A little bit divorced


Many people think that separation or divorce automatically revokes a will or leaves their former spouse out of the inheritance rules. This is not the case. If you divorce, your former spouse will not inherit under an intestacy; your will remains valid, though, and with the exception that your former spouse is treated as if he or she died before you. Sometimes this will be acceptable; sometimes it will not. If you are separated, whether your former spouse will inherit under your will depends on whether you have a signed separation agreement and what it says. The area of more concern is if you do not have a will, because your former spouse may inherit as if you were still married. The case of Morgan (Estate) v. Morgan was released on June 14, 2010 in British Columbia (with thanks to the bloggers over at Hull & Hull for information on this case). In Morgan, the spouses were separated and were set to be divorced on July 31 when Mr. Morgan died on July 22. The Court of Appeal found that the parties were in fact still married, which would allow Ms. Morgan to claim a share of his estate as his surviving spouse, likely not his intended outcome. The simplest solution? Have your will redrafted on separation to ensure that your estate will go to your intended beneficiaries.