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Wills in Ontario: Can conditions be included?

Those who are all set to put pen to paper to jot down what they would like to include in their wills should know that there are some restrictions when it comes to including conditions in the document. Wills are very personal and unique, but the law in Ontario says certain stipulations won't cut it. One example is when people say their child will inherit this or that as long as he or she does what the parent wants the child to do or not to do, like get married or not get married, for example.

There are other conditions that could cause complications in wills. Not being clear enough can be one of them; being vague with names, time constrictions or amounts could possibly nullify a will. A testator (someone who writes a will) can't ask someone to do something that is impossible or illegal as a condition before receiving something.

It is also not legal for a testator to leave something to someone and expect him or her to keep it forever -- like a piece of land or a house. If a testator leaves something to someone or to a group that could be considered reprehensible, then it might be voided such as in the instance when a Canadian citizen bequeathed $250,000 to a Neo-Nazi group in the United States. Leaving someone something when they reach a certain age is allowed, but could still be contested by the beneficiary.

It might be wise to seek legal counsel in Ontario before including any conditions in wills. The law is not always black and white when it comes to estate planning. A lawyer might be able to offer sound advice prior to and during the writing of a client's will so stipulations that aren't legal aren't included in the document.

Source: Findlaw.ca, "What conditions can I put in my will?", accessed on Feb. 26, 2018

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