British Columbia families that find themselves facing conflicts during the probate of a loved one's estate can probably trace the disputes back to long before the death of their loved one. The weeks and months following the loss of a parent or other close relative can be emotional, and latent animosity among siblings or stepchildren can erupt into challenges that can only be resolved in court. Many of the questions and confusions that lead to estate litigation are the result of poor planning and lack of communication on the part of the deceased.
Heirs or supposed heirs may have the right to challenge a will or other document if their parents' final documents seem illogical. For example, a parent who neglected to revise an estate plan after remarrying may have made provisions for the previous wife, such as in a trust, that remain valid despite the divorce. Additionally, failing to adequately protect biological children may leave them with no inheritance if the parent remarries without revising his or her will.
Handwritten wills, in addition to the risk that they are invalid, may lack clarity and thoroughness enough to stir strong emotions among heirs. A family member would be wise to seek counsel about the contents of a loved one's handwritten will. This may be especially important if the will is confusing, allows for a variety of interpretations or fails to provide for changes in circumstances.
A will may not always divide assets equally, and some heirs may feel the will is unfair. This may not be a legal reason to pursue estate litigation. However, if the will seems questionable in validity or execution, an heir in British Columbia may wish to find answers from a skilled professional.