Married for over 20 years — the second marriage for each of them — my clients are a gracious and kind couple. Both are retired; she was a registered nurse and he served as an officer in the Canadian Army. They each have adult children from first marriages. She has one son and he has two. They both have daughters-in-law and grandchildren., and the three generations are close and supportive of one another.
They asked me to review their existing Wills and help with some subtle updates, mostly changing their estate trustees (executors) and powers of attorney to family members better suited to the roles.
Both intended to leave their entire estate first to the other, and then in equal shares to the three sons. This had been their intention since marrying all those years ago, and it is what they thought was reflected in their existing Wills. The problem was, this is not what their existing Wills would have done.
Their existing Wills left everything to the other spouse and then to their own children. Had their Wills not been revised, one spouse’s children would have been left out. For example, if he had died first everything would have gone to her and then, upon her death, exclusively to her only son — his two sons would have been left out. They were surprised to learn this. This had never been their intention, ever.
In this close and supportive family it is likely the second generation would have honoured their parents’ well-known intentions. The boys likely would have split everything three ways to include whoever had been inadvertently left out, but it’s always best to get the details right in the first place.
My clients’ new Wills leave no doubt. Their intentions are precisely recorded and their assets will be gifted exactly as they always intended. Now, their combined estate will ultimately be divided amongst all three sons. The couple also included terms to ensure their daughters-in-law and grandchildren will be supported too.
*This family’s story is shared with their consent but left anonymous. The accompanying photograph is not the couple in this story. I thank them for placing their trust in me and Scharf Estate Law.