In Saskatchewan, a person may make a dependent relief claim under The Dependents`Relief Act. This type of claim asks the Court to make an order for support from an estate.
A dependent is a person to whom the deceased was giving support or had a legal obligation to provide support immediately before his or her death. Dependent relief claims may be brought in Saskatchewan where the claimant is:
- The wife, husband or common law spouse of the deceased;
- The spouse of the deceased where the relationship is of some permanence and the spouse and deceased have children;
- A minor child of the deceased;
- An adult child of the deceased where the adult child is unable to earn a living due to mental or physical disability; and
- An adult child of the deceased where the adult child ought to have received a larger part of the estate by reason of need or other circumstances.
The last category of dependent is often the most difficult for determining whether relief should be granted. Where a parent has provided long term financial assistance and the adult child is dependent upon this assistance, such a claim may be successful. Simply being unable to earn a living or not being as successful as your siblings likely will not entitle you to relief.
If you are an executor and you receive notice of a dependent relief claim, you may not distribute the estate until the claim is dealt with. You as executor may want to hire a lawyer to defend against the claim. Beneficiaries of an estate may also hire lawyers to defend against the claim.
If a dependent relief claim is successful, the Court may order that adequate provision be made for the dependent regardless of the gifts left in the Will or the law governing estates where there is no Will. Such an order usually results in larger portion of the estate going to the dependent. How much is awarded to a dependent will depend on the size of the estate and the particular circumstances of each case.
It is important to note that a dependent relief claim does not challenge the validity of a Will. Rather, it requests relief for a dependent whose inheritance is inadequate for his or her support.
Dependent relief claims are complicated, costly, and can take a considerable amount of time. If you are considering bringing such a claim or are defending against such a claim, it is best to consult with a lawyer.