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Wills in Ontario and the conditions in them

Writing a will is not as easy as scribbling down a few words and paper and rifling it into a drawer somewhere. Wills and estates law is complex and Ontario residents writing a will cannot just insert conditions on a whim and expect them to be legally binding. A testator (the maker of the will) must be abundantly clear what is given to whom and under what circumstances when leaving gifts in his or her will.

The wording of a will is extremely important. Wills should be written concisely and using clear terms. Ambiguity must be avoided.  There have been instances when courts have disallowed the last wishes of a testator because the will was ambiguous.

Certain gifts or conditions may not be allowed because they are contrary to the public policy. For instance, a gift cannot be contingent upon someone committing a crime, be discriminatory against ethnic or religious groups, ask someone to give up parental rights or ask someone to separate from a spouse.

Wills often impose conditions that someone is to get a gift when he or she reaches a certain age. However, if the condition is incorrectly drafted, it could create many problems including uncertainty how the funds held for the minor beneficiary are to be invested and what payments can be made in the interim for the benefit of the beneficiary, before the beneficiary receives the funds. Incorrectly written will may cause hardship to the beneficiary and difficulties for the trustee administering the funds.

Ontario residents wishing to avoid troublesome drafting issues in their wills can speak to a lawyer about having a will drafted using the correct wording and conditions yet still in keeping with their wishes. A lawyer experienced in wills and estates law will ensure his or her clients' wills are written using conditions allowable by law. A lawyer will help a client draft a will that adheres to the testator's standards.

Source: findlaw.ca, "What conditions can I put in my will?", Accessed on Oct. 20, 2017

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