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Challenging disinheritance: What you need to know

Being cut out of your loved one's will may not only be shocking to you, but also unsettling and upsetting as well. Disinheritance may bring up a well of emotions and many questions, but once you have allowed yourself to feel those emotions, there may be some things you can do when querying the situation.

First, you're likely to find out that there is not just one type of disinheritance. When someone disinherits you directly from his or her estate, it's called exactly that -- direct disinheritance. In this case, the will excludes you totally. On the other hand, indirect inheritance is not getting your fair share of the deceased person's assets as set out in his or her will. In fact, it could mean that unrelated people may be receiving more than you are.

More than just material things

When parents disinherit their children, it's like slapping their faces. A will is essentially a metaphor for the last words parents will say to their children. It is a piece of paper that bears an incredible emotional impact, and most children will view it as how their parents feel about them. A child will take disinheritance as meaning: "I don't love you."

A court challenge

The British Columbia Wills, Estates and Succession Act spells out the legalities associated with challenging wills. If a will is in the probate process, a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee will be in the works. If you challenge the will (also known as contesting), you will have to make a motion for the return of the certificate to stop the trustee or executor from administering the estate. If the will is not yet in probate, you can file a Notice of Objection along with the Certificate of Appointment.

If you are challenging the will, there are two things that may bode well for your case:

  • Medical records of the person whose will is in question, which may show the mental state of the will maker at the time of the will's drafting
  • Notes of the will's drafting lawyer, which may show the rationale behind the disinheritance

If you experience disinheritance, you have the right to challenge the will. Will disputes can be complex. A compassionate lawyer might be able to guide you in the steps you may be able to take to contest the will.

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