January 23, 2017

Bleak House? Think Again: No Unlimited Right To Raise Wills Or Estate Challenges

Bleak House? Think again. The Ontario Court of Appeal has confirmed, as is the law in Alberta, that an interested person doesn’t have an automatic right to force Formal Proof of a Will.  Such claims are commonly filed, often by raising mental capacity or undue influence allegations.

There is a strong “buffer” or defence against such claims, at the early stage.  There is a useful evidentiary test that applies to screen out frivolous attacks, which can be raised when the claim is filed, to attempt to stop the longer, protracted, and costly legal proceedings that may otherwise follow.

The clear policy at play in this principle is that the courts and Personal Representatives (Executors), and beneficiaries wish to prevent unnecessary litigation and erosion of the estate’s value through such claims.  The case report, found here:, is a great read for other legal aspects too. For this particular aspect (screening out unfounded claims), see paragraphs 80 forward in the decision.

If you are a beneficiary, Personal Representative (Executor), Trustee, or otherwise connected to an estate that is involved in litigation, please contact our Estate, Will, and Trust Litigation and Dispute Resolution group.