Last week I blogged about the anticipated transfer of wealth to the Millennial generation.  While the Millennials are expected to inherit in the next few decades, the Baby Boomers have already inherited and continue to inherit their parent’s fortunes. However, some may be quite disappointed when the waiting comes to an end.

A Maclean’s article from January discusses the expectation of inheritance popular among middle-aged Canadians. It highlights the BC case of Bull Estate v. Bull, arising from David Bull challenging his mother’s uneven inheritance amongst her children – David and Susan. After David inherited significantly less than his sister from both his father and then mother’s estates, he opposed the verification of his mother’s 2010 Will in its solemn form.

In his case, David alleged that his mother had progressive dementia in the years leading up to the execution of her Will. The trial judge found against David, that the Will was, in fact, valid and it was so proven.

One piece of evidence the trial judge referred to in his decision was a Statement of Wishes left by Mrs. Bull, which was to be opened and read by David only if he contested the Will. It explained the reasons behind the unequal testamentary bequests, highlighting a laundry list of poor behaviour by David from the past.

While the circumstances of this case, in which a testator favours one child over the other(s), is not unusual, it serves as a reminder of testamentary freedom. Professional witnesses testified to Mrs. Bull’s sharp mind and clear expression of her wishes. While testators must be of sound mind and, at times, must adhere to moral obligations upon death, they also have the freedom to dispose of their estate how they please.

Although David is said to be appealing the case, the decision of Justice Gary Weatherill stands in the meantime.

Also of note is the realization that one’s inheritance may not be as expected. The Maclean’s article further noted that a large number of Baby Boomers expect some sort of inheritance and that many overestimate how much they will inherit. In a time when Baby Boomers are carrying debt, this may be an unwelcome surprise.

Thank you for reading,

Suzana Popovic-Montag