Angela Casey was recently quoted in the Globe and Mail article, “What to know if you plan to cut your kids out of your will”.

“Angela Casey, an estate litigator who is a partner at Casey and Moss, a boutique law firm in Toronto specializing in estate and power-of-attorney disputes, points out that the Ontario Court of Appeal has confirmed there is no obligation to leave anything to an independent child over 18.

“But if you have a child who is financially dependent on you, you have an obligation to provide for that child in your will, or in some other way,” she says.

For example, if you’ve been providing free housing to your children, they can argue they’re dependent and apply for relief under the province’s Succession Law Reform Act. Ms. Casey has seen this happen even in wealthy families where kids argue they “had always been on the ‘family payroll’ and they successfully brought a dependent support claim for millions of dollars.”

The most common ground of attack when an independent child is left out of a will is to challenge it as invalid. Ms. Casey says this can be because the parent was subject to undue influence, for example, manipulated by one of the other children, or because the parent didn’t have the mental capacity to understand the terms of the will, which can especially be argued as people age and their cognitive abilities decline.

The best way to protect against such attacks is to document your reasons, Ms. Casey says. This should be done by a lawyer with a good reputation who knows you fear that the will might be challenged.

“Spend the time and money before your death to safeguard your wishes,” she says.”

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