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What clauses could lead to wills and estates litigation?

British Columbia residents may make bequests to their loved ones as they see fit. However, the terms of those bequests must meet certain standards in order to avoid wills and estates litigation. Below are examples of the types of standards individual bequests must meet in order to remain valid upon death.

Individuals can place conditions on a bequest, but they must remain within reason. Obviously, the law would not allow any bequest that requires an individual to break the law, divorce a spouse, relinquish custody of a child, discriminate against an ethnic or religious group, or otherwise violate public policy. However, the restrictions do go further than that.

Any conditions placed on a bequest must be specific. For instance, giving a certain amount of money to someone only if the individual meets a certain condition must include details. Simply saying that someone will continue to receive money as long as they live in a certain place will more than likely be nullified by the court. If the same condition was for, say, five years, that might meet the requirements of the law.

If a British Columbia resident requires an heir or beneficiary to complete a certain task in order to receive a bequest, the individual must have the ability to do so. For example, a testator cannot require the person receiving his or her home to live in it. Even if a person is technically able to meet that condition, he or she should not be forced to do so in order to receive the bequest.

For those wanting to place conditions on certain bequests, it would be wise to make sure the condition does not violate the law or otherwise place the heir or beneficiary in an impossible position. All that will do is more than likely lead to wills and estates litigation. Avoiding this eventuality will help ensure that everyone receives their intended inheritances since litigation can needlessly drain the resources of the estate.

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