Can you cut your child out of your will because of discriminatory reasons?

The deceased father cut off contact with his daughter and never met his grandson.
The deceased father cut off contact with his daughter and never met his grandson. (Photo: iStock)

Does a parent, dissatisfied with a child’s choice in partner, have a right to cut the child out of the will even if the dislike is based on discriminatory reasons?

Yes, they do.

The Ontario Court of Appeal recently reversed a ruling by a lower court that found that a father could not cut out his daughter from his will because he objected to his grandson’s mixed black and white heritage.

The deceased father was of Jamaican origin and it was alleged that he and his daughter had a pretty good relationship until she became pregnant by a Caucasian man. After that he cut off contact and never met her son.

It was alleged by the daughter and a witness that the father left her out of the will because he didn’t like the fact that his grandson was half Caucasian.

The appeal court in this case said that the right to leave one’s things to whomever we want is an important principle in law. Though it has to be balanced with the public good, free will to leave one’s property to the person they choose is the right of the maker of the will. Nobody is entitled to receive anything in a will unless perhaps they are a dependent relative.

In this case, the court looked at the clause that disinherited the daughter and found it not to be discriminatory. The appeals court went as far as to say even if the clause had been discriminatory, the father still has the right to leave his property to whomever he wants.

This case contrasts with another about a deceased man who excluded his sister from his will, because he left his belongings to the National Alliance, which is a notorious neo-Nazi group. In that case, the judge found it went against the public good because money was left to “finance hate crimes”, which went against the Criminal Code of Canada.

In this case, the father didn’t leave his belongings to a racist group but rather his other daughter. Letting a hate group inherit one’s belongings may be against the law but cutting one daughter out of the will in favour of another daughter is not, as the inheritance was not made for illegal purposes nor is it against the public good.

The appeal court said the lower court was wrong in not honouring the father’s will and allowed the appeal.

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