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Without a 'Titanic Clause' a person's estate planning could sink

No person can predict the future, but that does not mean one shouldn't make plans for the inevitable. At some point, everyone passes away, and it is important to prepare for the distribution of one's assets when the time comes. Being prepared for multiple contingencies can help to ensure that all of a person's estate planning wasn't for nothing. 

For most men and women, the obvious thing to do with their assets is to leave them to their spouse and children. However, what would become of those assets should the principal beneficiaries and the testator all perish at the same time? In Ontario, if both spouses die together, neither party is deemed to have outlived the other and all the assets pass to the remaining heirs. It is not difficult to imagine the confusion and frustration that might ensue.

To properly address such a tragic event, a will should have a simultaneous death, or common disaster clause. Such a clause is colloquially known as a 'Titanic Clause' in recognition of the deaths of both Isador Straus, the Macy's department store magnate, and his wife Ida, who refused to leave him when the ship went down. By including a backup plan in a will, the transition of both estates is far more likely to run smoothly.

Even for a relatively modest estate, it is important to have a comprehensive will. Anything that simplifies the administration of an estate is a welcome gift to grieving loved ones during a difficult time. For the best results, it may be wise to consult with an Ontario lawyer for all one's estate planning needs.

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