Wills Variation Legislation by Province and Territory

Wills Variation legislation allows spouses, children, or dependents to seek changes to an existing will. A change can be requested if the claimant believes that the will is not equally distributed or doesn’t provide adequate provisions to support the deceased’s spouse and children. Contesting a will can be a complex process, as the claimants must prove the reason for their application.

The Wills Variation Legislation varies in each province and territory; certain legislations are more giving, while others are more rigid. For example, in Alberta you must be a dependent or a spouse to contest a will. Adult children who are no longer dependent are unable to dispute a will unless they can prove the deceased was under duress or not of sound mind when the will was created. However in British Columbia, any disinherited child, financially independent or not, can contest a will. It is nuances like these that make reviewing the will legislation for your province or territory so important. 

 

Take the case of the Litt family who owned and operated multiple farms in British Columbia. The Litt estate was valued at $9 million, and 93% of it was left to the two sons, with the remaining 7% being left to the four daughters. The daughters took their brothers to court and argued that the will was discriminatory based on gender. In court, the daughters outlined how they helped grow the estate through their work on the farm as well as caring for their parents during the years preceding their deaths. In the end, the Supreme Court of British Columbia agreed that the will was discriminatory, redistributing the estate to give 60% to the daughters, and 40% to the sons. 

 

Use the chart below to read about the wills variation legislation for each province and territory. 

Province or Territory

Legislation Governing 

Will Variation Issues

Alberta**

British Columbia

Manitoba*

New Brunswick*

Newfoundland and Labrador

Northwest Territories

Nova Scotia

Nunavut

Ontario*

Prince Edward Island*

Saskatchewan*

Yukon*

*Adult children have no right to challenge a will even if they are not beneficiaries. The only exception is children who can prove they were dependent on the testator.  

 

**Alberta’s Wills and Succession Act puts forward that a testator's adult child may apply for relief only if they are unable to earn livelihood due to disability or under certain circumstances, enrollment in full-time studies.

We endeavour to provide accurate information, but if you should notice an error, please email us at info@estatebox.ca so we may correct it!

Last updated June 2022