Creating a will is an essential part of any comprehensive estate plan, but too often disputes over estate assets — along with the resulting heartache among family members — are due to mistakes in the will or failure to update it when major life events occur.
For example, in Ontario, your will may eventually be rendered invalid if you got married after the will was written. Likewise, if you were to get divorced after writing your will, then parts of it may become invalid — particularly any section that leaves property to your former spouse.
Also, if you have a dependent — someone you support financially — then that person may have a valid claim for your property, even if your will does not instruct for the property to go to that person. Disputes over property distribution tend to arise when the will instructs to leave property to someone other than the surviving spouse or dependent, yet the surviving spouse and dependent have a legal right to the property in question.
All of these problems can be avoided by periodically reviewing and updating the will, especially when there has been a marriage, divorce, birth or death in the family.
At Hagel Lawfirm, we help families resolve estate disputes, often through litigation, and we have seen firsthand the way ambiguous wills and inadequate planning can lead to costly and heartbreaking conflict.
We also draft wills to ensure that they clearly express our clients’ wishes and are as simple as possible to administer. We provide a detailed estate questionnaire, and we offer advice and guidance with regard to communicating with family members about estate-related issues.
To learn more, please see our overview of estate planning, trusts and wills.