Though a testator is generally accorded the right as to whom his or her property will be bequeathed, that right is not absolute. In Ontario, the Family Law Act recognizes that an individual has financial responsibilities to family members—including minor children, spouses, and parents. Regarding minor children, the Criminal Code stipulates that parents must provide their children with the necessaries of life. Further, in accordance with the statues of the Succession Law Reform Act, the estate of the deceased may be obligated to pay support, which has not been declared in the will, to spouses, parents, and children.
For dependants who have been disinherited, a number of factors bear consideration in determining the outcome of a claim for relief. The dependant’s age, physical and mental health, needs, and the proximity and duration of his or her relationship with the deceased are significant elements to be weighed in considering relief. In addition, the existence of any agreement that may have existed between the dependant and the deceased, as well as the existence of other claims are pertinent factors. When the dependant is a spouse (including common law relationships), the length of time cohabitating with the deceased, and a history of behaviour that is so egregious as to repudiate the relationship constitute relevant considerations.