December 10th, 2020
You’re out of the will: Grown-ups and empty threats

Every family has a story about great-aunt Mildred (although the family member may go by another name,  such as grandpa Jayden or cousin Marie) who threatens to leave family members out of their wills for the slightest infractions: “That’s it! If you adopt one more cat I’m leaving everything to your brother!”

Emma Beddington has an excellent article about the will-making process, Writing a will is a milestone of adulthood, and now I can threaten to cut people out of mine, in which she argues that threatening to cut people out of the will is the “ultimate adult achievement.” It’s a good read and a great laugh:

The basics are grim, boring and involve tax, like all the worst adult stuff. But then – sorry, “thereinafter” – the fun starts. What coffin would I like (I agonised about the aesthetics for my mum’s; there’s no way I’m leaving this to my sons)? Can I appoint my best friend “literary executor” to delete 15 years of our uncensored online chat? Who gets my stuffed magpie and what about the tortoises, who will certainly outlive us? Even better, I can now become someone who issues veiled threats about changing her will when displeased with family members: that is surely the ultimate adult achievement unlocked.

Unfortunately, that threat is a little weaker in British Columbia. We have the Wills, Estate and Succession Act which addresses wills and intestate estates. Unlike many jurisdictions which allow your will to reflect what you actually want, WESA gives you rules. A lot of rules. And some of those rules dictate who would be inheriting what part of your estate. A law was never written without a loophole, so there are ways to cut people out, but it needs to be done carefully and for the right reasons. If this is something that you are considering, you will need legal advice to ensure that your will is not tossed out.

If you do not want to cut anyone out of your will but want to have the option to occasionally issue the veiled threat to do so, then you certainly need a will.  You probably also need an arched eyebrow and a withering glance, but all we can provide is the will.