Rights & Money

Can I Leave my Son Out of my Will?

Olev Edur answers your questions about your rights, personal finance, and estate planning


Question: I am a 70-year-old widow with an estranged son. Do I have to leave him anything in my will? I really don’t want to leave him my hard-earned money. Can I leave everything to a dear friend instead?

Answer: Yes, in your home province of Quebec, you can leave your son out of your will. “There is no requirement to leave a family member anything in a will,” says Richard Goldman, a lawyer at Educaloi.gc.ca.

“A person is free to choose whom they leave their property to. “This highlights the importance of having a will. If a person dies without a will, the law determines who inherits. For example, if the widow in question were to pass away without a will, under Quebec law, her child (or children) would inherit her entire estate.”

Nevertheless, your will could be attacked by your son, and the courts look favourably on the rights of dependent children if they feel the estrangement is unreasonable and deprives a dependant of his or her rightful entitlement.

To be safe, you might want to include one or more paragraphs in the will explaining your decision. Include details about the cause and ongoing nature
of the estrangement (you haven’t spoken in years, are living far apart, etc.), stressing the fact that (I presume) this child is no longer dependent upon you in any way.

Since the wording is critical when it comes to such legal matters, though, I would strongly urge you to engage the services of an estate lawyer in your province to ensure that it is legally watertight and that your will has the maximum chance of withstanding scrutiny.

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