When an individual in British Columbia passes away and leaves a will, the will must go through probate. In theory, the probate process is relatively simple: the will is submitted to the court and its legality is verified before then being administered by the executor. In rare cases, the will may be challenged, usually by hitherto unknown heirs, or those claiming to be heirs. An exceptional case involving multiple claimants challenging more than one will was settled in a court south of the border.
On March 10, 2015, a wealthy doctor and CEO passed away after a battle with cancer. His will, dated Oct. 1, 2013 was submitted for probate. In the will, the doctor left his estate to his second wife and four of the nine children the two shared between them. The challenge to the will was filed on behalf of the remaining five adopted children.
The court heard that the doctor had drawn up several wills over the course of his life. Prior to the 2013 will submitted for probate, wills were also drafted in 2012, 2006, 1998 and 1994. Each successive will excluded more and more of the adopted children. The contestants had hoped to challenge each will, including the 2013 version, thereby leaving the deceased intestate, and opening up the estate for further division. The final decision of an appeals court was that the claimants had no standing, and the 2013 will was upheld.
This case is an odd example of what can happen when multiple wills are left behind, and the potential hurdles facing an executor during the probate process. Taking on the burden of being an executor or administrator of a will can be a challenging task. Doing so with the advice and guidance of an attorney experienced with British Columbia estate law may make this responsibility easier to bear.
Source: Chattanoogan.com, “Appeals Court Upholds Dismissal Of Lawsuit Challenging Will Of Dr. J. Don Brock“, Nov. 3, 2016