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Adult Children Making Gains

My colleague Natalia Angelini blogged on February 18 of this year about the increasing possibility that independent, adult children may be entitled to dependant support.

A 2009 Ontario Bar Association paper by Susan Woodley concluded that moral obligations of deceased parents in Ontario may require them to provide proper and adequate support to their children, spouse and dependants.

While the legislation in British Columbia clearly distinguishes any case from that province, a consideration of a recent case on point illustrates the roots of this evolving trend. 

In Sikora v. Sikora Estate 2009 BCSC 195, two of four adult sons of the testator brought an action under B.C.’s Wills Variation Act.  The Deceased had one child by his first marriage, three children with a subsequent common-law spouse, and at his death he was married to the defendant, San Meei Sikora. The Deceased’s residue to be divided amongst three sons equalled just over $11,500.

The two plaintiff brothers maintained contact with their father despite a difficult childhood. Each plaintiff provided evidence of respective incomes of about $90,000 and $35,000 and described their relationships with their father whom they assisted in his business and investment properties over the years. The Deceased’s wife’s responses created some credibility problems for her.

Justice Cullen reviewed the case law from the Supreme Court, Tataryn v. Tataryn Estate and a B.C. case, Clucas v. Clucas Estate (1999), 25 ETR (2d) 175 (BCSC) that summarizes the principles of the Wills Variation Act.

In Sikora, the Deceased’s wife accumulated her own assets while the Deceased did not. The plaintiffs showed that despite their independence their father had a moral obligation towards them.  The residue of the Deceased’s estate diminished in a manner that favoured his surviving wife and his moral obligation to his spouse was less firmly established than in other cases.

The Deceased used his money to purchase the matrimonial home, allowing the defendant to invest her money and increase her own assets. The plaintiffs succeeded and were therefore registered as tenants in common on a property with a life interest to the defendant.

Thank you for reading this week.  Enjoy your weekend.

Jonathan