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Managing estate administration if stepparent is sole beneficiary

While some wills lay out specific amounts or percentages for different individuals, others have a sole beneficiary. Typically, this is a surviving spouse. But some children find this a challenging prospect, especially if the surviving spouse does not see fit to leave them in the will although the first parent would have done so. How do such cases play out in Ontario estate administration?

First, it is important for would-be beneficiaries to remember that, even if they do not like it, it is an individual's choice to leave all of their funds to a spouse. This is not an uncommon choice. However, if the person feels strongly that their children should get some of the inheritance once their spouse passes, putting this in writing is a must.

In the end, if a person leaves another individual all of his or her money and property, there is no legal way to stop that person from doing so. One way around this would be to make the spouse a tenant for life, so that the children inherit the family home when the spouse dies. Another option is using a trust to limit how the spouse can allocate the funds.

Children frequently can raise questions about inheritance during the estate administration process, especially if the spouse who receives property is a stepparent or if relationships are contentious. It can be helpful to speak with an Ontario lawyer about concerns and questions. Blended families, shared businesses, or high asset estates can add complications to these discussions, so legal advice and clear communication are advisable.

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