What to know if you wish to vary a will

Losing a parent is painful for children of any age. The legal process of administering their estate can make the experience even more devastating, especially if you wish to vary a will.

Under these circumstances, it can be crucial to understand a few things about your options and this process.

Legal elements to vary a will

You cannot seek to change a will just because you do not like what it says; you must have legal grounds to do so. Per the Wills Variation Act, certain parties can petition the courts to vary a will only if:

  • The will leaves a spouse or child out, or
  • The will-maker gave an unfair or inappropriate share of assets to a party

Under either of these circumstances, courts in British Columbia may decide to order lump sums or periodic payments to family members eligible for a larger share of the testator’s estate. 

Know that there are other legal requirements that you must fulfil if you wish to vary a will. You must be a spouse or child of the decedent, and you must apply for changes within six months from the grant of probate.

Do I have any other options?

If varying a will is not possible because you are not the decedent’s spouse or child, there are no issues with the fairness of the will or 180 days have already passed, you may still have other options.

For instance, contesting a will could be feasible if you suspect the will is invalid or the will-maker was the victim of undue influence. That said, this process also comes with legal requirements that you must fulfil, so it can be wise to discuss your options and legal remedies with a lawyer.

Talk to your family now to prevent legal issues

It can be highly upsetting to learn that your parent has left you out of their will or does not adequately provide for you. Often, it happens in families with strained or estranged relationships, but it can also occur when a testator fails to update their will or makes a mistake.

Thus, talking to family members before someone passes away can prevent costly, bitter and lengthy legal issues in the future.

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