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Odds of Winning Contesting a Will


Contesting a will can be a difficult and emotional process, but for some, it may be the only way to seek justice and ensure that their loved one’s final wishes are honored. In this article, we will explore the process of contesting a will, including the odds of winning, the grounds for contesting a will, and the potential consequences. We will delve into the various legal strategies available to those who wish to contest a will and the types of evidence that may be presented in court. Whether you are considering contesting a will or are simply curious about the process, this article will provide you with the information you need to understand the legal landscape of will contests. With an understanding of the odds of winning, the grounds for contesting a will, and the potential consequences, you will be better equipped to make informed decisions about your legal options.

How to Contest A Will And Win

How to Contest A Will And Win

Contesting a will in British Columbia can be a complex and challenging process, but it is possible to win if you have a valid legal claim and can provide evidence to support your case. Here are the steps you should take if you wish to contest a will in British Columbia:

  1. Understand the grounds for contesting a will: In British Columbia, the grounds for contesting a will are limited to lack of capacity, undue influence, fraud or forgery, or non-compliance with formal requirements. You must have evidence to support your claim that the deceased lacked the mental capacity to make a will, was unduly influenced by someone else, that the will is a forgery or fraud, or that it was not executed in accordance with the law.
  2. Gather evidence: Gather all relevant documents and evidence, such as medical records, bank statements, and any other documents that may be relevant to your claim. If you suspect undue influence, try to find evidence of the relationship between the person who unduly influenced the deceased and the deceased.
  3. Consult with a lawyer: It is recommended that you consult with a lawyer who is experienced in contesting wills in British Columbia. A lawyer can advise you on the strength of your claim, the evidence you will need, and the best legal strategy for your case.
  4. File a notice of contest: Once you have a strong case, you will need to file a notice of contest with the Supreme Court of British Columbia. This will start the legal process and provide the executor of the estate with notice that the will is being contested.
  5. Attend court: Once the notice of contest is filed, you will need to attend court to present your case. You will need to provide evidence to support your claim and cross-examine any witnesses called by the executor of the estate.
  6. Be prepared for the outcome: Even if you have a strong case, there is no guarantee that you will win. The court will consider all the evidence presented and make a decision based on the law and the facts of the case.

When you should contest a Will by

When you should contest a Will by

Do your research and make an informed decision within six months. If you’re the spouse or child of the testator, you can apply for a variation of a will pursuant to section 60 of the Wills, Estates, and Succession Act (WESA) if you have not been provided with an adequate, just, or equitable inheritance in all the circumstances. You have to make a claim within 180 days of when the will is probated, or processed as valid, to the Supreme Court of B.C.

If you aren’t a spouse or child of the testator, you may still have a claim to set aside the will for other reasons, such as lack of capacity or undue influence. The same timeliness principle applies. Research your case diligently and make an informed decision sooner rather than later.

What if the Will is unfair?

What if the Will is unfair?

Unfairness is frustrating at best and emotionally painful at worst.

Here’s how the law handles unfairness. Under WESA, the testator must provide for the surviving spouse and children in way that is “adequate, just or equitable”.  A testator owes both a legal and moral obligation to provide for his or her spouse. The legal obligation looks at what the surviving spouse would be entitled to receive if there was a separation just prior to the testator’s death. The legal obligation would be looked at under the lens of the Family Law Act, as a notional family claim before the courts. The court also rules based on ‘moral obligation’. Factors include how long the couple was married, the joint standard of living, and any sacrifices the surviving spouse made for the family or for the testator. Another factor is the size of the testator’s family.

Testators only owe a moral obligation to provide for their adult, independent children. Factors to be considered include the quality of the relationship between the child and the parent, whether there has been estrangement, whether there has been misconduct on the part of the child, whether the child has provided extensive caretaking services to the parent, and whether the child has already received an inheritance from the other parent who predeceased the testator.

How do I know if the deceased was mentally able to execute a valid Will?

How do I know if the deceased was mentally able to execute a valid will?

Here are the basic criteria. The testator had to know what a will is when writing it. If the testator had dementia or delusions, that presents an immediate red flag for the court. He or she must have understood the legality of the document and its influence on the surviving family. The testator must have been aware of the assets he or she owned and must also have recognised the ‘moral duty’ owed to the surviving family members. Finally, the testator cannot be suffering from a fixed delusion about a family member that relates to that family member’s inheritance under the testator’s estate. If these factors don’t exist, there is the potential of setting aside the will as invalid.

What if someone pressured the testator?

What if someone pressured the testator?

Subtle manipulation and outright abuse of elderly testators is sickening but does happen. It’s possible that the testator’s caretaker had too much influence in the will. Here’s a note of caution for you: tread carefully.

If the court declares your claim invalid, you might be responsible for the other party’s legal fees. Research your case and decide if you’re willing to take that risk. You must prove that the testator would have acted differently without that influence. If the testator was dependent on the caretaker, your case may be easier to justify.

Stand your legal ground

The emotional stress of legal action is compounded when the issues are deeply personal and involve close family members. At Onyx Law Group, we choose to be a place of support for our clients while providing competent and passionate legal advocacy. Give us a call. Our lawyers seek equitable solutions for you and we stand by you through the process.

Have questions about a topic?

Onyx Law Group represents clients in family law, estate and trust litigation, estate planning and probate matters. Consult with our experienced team at 
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