Testamentary Freedom Reconsidered
A recent case arising from British Columbia addresses whether a deceased parent is able to disinherit their child as a result of their sexual orientation.
As outlined in the recent National Post article, found here, a daughter has commenced a claim against her father’s estate on the basis that she was left out of the Will because she is in a lesbian relationship. Specifically, the father’s Will leaves the entirety of his estate to his other children, and nothing to the disappointed daughter.
The disappointed daughter alleges that her parents never accepted her sexual orientation and isolated themselves with her and her long-time partner. For example, the parents did not attend their daughter’s wedding. Apparently, this is the basis for the disinheritance.
Interestingly, this is not the first time the BC Courts have been required to address sexual orientation in Wills. In the 2006 BCSC decision of Peden v Peden, Justice Groves struck down a Will where a deceased father failed to approve of his son’s homosexuality on the basis that, “…homosexuality is not a factor in today’s society justifying a judicious parent disinheriting or limiting benefits to his child”.
Although, the laws in BC and Ontario are different with respect to the requirement of a testator to make adequate provision for spouses and children, given the recent decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal in BMO v Spence, it will be interesting to follow the applicability of sexual orientation to challenging an Ontario Will.