My mother and her husband had a joint will which left a 50/50 split between the husband's son and myself. However, my mother passed away first and all assets were left to the surviving spouse. The will stated that upon his death, the estate would be divided equally between the surviving son and daughter of the said couple. My mother's husband has recently died and today I found out that he changed the will, unbeknownst to me, and left everything to his son. My stepfather did not tell me that he was doing this and I was not aware of any animosity between us. As my mother came into this marriage with property and assets which should have come to me, I wish to know what rights I have and how I go about contesting the will and what kind of an outcome I could expect. I would also like to know how much it would cost to contest a will as I don't have a lot of money to spend on court costs, etc.
Province/Territory relating to question: Ontario
When you talk about a joint Will that usually means that the two testators essentially entered into an agreement that was signed by both that stated that once the first died the second could not change his/her Will.
Is that what you mean?
I believe that is the case however I don't know if such an agreement was signed by each of them at that time.
I need more information before I am satisfied - does the lawyer that drew up the initial joint and the second revised will have to tell me if an agreement was signed because he has been denying me any answers as far as the estate goes. I reiterate, what rights do I have? How do I go about contesting and what do I have to do?
You have no rights if there was no such agreement.
You will need to retain a lawyer who can write that lawyer demand to know if there was such an agreement and threaten a lawsuit if the information is not provided.
A Court will order that your step-father provide a copy of that agreement if there is one.
If there was such an agreement then your step-father's Will will be set aside and the older Will that was prepared in accordance with the agreement between your mother and step-father will prevail.
You can contact the Law Society and use their Lawyer Referral Service. You will be given the name of a lawyer and can consult with the lawyer and the first half hour will be free. The number is: 1-800-268-8326 or XXX-XXX-XXXX (within the GTA)