Homes can be difficult assets to divide. When there are multiple beneficiaries to an estate, and the family home is left to more than one person, there aren’t a whole lot of options available. Either an agreement can be made to allow one of the beneficiaries to live in the house, or the house can be jointly owned by all of the beneficiaries and perhaps rented out, or one of the parties or a third party can purchase the home. It can be difficult to decide which of these avenues to pursue. More difficult still is what to do when an impasse is reached. Such was the situation in a decision recently issued by the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta.
Disabled daughter had lived in home
The deceased had three children. When she died at the age of 98 she left her estate to her three children (Janice, John, and Murray). However, her estate was divided into six even shares, with four of those shares being given to Janice.
Janice suffered from a number of disabilities, including severe environmental allergies, Dercum’s disease, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue. She was living in the house when the deceased passed away, even though the deceased had stopped living there. A line of credit against the home had been taken out by the deceased in order to allow Janice to live in the home. By the time she had died, the line of credit was described as “significant.”
The issue between Janice and her siblings arose after the death of their mother when John and Murray wanted to sell the house, while Janice wanted to stay in it.
What were the intentions of the deceased?
The court noted that it was clear the deceased knew Janice would have a hard time on her own, and the deceased made a number of sacrifices to help care for her daughter. At the time of the trial, she had been living on about $1,800 per month, with none of that going towards the house, which had been paid for by the estate.
However, the court noted that the will did not actually provide Janice with any legal right to stay in the house. While she received a two-thirds share, those shares did not guarantee that she would be able to live in it.
The court also noted that Janice did not provide any medical evidence related to her physical conditions outside of medical notes dating back over twenty years. She also failed to provide financial information to the court. As a result, the court was not able to determine if she needs to stay in the home.
Instead, the court relied on financial information which showed that if the house was sold, Janice’s share would be about $350,000. A fund from that lump sum would provide Janice with a monthly income of $1,670. This, coupled with her existing income, would be enough for Janice to get by if the home was sold.
As a result of these findings, the court ordered that the home could be sold.
If you are considering filing an application to challenge a will, contact the estate lawyers at Derfel Estates Law before you proceed. We can help you determine whether you are eligible to bring such a claim, can help you understand your options and rights, and can represent you throughout the challenge process. Call us at 416-847-3580 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.