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What are the grounds for contesting wills in Ontario?

When a family member or a loved one passes away, it is a sad time for everyone connected to that individual. Sometimes, there may be solace found when the executor administers the will; a kindly bequest may be a welcome reminder of the relationship there once was. Sometimes, however, the bequest is disappointing, or even non-existent. Under certain circumstances, it may be possible for a disappointed heir or other party to contest the will. For anyone considering such actions, it may be helpful to have a brief look at the valid reasons for contesting wills in Ontario.

If one is expecting a certain quality of bequest, anything less may be disappointing. That does not mean one can challenge a will simply based on unmet expectations, however. It is necessary to show that the will is invalid for some reason.

For example, if there is a technical flaw in a will, it could be declared invalid. Such flaws include not having witnesses' signatures, or having an inappropriate witness such as a spouse. Other flaws to look for are vague language or contradictory bequests.

There may be evidence to support the notion the testator was not mentally fit to make a will, or that late additions to a will were made while mentally incapable of making a rational decision. Similarly, it may be that another party unduly influenced the late individual when the will was made. This sometimes goes hand-in-hand with mental incapacity; an unscrupulous person may try to coerce a mentally infirm person into leaving him or her a favourable bequest.

Proving wills, or portion of wills, to be invalid is not easy. Doing so successfully will almost certainly require the skill of an experienced lawyer. A lawyer who understands estate law in Ontario can advise on the viability of a potential challenge, and help with its execution, should that come to pass.

Source: FindLaw Canada, "Contesting or challenging a will", Accessed on May 2, 2017

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