Generally speaking, there is no law under the wills variation act that says children must be treated equally by a deceased parent, and it has been unusual for a sole disinherited child to receive greater than 50% of an estate in a wills variation claim.
One of the leading cases in wills variation claims in British Columbia is my own decision where I acted for plaintiff, in the case of Ryan vs. Delahaye 2003 BCSC 1081 , the reasons for judgment are which are on this website under my cases. In that decision the daughter had been left 20% of the estate while her brother had been left 80%. More importantly the brother had benefited much more beneficially from his parents then his sister, and his position in life was extremely contrary to that of the plaintiff. The court varied the Will and the sister was awarded an equal share as the brother.
The decision raised national news as many Canadians mostly in other provinces do not adhere to the principle that there is a moral obligation on a parent to provide for an adult independent child who is capable of being self-supporting. British Columbia is the only province in Canada who has such a law and we have had it for almost 100 years.
Here are two’s short summaries of decisions were an adult child was awarded more than 50% of an estate:
- In McMain v. LeBlanc, 2013 BCSC 891, the will-maker’s estranged son was completely disinherited. The $330,000 estate was left solely to the will-maker’s niece. The court found that the will-maker was the primary cause of the estrangement, as he unilaterally withdrew from parent-child relationship. The plaintiff was awarded $180,000 from the estate.
- In Baulne v. Baulne Estate, 2002 BCSC 1905, the parents of the claimant committed suicide together, taking with them their disabled son. The claimant was the only surviving child of the deceased couple. For various reasons stated in their mirror wills, including the claimant’s refusal to allow them to have access to their grandchild, the deceased couple disinherited the claimant from their estates, which had a combined net value of $467,000. The claimant’s refusal to allow his parents to visit their granddaughter was true, and in fact, formalized in a restraining order obtained by the claimant. Notwithstanding the truth of the will-makers’ reason for the disinheritance, the court held that the deceased parents, particularly the mother, were jointly responsible for the estrangement, and varied the will such that the claimant received 60% from each of his parents’ estates. The defendant beneficiaries of the wills were the nieces and nephews of the claimant’s deceased parents.