Family Law with Carrie Campbell; Do you have a Will? If not make an appointment immediately

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Carrie Campbell

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? In this case you should, as I have a recommendation for you! As we near the end of 2019 and consider our plans for 2020, I urge you all to review your Will with your lawyer, if you have a Will, and to immediately make an appointment with a lawyer, if you do not.

Wills and Estates are complicated and people’s assumptions are often incorrect. Let’s explore some examples. Are you aware that if you have gotten married since you signed your Will, your Will is likely void? There is a clause a lawyer will include, IF he/she knew of your plans to marry, to ensure your Will remains valid after the marriage. If, however, the lawyer was not aware, or you did not have the plan to marry at the time you signed your Will, your Will is void.

If you are married and do NOT have a Will, do you believe your spouse will inherit your estate? This is not necessarily the case. The Succession Law Reform Act is the legislation we look to. The Act provides that your spouse will inherit a “preferential share”, which at this time is $200,000. If the deceased person had children when he/she died, then the value of the estate that is over $200,000 will be shared among the children and the spouse. This can be shocking to the surviving spouse. For example, if all the assets are in the deceased’s name, as is sometimes the case, the surviving spouse may need to sell the home to pay adult children their share.

Do you know that if you are not married and do NOT have a Will, your common-law spouse is NOT entitled to anything from your estate, according to the Succession Law Reform Act? People mistakenly believe they must be protected, especially if they have resided together for many years. This is also true for step-children. If you do have a Will and you want your step-children included, ensure it is clear, as they are not deemed to be your “children” or your “issue." And what about your minor children? Surely you want to choose a guardian for them in the event of your death. It can be tough to think about death, but please remember, having a Will is one of the most loving things you can do for those you leave behind. If you do not, you may be setting your loved ones up for undue stress, financial distress and litigation, simply to try to gain what you wanted them to have all along.

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