You Don't Need a Will. Let the Spouses Fight it Out!! Scenario 2

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In our prior scenario, John was a successful accountant in Calgary: 45 years-old, with a house, 2 kids, and a loving spouse of 15 years. He invested well, and held a diversified portfolio.

John died unexpectedly. 

In our last episode, John didn’t have a Will. This time, John forgot to update his Will. John hadn't got around to updating that Will, though he knew he needed to do it. 

John always thought he had more time. 

After John died – his family found his old Will, drafted years ago, just after graduation and his first marriage. Unfortunately, John’s first marriage was short lived, no children, no shared assets, no ongoing support. 

John’s old Will named his first wife as the executor. His Will also provided his first wife certain monetary gifts, etc. Obviously, John’s Will didn’t include his second wife or his children. 

Well done John – for all that hard work over the last 20 years, providing for your family, creating a respectable life, dying too young, now you get to have your ex-wife who you haven’t seen in 20 years administer your estate. Now, maybe she’ll do the right thing, and maybe she won’t. 

The worst way this turns out (depending on the province you live in) is that your wife is now likely applying to the court to remove your ex-wife as the executor, your wife is now claiming against your estate for maintenance and support, and your children’s rights may now be in the hands of the Office of the Public Trustee. In some cases, your wife will be pitted against her own children for a determination as to the percentage interest they’ll receive under your estate.

John worked hard for 20 years to build his estate for the betterment of himself and his family, though forgot one of the most important things: When I die, who gets what and when, and who do I trust to do it? That’s what a Will is.

To make matters worse, John had a wonderful extended family. Wonderful parents and supportive siblings. John always knew he would provide them with a small monetary token in his Will as appreciation for the sacrifice they made for him. Neither the Court nor the legislation is going to assist John’s extended family in adhering to what John’s wishes were regarding them. The Court will sympathize though does not have the authority to “create” those gifts to extended family, that were/are absent from the Will. 

John's outdated will did more than just complicate administration of his estate; it caused emotional distress to his loved ones, strained relationships, and potentially disrupted his children's financial future. His story underscores the critical importance of regularly updating one's will, especially when significant life changes occur. A will should not merely be a legal document; it should serve as an accurate reflection of one's intentions, ensuring one’s loved ones are cared for, even in your absence.

It'll take months before the administrator of John's estate (the term used for an executor when there's no Will) to become appointed by the Court, notify all the financial institutions, and start the process of paying John's debts first, and certainly before anyone receives their inheritance. 

Hardly the legacy we wish to leave behind.

Reading the above: 

So why pay a lawyer $1000-$1500 to assist with your Last Will and disposition of your estate? It's only the most important legal and financial decision that you'll ever make in your life, why waste your money on a Will?

Disclaimer: The title and this content is purely satirical, and meant to convey how important your Will truly is. A Will is not about contemplating mortality, but about ensuring the protection and care of your loved ones. It's about making sure that even in one's absence, your wishes are respected. You've spent decades accumulating wealth, growing your family, desirous of a legacy that your spouse and children can be proud of. Drafting a Will doesn't mean treating everyone equally. Drafting a Will means directing your Estate to where you see fit, or where it can be put to best use, or to preserve your estate for future generations. Update your Will and don’t be John.