A recent case released by the BC Supreme Court case illustrates the foundational rationale for wills variation legislation in BC.
In Geluch v. Geluch Estate 2019 BCSC 2203, the Deceased left an estate worth $1.8M and a Will which largely disinherited her only child Sharon, who suffers from severe disability and was represented by the Public Guardian and Trustee throughout trial. The rationale for the Deceased’s disinheritance of her disabled child was that she felt if her daughter was left significant funds, her caregivers would use the money to take her on trips, which she felt was a waste of money since “Sharon wouldn’t really know the difference between Florida and Stanley Park.”
The judge disagreed that the Deceased’s reasoning was valid or rational basis on contemporary community standards writing, “[t]o the extent that the reason for the very small bequest to Sharon under the January 12 Will was to ensure that Sharon could not engage in travel, one of the things in life that brings Sharon great joy, the bequest borders on being cruel.” Madame Justice Francis therefore found that the residue of the estate should be transferred to Sharon given her strong moral claim to the estate and lack of competing legal or moral claims.
While the current Wills regime in BC protects testamentary freedom, the law also protects vulnerable parties. Sharon, who may have been rendered a ward of the province if not for her inheritance from her mother, is a prime example of a disinherited child who did not deserve such ill treatment from her mother’s last wishes. Luckily, there is a provision in place in BC which allows the court to intervene in such circumstances.
Read the full judgment here