May 3, 2006
Spring is here. As we do at home, we at Weilers get the urge to do a bit of spring cleaning. Many of our clients who have had wills prepared by our office have recently received letters reminding them to review their estate planning documents.
It is a very good idea to dust them off once in awhile and take the time to review what you have.
First things first – is your will even valid? Some of life’s events can change or even revoke a will. The biggest of these is marriage. In Ontario, marriage revokes an existing Will. (without getting into the legalese, there is an exception, but for the sake of keeping it brief, we won’t get into that here). Divorce does not revoke a will outright, although it will prevent your former spouse from taking the gifts in a will made prior to the divorce. A marital separation doesn’t do anything to modify your will, but we find most of our clients want to change their wills when that occurs.
Any Will made before 1986 is worthy of a good, hard look. That is the year the Family Law Act came into force. Since this legislation was passed, we regularly include in all the wills we prepare a clause which protects your heirs in the event of a marriage failure. Although all inheritances are excluded as shared property, an increase in value of the inheritance is only protected if the will specifically states that to be the case.
Clear as mud? Here’s an example. Mom dies, leaving her married son $20,000.00 in her will. The son invests the money in an RRSP in his name. Son and his wife separate 10 years later. The RRSP is now worth $50,000. Which amount does the son deduct from the property he has to share with his wife? $20,000? $50,000? If Mom’s will was made before 1986, the answer to that question is $20,000. A codicil, costing less than $100, may be all that is needed to change that answer to $50,000.
Over the years, wills we prepare for clients have gone through changes. We now routinely include standard executor’s powers to reflect changes in the law, and in society, so your executor and family are not put through the burden of time and money to get directions from the court, can more readily save your estate taxes, and deal with your assets.
We understand the value of a will to our clients because we are just like you. We all want the peace of mind that comes from knowing our affairs are organized, and our families will be provided for when we are gone.
A will prepared at Weilers is one of the least expensive and efficient ways to get your house in order. And spring is as good a time as any.