Elsie Johansen left her entire estate ($116,000) to the Calgary Humane Society, disinheriting her 51-year-old son Kim Soule. Soule was unemployed, lived from hand to mouth and suffered from hepatitis C, probably contracted from drug use or unprotected sex. Mrs Johansen’s lawyer testified that she had deliberately cut her son out of her will because she did not want to fund his drinking and drug use (although Soule testified that he had cut back on the booze and had not used drugs in 3 years).

Martin J granted Soule’s application under the Dependants Relief Act, which allows a court to exercise its discretion to override the wishes of the deceased where inadequate provision has been made for a dependant, based on the perspective of that dependant. Soule was a dependant on the basis of his disability and (on balance) inability to earn a livelihood; provision in the will for his needs was inadequate; and if the will was not varied, he would have to be supported by the public purse.

Soule got all but $10,000 of the estate, which went to the Humane Society. Soule v Johansen Estate, 2011 ABQB 403 [Link available here].