Most people don’t realize that as a legal document a Will needs to be updated regularly to reflect your current life situation for it to serve the purpose for which it was intended. Unfortunately, many people sign a Will, put it in a safe deposit box or a drawer in their home, and then completely forget about it.
If the circumstances in your life have changed over the years and these changes are not reflected in your Will then your Will could become a recipe for a family disaster. It could result in a family fight or even lead to court proceedings that delay the distribution of your estate.
There are many circumstances which make it vital for you to take steps to update your Will. These include:
In Ontario, if you make your Will before you get married, your marriage will invalidate your Will unless your Will was made in contemplation of that marriage.
The Wills of most married couples in a first marriage usually provide that each of the spouses name the other as beneficiary. If you are separated, you should be aware that your Will is not revoked by your separation. This means that if your separated spouse is named in your Will, he or she will still inherit if you pass away. If you are separated, it is highly advisable to make a new Will unless you want your separated spouse to inherit.
It is important to periodically review the appointment of the executors in your Will. If you appointed your brother as executor twenty years ago, the appointment certainly could have made sense at that time. However, the appointment may be sadly out of date today if your brother is elderly, distant from your children, either by way of geographical distance, or, emotionally, by way of a cool relationship with them. By keeping your brother as executor in these circumstances, you may be frustrating your mature and loyal children, all of whom are quite ready, willing and able to take on the task themselves.
Major Assets Have Changed
If in your Will you gave your son your house on Simcoe St. but you have moved to John St. and no longer own the Simcoe St. property, you must revise your Will to reflect this change if you want your son to get your John St. property.
Protecting Your Child’s Inheritance in Case He/She Gets Separated or Divorced
If you live in Ontario and want to protect the growth on your children’s inheritance in case they get separated or divorced after your death you will need a special clause in your Will. It is often called the FAMILY LAW ACT clause (FLA clause). It is not good enough for your Will to just say, ‘I leave everything to my son’. Your Will must also include the FLA clause to protect the growth on the assets you leave to him in case he inherits your money and later gets separated or divorced.
Free Will Review
If you wish to make sure that your Will is up-to-date and not a recipe for a family fight, my law firm Fish & Associates offers free Will reviews to Ontario residents. To make a free Will review appointment call our offices (905) 881-1500 or toll-free 1-877-439-3999. You can also visit www.willappointment.com. We are located at 7951 Yonge St. – Yonge north of Steeles and below highway 407. Plenty of free parking.
Until next time.
Wills and estates lawyer
Les Kotzer is the co-author of three books that deal with Wills and estate issues – ‘The Family Fight’, ‘The Family War’, and ‘Where There’s An Inheritance…’. To order the books online visit – www.familyfight.com/order.htm.