Many think that conflict over an individual's estate primarily occurs if someone does not leave a plan behind. But, the truth is, even those who feel they have a fairly solid estate plan in place can lead their families down a road to litigation by missing some important points. To avoid such issues, Ontario estate planners should ensure their will not only exists, but that it is up-to-date, detailed, and legally sound.
Planning the future of one's wealth can become complicated when former spouses, remarriages and blended families are in the mix. When a long marriage ends, estate planning might be one of the last things on the minds of those involved. However, if these issues are not addressed head-on, older divorcees in Ontario could be putting themselves at risk for estate litigation.
When someone decides to change a detail of a will, it is often not enough to just declare the intention aloud. Rather, Ontario planners should always put changes in writing to avoid future conflict. When this is not done, and someone insists a promise was made that is not included in the legal documents, it can lead to estate litigation through an estoppel claim.
For many, the start of a new year is an opportunity to set goals and mark the direction for the year to come. Financial resolutions are commonplace for many Ontario adults, whether it's making a budget, earning more or safeguarding assets. When it comes to the latter, be sure to keep estate plans on your radar. Updating early and often can help prevent litigation in the future.
Most people know that it is a good idea to draft a legal will. Done correctly, documenting one's wishes for after he or she passes is an ongoing process that typically requires regular updates. Outdated estate plans that do not take into account new wealth, family relations, debt and other issues can lead to serious conflicts for Ontario families and executors. Annual review and updates at key points throughout life can help to prevent these issues.
When someone dies, particularly without a binding and well-communicated plan in place, it is not uncommon for disputes to arise regarding assets and succession. This is particularly true for business owners, who often own one more more complex nonliquid assets in their businesses. There are a few key decisions Ontario business owners can make in advance to ease this transition and avoid estate litigation.
For many parents, the most important part of their estate plan is who will have guardianship of children if they should pass away. However, there are other parts of estate planning that need to be considered by women and families entering childbirth. Who can make decisions on the mother's behalf if she is incapacitated during childbirth? What happens if complications occur during or after childbirth? These situations can be devastating to Ontario families, but advance planning can at the very least keep the matter out of the courtroom.
While it is common to leave an equal amount of assets to all children, many have very legitimate reason for favouring some children over others in a will. For example, one might have been a caretaker or have taken less from parents in their lifetime, or perhaps financial need is different. There is legal precedent for such wishes to be fulfilled under Ontario estate law. However, wills with unequal division of assets between children can also become fodder for estate litigation should one of the children call the will into question.
Deciding the fate of assets can be fairly straight-forward in some families. In others, especially blended families, deciding who gets what can be dicey business. An non-traditional or "modern" family structure does not have to be a recipe for estate litigation, but it can certainly raise questions and, in some cases, conflict. Here are some things for Ontario estate planners and executors to consider when distribution of assets is less clear-cut.
Most people know that having no estate plan can lead to conflict. But what if the will exists but cannot be located, or is located in a place impossible to access? Having an improperly stored will can end in estate litigation for Ontario families.