What behaviour by a child will justify disinheriting that child?

  • It varies as each case is unique
  • Lengthy estrangement, caused by the child, is a common factor
  • Other behaviour may also justify disinheriting

In Bereyere there was a 30 year estrangement between the testatrix and her daughter.  That estrangement was initiated by the daughter

  1. suing the testator in Small Claims Court over a floor polisher,
  2. opposing the testator’s application for custody of the daughter’s child, who was being raised by the testator without the daughter’s assistance, and
  3. by refusing to consent to the release of $2,000 paid by the child’s father for support of the child.

The judge decided that these facts justified the disinheritance.

In Hall there had been a series of estrangements in the 30 years prior to the testator’s death.  The final alienation, which lasted 8 years, occurred after a minor confrontation that occurred when the testator was in the hospital.  The son then moved, did not provide a forwarding address, and made no effort to contact the testator again.  The trial judge said that a testator who has been rejected by a family member is not required to ignore the rejection.  The Court of Appeal agreed.

In Kelly v. Baker the relationship between the parents and son became strained during the son’s teenaged years.  The son left home at age 17 after a physical altercation with his father.  Over the next 25 years he had little to do with his parents.  He moved away from BC, got married, and returned to BC without telling them.  On the rare occasion that he saw his mother, he behaved unpleasantly.  When his father was dying he neither visited nor communicated with his mother.  The Court of Appeal agreed that there was good reason for the testator to believe that her son had abandoned the family, and good reason for her to feel that her son had treated her and her husband in a hateful and hurtful way.  She was entitled to cut him out of the will.

In Holvenstor the testator had a lengthy list of reasons for disinheriting her son.  Some were false.  Some of the significant true reasons were that the son had:

  1. grown marijuana on her land, resulting in her being convicted with possession and placed on probation,
  2. had tried (but failed) to have the testator declared incompetent,
  3. tried to acquire ownership of her land, requiring her to sue to get the contract cancelled,
  4. kept some of her personal property, again requiring her to sue to recover them, and
  5. sought (but failed to get) a court order to compel her to have contact with him, against her wishes.  

The judge accepted that these reasons were logically connected to the decision to disinherit the son.  A judicious parent could reasonably decide to disinherit a son for these reasons.

Determining whether a disinheritance is justified depends on the facts.  Contact us.  We can help.

Read the cases:  Berryere v. Berryere

                            Hall v. Hall

                            Kelly v. Baker

                            Holvenstor v. Holvenstor