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Vice & Hunter LLP

Before challenging a will, seek estate beneficiary advice

When someone close has passed, it can be a deeply emotional time no matter what one's feelings truly were for that person. Should one then be left out of the will, receive a disappointing bequest or be displeased with the remainder of the will, emotions can run even higher. At a time like this, estate beneficiary advice is likely in order. Challenging the will could be an option, as it was for three heirs left high and dry west of Ontario.

In Jan. 2016, a wealthy developer died at the age of 88. He left his estate, comprised of corporate shares and a large home and land, to his third wife. She also became executrix of the $57 million estate. His three children from his first marriage received nothing, and chose to challenge the will in court.

They filed a suit in the Supreme Court on Feb. 6, 2017, seeking a variance and damages. In the suit, they claim all three had suffered abuse at the hands of their father, and an effort to confront him led to the lifelong estrangement of his daughter. They allege the transfer of the estate to his widow was fraudulent, and no satisfactory reason for their exclusion appeared in the will.

Any person who believes the validity of a will is suspect, or that the terms of the will are unfair, should know that they are not alone. Many disappointed heirs and beneficiaries have made legitimate challenges to existing wills. An experienced Ontario lawyer can offer estate beneficiary advice in situations like this, and may be able to suggest an appropriate course of action.

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