How to Contest a Will in British Columbia

By Tom Streissguth

If you wish to contest a will in British Columbia, you must follow the law of the province concerning wills and estates. Before an estate can be distributed to heirs, a will must be validated by the provincial probate court, which decides if the will was created and executed according to the law. There are various grounds for contesting a will, but in all cases it is important to present strong evidence in favor of the plea and adhere to court deadlines for bringing your action.

If you wish to contest a will in British Columbia, you must follow the law of the province concerning wills and estates. Before an estate can be distributed to heirs, a will must be validated by the provincial probate court, which decides if the will was created and executed according to the law. There are various grounds for contesting a will, but in all cases it is important to present strong evidence in favor of the plea and adhere to court deadlines for bringing your action.

Step 1

Check the status of the will by an inquiry to the clerk of probate court. This should be done as soon as possible after the death of the testator (the individual who executed the will). If the court has already made a grant of probate to the executor of the will, then your claim against it becomes more difficult, although not impossible.

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Step 2

File a petition in probate court to commence your action. State your grounds for contesting the will. In British Columbia, this may include improper execution, meaning the will was not properly signed or witnessed. Other grounds include the use of undue influence by one of the will’s beneficiaries, or the incapacity of the testator.

Step 3

Prepare evidence supporting your allegations against the will. You may be able to prove undue influence through spoken or written testimony by witnesses; incapacity can be proven by medical records and evidence presented by treating physicians. You may prove improper execution through evidence in the will itself; for example, the signatures of the required two witnesses may be missing, or the will may not be in written form. Either circumstance invalidates the will in British Columbia.

Step 4

Attend the probate hearing scheduled by the court to determine the validity of the will, and present your evidence to the court. If the court decides that the will is valid, you may still apply to have the will varied (changed) under the Wills Variation Act, but only if you are the surviving spouse or a child of any age of the testator. The deadline for such an action is six months from the date the will is admitted to probate. If the court accepts your petition under the Wills Variation Act, it may change the terms of the will

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References

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North Carolina Statute of Limitations for Filing a Will

A will contains the final wishes and instructions for distribution of property to heirs of the will's author, also referred to as the testator. In North Carolina, a will must be filed with the probate court within the time frame stipulated in state laws to be eligible for probate, the proceeding used to give authority to the executor.

How to Contest a Last Will & Testament in Arizona

If you're the beneficiary of a deceased person's will or believe you are entitled to inherit, you may contest the will in probate court if you believe the will isn't valid. Arizona law provides several circumstances that may render a will invalid. It is best to contest a will as soon as possible before distribution of the estate occurs. However, once an estate is closed, you can still make a claim against the personal representative, who is the person responsible for managing and distributing the estate, for a breach of fiduciary duty. A claimant also has three years after the decedent’s death or one year after the date of distribution to file a claim.

Advice on Contesting Wills

A will contest or a will challenge is a court case brought to dispute the validity of a will, according to FindLaw. In most cases, a will contest is filed with the probate court, and the executor of the estate is responsible for defending the will's validity. It may be wise to hire an attorney for a will contest. He will know your state's laws regarding will challenges, and may increase your chances of success.

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