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Keep wills up to date to reflect family changes

Any man or woman who plans for the future of his or her family after they are gone clearly cares about the people in their life. Wills, in particular, are a great way to ensure the distribution of estates and the enrichment of descendants. However, failing to keep one's will up to date could have unintended and regrettable consequences for a person's loved ones.

An Ontario woman passed away recently at the age of 94. In her will, she left all of her belongings and assets to her husband. However, since he predeceased her, the estate passed to her two sons, as specified in the will. Having lived to a ripe old age, she also outlived one of her two sons. Her will also covered that possibility, stipulating the deceased son's share go to his children.

Her late son had two children, both boys. The eldest son, now 28 years old, was born outside of a marriage. When the will was written in 1977, so-called illegitimate children did not have legal status as "children," or "issue" in a will, unless specifically named. The grandson took the issue to court, and while the judge was sympathetic, he ruled against his claim, choosing to uphold the legislature current with the writing of the will.

A lot can change in a family over the course of four decades, or even after just a few years. Major changes to a family, such as a marriage, divorce or birth of a child, probably merit a revision of one's estate planning. For assistance with wills and other planning in Ontario, it may be best to turn to an experienced lawyer.

Source: CTV News, "Man born out of wedlock can't inherit from grandmother, Ontario court rules", Paola Loriggio, May 5, 2017

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