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An Unfair Will – When Reasons for Disinheritance are Untrue or Irrational

A will that disinherits a spouse or child for untrue or irrational reasons is subject to being varied by the courts as an unfair will. Our lawyers can help.

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To disinherit a spouse or child in a way that the courts won’t interfere with the will maker must have both valid and rational reasons for the disinheritance that are consistent with modern Canadian values.  In the absence of reasons that are both valid and rational for the disinheritance, the estate may be considered an unfair will by the court and can be varied to remedy the unfairness.  If the reasons are true and rational, but inconsistent with modern Canadian values, the courts may still find that the will is an unfair will and vary accordingly.

unfair will
What is an unfair will? What will the courts consider?

Reasons for disinheritance have to be both true and logically connected to the disinheritance.

Untrue reasons stated for disinheritance tend to have common themes that return again and again such as imagined drug addictions or criminal histories, a parent’s mistaken belief that a child is very wealthy, or even conspiracies to steal the will-maker’s possessions. Less common are cases where the will-maker left their estate to other needy relatives who turned out to not exist, or where the will-maker believed his children had conspired to pump poison gas into his apartment.

Beyond being true or not, the reason also has to be rational.

The mother whose son grew marijuana on her property leading to her arrest and conviction for drug possession was found to have had rational reasons for leaving him out of her estate.  On the other hand, the mother who disinherited her son because he failed to fix the fridge in her apartment was not held to have rational reasons and the will was found to be an unfair will.

There are also reasons for disinheriting a family member that may be both valid and have a rational connection to disinheritance that have been found to be inconsistent with modern Canadian social values.

The courts for example will clearly not uphold the unfair wills of parents who disinherit their children for their sexual orientation.  There are some cultural norms that will also not be upheld, such as the custom of providing only for sons to the exclusion of daughters.  Lastly a child who marries someone of a different race, or religion, or nationality can still expect to share in their parent’s estate.

For more information, read about a recent unfair will case from Vancouver in our blog at

If you or someone you care about has been left out of an estate unfairly, the lawyers at League and Williams are here to help, please call 250-888-0002 or email us at for a free consultation.

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