Updating Your Will For Your Growing FamilyAug 24 2017
As your family grows or changes, it’s a good idea to make sure your will is updated to reflect those changes. For example, if you remarry and have children from one or both marriages or if you have specific plans for various family members.
If You Don’t Have a Will
If you die without a will (intestate), it actually costs your estate more and takes longer to administer. This means you end up having less to pass on to your heirs. Even if you don’t have a lot of money or assets, you should still consider creating a will because the probate process will likely be faster and less stressful and you’ll be able to leave more of your estate to your children.
Updating Your Will
When is a good time to update your will? Anytime your life changes significantly, such as after a divorce, when you remarry, upon the birth or adoption of a child or the death of someone in your immediate family. Acquiring more assets – such as real estate or investments – are also good reasons for revising your will. In some cases, these life changes may not actually require a revision to your will, but you should always be aware that revisions may be needed and your lawyer can help determine that need.
To ensure your will is valid, you should enlist the help of a legal professional, especially if you want to provide for someone who is not a relative. Keep in mind that in addition to the laws governing probate in BC, the province also has will variation legislation which grants both spouses and children (biological or adopted) to seek an order from the court to vary your will if they feel that they have not been fairly provided for.
For example, if you leave your husband of a second marriage out of your will in favour of your children from your first marriage and he contributed to your estate, he may be entitled to a portion of that upon your death. Or if one of your adult children can prove you favored another sibling without justification, he or she may be entitled to a fairer portion of your estate.
New Family Members
If you have recently added a new member to the family (either through birth or adoption), currently have children under 18 or recently remarried and your new spouse has children, not only should you update your will, you should also consider creating a trust deed, separate and apart from a will.
In case something happens to you or your partner, a trust – governed by a trustee – will manage your estate on behalf of your children and ensure they are cared for. Furthermore, even without minor children, a trust will enable your spouse or other family member to take over your estate should you become injured or disabled.
If you have a child from a previous relationship and want to make sure that they are provided for, your will needs to minimize the chances of a family member undermining your wishes. By moving your assets over to a trust, this can not only minimize variations to your estate plan but can also increase the control that you have over your estate even if you become disabled or pass away.
If you do not have a will or you haven’t updated your will in several years, and especially if your family circumstances have changed, you should consider contacting a will and estate lawyer. He or she will help you develop plans that will not only protect your family but will also ensure that your estate matters will be handled in an efficient and timely manner.