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What happens if a beneficiary dies during estate administration?

When a person passes away, his or her assets are distributed amongst beneficiaries, often based on a will. Unexpected occurrences, such as the death of an heir, can make estate administration more complicated than it may seem on the surface. Here is how to approach the administration of an Ontario estate if a beneficiary dies prior to distribution.

Fortunately for executors, many lawyers do plan for this scenario when they help someone draft a will. The first step when this unexpectedly happens is therefore to check the document for a suvivorship clause. A suvivorship clause requires beneficiaries to live a certain amount of time after a testator passes. These clauses are typically about 60 or 90 days. The clause will then lay out who should get the assets should someone not survive this length of time.

Other wills may not have a particular amount of time laid out, but may simply state who should get funds should a person not survive to distribution. If these clauses are not present in a will, the assets legally will likely go to the descendants of the deceased beneficiary, and become part of his or her estate. Unsurprisingly, these scenarios can sometimes cause tension in the estate administration process.

A clearly structured will, paired with competent estate administration, can help to make the death of a beneficiary straightforward to manage. However, they can also be tricky to navigate is there is a dispute over the assets following this death. An Ontario estate administration lawyer is a good person to have on hand during these instances. While this is not a particularly common issue, it does happen more than some may think and it helps to be prepared for the potentiality. 

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