Creating a will is an essential part of estate planning, and not taking this basic step can prove extremely costly for the estate -- not only in terms of unnecessary loss of assets, but also in terms of heart-rending family conflict. Additionally, when a person dies intestate -- that is, without a will -- provincial laws determine who will be estate executor and how estate assets and debts will be distributed, and this manner of distribution is often not in the best interests of the family.
In addition to the grief of losing a loved one, problems with the deceased's will can add costly conflict to an already difficult time. In many cases, litigating the dispute drains the inheritance in question, and that has been the case for two sisters whose father died in Ontario.
In estate planning, the will is generally assumed to be the foundational document in which you are free to say how your assets should be distributed. And for the most part, that is true.
According to Statistics Canada, the average net worth of Canadian families has risen significantly in the last two decades. Between 1999 and 2012, average wealth increased by 73 per cent -- from $319,800 to $554,100. Much of this wealth is held by baby boomers, and it is estimated that, in the next four decades in North America, more than $30 trillion in assets will be passed from boomers to their heirs.
If you have an adult child with an incapacitating disability, then you undoubtedly want to plan your estate so that it provides for your child's needs when you are unable to do so yourself. There are numerous ways to do this, and it is important to choose the strategy that best meets your family's needs.
Creating a will is an essential part of any comprehensive estate plan, but too often disputes over estate assets -- along with the resulting heartache among family members -- are due to mistakes in the will or failure to update it when major life events occur.
Estate beneficiaries find themselves in disputes for a variety of reasons. The grief of losing a loved one, unresolved divorce-related issues, mental health issues, lack of mental capacity, and deep-seated family disagreements can all factor largely. In most cases, though, the main cause of conflict is inaccurate or inappropriate estate planning.
The practice of estate litigation often involves handling disputes over the emotionally fraught matter of disinheritance. In some cases, disinheritance is unintentional -- the result of an oversight or poor planning. In other cases, family members find themselves explicitly disinherited in the deceased's will.
Shortly before his death in 2013, Ontario native and billionaire Paul Desmarais gave his older brother Louis $5 million. This wasn't a gift, says the elder Desmarais in a recent lawsuit. The money was a partial payment related to an agreement the brothers struck back in 1979.
The recent nullification of an Ontario man's will could have wide-ranging implications in estate litigation in the province. A judge rejected the man's will on the grounds that it is racist and "offends not only human sensibilities but also public policy."