When we are preparing our Estate plan (what we want done with our assets when we pass on), so many questions may come to mind:

 

 

If a Will is not properly prepared and all circumstances are not properly considered, all sorts of unintended consequences can arise. 

 

Jointly held assets, tax consequences, unequal division of assets, previous loans – all of these issues can result in your estate not being distributed how you intended it.  The way the estate is distributed may not be adequate for a spouse or child’s needs, or they may be excluded altogether based on the effect of the unintended consequence.

 

In such a circumstance, your beneficiaries will have to ask the Court to review the situation and vary the terms of the Will to provide them with a remedy.  This is time consuming and expensive – a trial can take years to get to and the cost of litigation may take up a great portion of the estate that you meant to flow to your beneficiaries. 

 

Not all unhappy beneficiaries can go to the Court to ask to vary the Will in their favour – only natural or adopted children and spouses may do so.  Spouses includes same-sex spouses and common law spouses of 2 years or more.

 

There are strict timelines to take legal steps to vary the terms of a Will.  If you are the child or spouse of the Deceased and the terms of the Will are such that the estate is not being distributed in a manner that is adequate or fair, get legal advice.  It is so important to do so right away and protect your legal rights that you may exercise as beneficiary.   

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