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Carrying Out Final Wishes

Estate administration can be complicated by disappointed heirs

Simply put, a will makes clear how a person wishes his or her estate to be distributed after he or she passes away. In a perfect world, the executor of the estate will see to it that the instructions are followed properly, the estate is settled and life goes on. Unfortunately, things do not always go perfectly during estate administration, especially if someone chooses to challenge the will.

In British Columbia, a disappointed beneficiary may decide to contest a will if based upon evidence that he or she did not receive a fair share of the estate. There are many possible reasons on which to base a challenge. For example, a spouse or child may believe they did not receive enough support from an estate. A judge may rule the will was unfair if inadequate provision was made for support of a spouse or child, and order the will changed to provide a fair amount of support.

The mental capacity of the testator may be called into question, and the court will have to rule on whether he or she was capable of making a fair and reasonable will. Outside evidence may be offered, such as emails and letters, to either support or refute the validity of the will. Again, the court may choose to strike down parts of a will, or the entire will.

These are just two examples of ways in which a will may be challenged. Though challenges like these do not happen every time, they are a possibility of which an executor needs to be aware. The task of estate administration can be challenging, time-consuming and certainly emotional. Having ongoing assistance from an attorney who practices estate law in British Columbia can make the process much less burdensome.

Source: cbac.org, "The Disappointed Beneficiary", Accessed on Dec. 31, 2016

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