimants do not have a claim against assets that pass “outside” of the estate in wills variation claims. The exceptions are if the transfer is tainted and legal remedies such as resulting trust, undue influence and lack of mental capacity are available.
Assets Passing – Probably most people in North America die holding assets that pass from their name to others or their estate that pass both ” inside” and “outside” of the estate.
A deceased’s will only distributes assets that were personally owned by the deceased at the time of his or her death, and these assets are said to pass through, under or “inside” of the deceased’s estate.
Many other assets owned by the deceased may pass “outside” of the deceased’s estate by mechanisms independent of the will.
In a wills variation action brought under section 60 WESA, a claim is limited to assets in British Columbia that pass “inside of the estate” pursuant to the will of the deceased.
If the deceased is not have a will, then there cannot be a wills variation claim and the assets will pass as an intestacy.
Similarly, there is no wills variation claim in the following assets owned by a deceased:
1. Property owned as a joint tenant with a right of survivorship with someone else;
2. named beneficiaries under an insurance policy;
3. proceeds from pension plans with named beneficiaries;
5. gifts made during the lifetime of the deceased;
The list may not be exhaustive but it includes probably a majority of assets owned by the majority of Americans and Canadians that pass upon a death.
For example, most spousal couples likely own their property in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship, so that upon the first of the owners to pass, the property automatically goes to the survivor and does not form part of the assets that pass under the will.
As previously mentioned, it is not possible to bring a wills variation claim against a proper joint tenancy.