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Practical Advice On Wills And Estates Planning For Blended Families

Practical Advice on Wills and Estates Planning for Blended Families

Many Canadian families do not follow the traditional family structure and are often formed by two people who have children from previous relationships. The 2011 census provides that these “blended families” now comprise 12.6% of Canada’s 3.7 million families.

The question is: how should estate matters be handled differently for blended families? Standard wills typically distribute all assets to the surviving spouse on the death of other, and on the death of the remaining spouse, to the couple’s shared children. But in the case of a blended family, this distribution may exclude the children of the spouse that dies first. Below are two ways to resolve wills and estates conflicts for blended families: 

  • Stating the children’s inheritance outright on the will
    One solution is benefit the children and spouse under the will, rather than solely the spouse, with any assets being held in trust for any minor children until their age of majority.
  • Preparing a mutual will
    Alternatively, mutual wills are written with the consent of both parties and cannot be changed unless there is mutual agreement. This means that when one spouse dies, the other cannot revise the will to deprive the other’s children of their inheritance.

Planning Estates pro-actively

People with blended families should pro-actively plan the distribution of their estate. It is important to consult an estate planning lawyer to ensure that your will accurately reflects your wishes.

Disputing an Unfair Estate

Sometimes as a result of failing to pro-actively plan for the specific needs of blended families, children or step-children may be treated unfairly and may be deprived of their fair share of the estate of their parent.  When a child or step-child is excluded from the estate, they should discuss their situation with an lawyer who is familiar with BC Estate Law and can take action to ask the court to change the will in order to treat all rightful beneficiaries fairly.  Lawyers at League and Williams offer free consultations on estate disputes and may be contacted at 250-888-0002 or by email at info@leaguelaw.com.

Source: Stepfamilies make up 12.6% of Canadian families, CBC News

Source: Blended Families, BC Local News

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