Estate law in Alberta can be contentious and complicated. The stakes can be high, and in some cases, a will can lead to bitter disputes. When the testator chooses to impose conditions on gifts or bequests, he or she might risk the will, or specific conditions of the will, being declared invalid.
Valid conditions on a will must be legal, clear, detailed and possible. Any condition that creates uncertainty when it comes to names, boundaries, percentages, specific amounts or time periods may be disallowed. If a gift or bequest depends on the completion of a task by the beneficiary, and the court finds the task to be impossible, it might override that condition.
The testator may not bequeath a gift conditioned upon committing a crime, or a condition that could be regarded as discriminatory against an ethnic group or a specific religion. Furthermore, a will could be deemed invalid if the testator requires the beneficiary to divorce or separate from a spouse, or to give up child custody. Nor may the condition involve any illegal activities.
The most sensible way to avoid contention, disputes or invalidation of a will might be to enlist the skills of an experienced Alberta estate planning lawyer. Legal counsel can explain the requirements of a valid will, and with his or her guidance, conditions can be included in a way that will not risk their nullification. The lawyer can also explain the importance of discussing the will with the designated executor and the beneficiaries to ensure all of the client’s wishes are specific and understood.