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How death-bed will writing can lead to estate litigation

Putting off planning for one's final days is not uncommon. Many people procrastinate on making the difficult financial and familial decisions that come with writing a will. This leaves many Ontario planners scrambling to throw estate plans together when they are given a terminal diagnosis or if their health takes an abrupt turn for the worse. The lack of oversight in many of these quickly administered wills can lead to confusion, family conflict and estate litigation.

For example, one individual with many assets and a feuding wife and children had a sudden health turn. While in hospice, he asked a lawyer to help him draft and update his will and trust documents. After he suddenly passed, his wife was displeased with the decisions and, knowing his cognitive function was diminishing when he signed the documents, opened a case against the estate.

In another case, an individual was named a trustee for a family trust without being vetted with regards to her capacity to manage that responsibility. This happened because the planner, who was also sick in hospice, simply did not have enough time to search for an alternative. Picking the wrong trustee or executor can be a disaster for an estate, and death-bed planning can make it harder to really consider who is being selected.

There are many other challenges with drafting estate plans this late. There is limited time to discuss wishes with family, and it may be hard to list and account for all assets while sitting in a hospital or hospice bed. Additionally, there is no guarantee that any time will actually be available between someone finding out he or she is dying and that person passing on, so planning ahead is a great idea. Those who are considering or involved in estate litigation due to an issue with a will written at the last minute should contact an Ontario lawyer.

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