Judge Awards Additional $5.5M to Daughter

On December 31, 2010, Justice Sandra Ballance of the Supreme Court of British Columbia ordered one of the largest awards under the Wills Variation Act.

The mother's last will and testament was made 18 years before her death. The mother's estate was valued at around $20 million, with most of the value in shares of a privately held family company.

Upon an application under the Wills Variation Act, the court found that the will did not adequately provide for the daughter and varied the will to give the daughter an additional $5.5 million. The remainder of the estate went to the husband.

The court found that the mother's will fell below the moral obligation of a contemporary judicious parent in all of the objectively assessed circumstances. The court considered the following factors: the mother's wealth and her lavish standard of living; the value of the assets passing to the husband outside of the estate and his independent wealth; what the mother knew about her daughter's financial circumstances; the significant financial setback from the demise of the daughter's business; that the daughter wouldn't inherit from her father under his will; the mother's promise to pay for her grandchildren's education; the daughter's bona fide expectations that she would be securely provided for by her mother; the devotion and love showed by the daughter to her mother and the value of the testamentary gifts to the daughter.

The plaintiffs, Kelly Wilson and Blair Wilson, were represented by Alexander Holburn Beaudin & Lang LLP with a team consisting of Andrew MacKay and Emily Clough.

The defendant, William Lougheed, was represented by Rodney Massel and Bruce McLeod.