Creating or Revising Wills
A will allows you to specify how your assets will be distributed and how your estate will be managed when you pass on. Wills name executors and outline wishes regarding gifts, guardianships, and beneficiaries including children or family members. Without naming specifics in a will, if you, your spouse and your children should all die, your assets would be split among family members equally. By specifying ratios and names in a will, your actual wishes can be followed.
Family lawyers at Thomas and Associates are very experienced with wills, and have good understanding of their laws, rules and best practices.
Tips for Updating and Revising Wills
Wills are very important to have in place and revise regularly. The language used in a will must be unambiguous or the will may be left open to interpretation. It’s also important to know that a will is only one piece of estate planning. Power of attorney is a separate document, and you should also consult with lawyers regarding estate administration tax.
For example, if your will is not up to date, in the event of a remarriage, your will may be disregarded and all assets go to the new spouse and not the children or other family members you specified in the will.
Family dynamics are an important consideration when naming co-trustees or co-executers. Naming children who don’t get along to do these roles together could be a setting for conflict. Also consider the location of your executor. Sometimes people have named an executor that lives in a different country. It may be hard for this person to produce the time and travel money necessary to help settle the estate.
We recommend you revise your will or estate plan when you have children, get married, get separated, get divorced, or have serious changes in your business and assets.
Updating Wills During Separation and Divorce
If your will has not been updated during separation, and one person should happen to pass away, your assets would likely go to your ex-partner, if the ex-partner was originally listed as the beneficiary. Custody of your children could also go to your ex.
As well, you may want to update beneficiary designations for assets like RRSPs, insurance and investments. These designations don’t automatically change during separation and divorce, so appropriate steps must be taken to modify them to your wishes.
If partners have been separated for more than a year, then a surviving spouse most likely will have no legal entitlement to the estate.