Remarried? Then you don’t have a will any more

just-marriedSo many people are surprised to hear that marriage automatically revokes a will. For a first marriage, this is not such a big deal; when I got married, I would have wanted my husband to inherit from me if I hadn’t updated my will at that time anyway.

The problem arises when this is your second or later marriage, especially if you have children from a prior marriage. Because the rules on intestacy in Ontario are that your spouse gets the first $200,000 of your estate and then shares the rest with your children, you could throw your entire estate into chaos by signing a marriage licence.

Picture this: you are in your seventies, and recently widowed. You are comfortable financially, and meet someone who is equally comfortable financially. You both want your children from your prior marriages to inherit your respective estates, and both have wills that state that. But then you decide to get married. Now, your new spouse is your primary beneficiary, purely by accident, and no matter what your children do, they will not get the majority of your estate.

The only solution to this, unless the law in Ontario is changed, is to get a will done before you marry in contemplation of marriage, or immediately after you marry. It’s critical. Don’t procrastinate on this.

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