A Will Challenge under the Indian Act
In keeping with yesterday’s blog on a British Columbia real estate matter, today I focus on another BC case – Albas v. Gabriel 2009 BCSC 198 – that involves the Indian Act, a federal statute.
For a quick recap of the interplay between provincial and federal jurisdiction regarding estate matters and First Nations people living on reserves, I refer to David Smith’s 2007 blog: The Administration of Estates under the Indian Act.
Albas v. Gabriel involved an action by the plaintiff, as executor of the estate, for a declaration proving the deceased’s Will in solemn form. The defendant beneficiaries appealed to the Minister of Northern and Indian Affairs because the Minister has jurisdiction to approve a Will made by an Indian and to confirm the appointment of an executor to administer the estate. Specificially, the Minister’s authority is provided by section 43 of the Indian Act.
A member of an Indian Band and a resident of a reserve, the deceased operated a trailer park and he was a “locatee” of the land because he owned “certificates of possession”: valuable assets that he left equally to his daughter and two step-children. This was just one of the businesses with which the deceased was involved.
The daughter challenged both the validity of the Will and the administration of the estate. The judge determined that the daughter believed that if the Will was declared invalid, she would inherit the entire estate.
Because of the Will challenge, the Minister transferred jurisdiction over the estate to the Supreme Court of British Columbia pursuant to s. 44(1).
Ultimately, the Court found that the Will was valid because it was not forged and the testator had capacity as well as knowledge of the Will which he approved.
Enjoy your day.