Estate planning isn’t one of those things that pops to mind when you’re picking out flowers, hiring a photographer and deciding on a menu. But if you’re getting married, you had better add “make new will” to your to-do list.
When you tie the knot, your previous will is automatically revoked unless it was specifically made in contemplation of your new marriage. Time to make a new will. While you’re at it, there are a bunch of other things you need to review including your powers of attorney, both financial and personal care, and your beneficiary designations.
You know all those designation forms you signed on your RRSP, your TFSA, your insurance and your work policies? You’ll have to decide if you still want your money to go where you initially directed it or if you’re going to name new beneficiaries in light of the fact that you’ve got a new mate.
If this is a second marriage for either you or your partner, children will create wrinkles so get yourself some expert advice. Don’t assume a standard will is the best option unless you don’t much care whether you disinherit your kids. If you leave the whole kit and caboodle to your new bestie and she decides to spend it all, leave it to her kids, or remarry and pass the money on to the next bestie in line, your children would be left out in the cold.
If you die still in love with your partner, no doubt you’ll want to ensure he has access to the funds during his lifetime. But you may want the capital to go to your kids. You can use a trust to accomplish this. Or you could split the estate between your surviving spouse and the kids. Keep in mind that with option two, a surviving spouse may have legal right to specific portions of your estate. Hey, that’s where the expert help comes in. Alternatively, you could leave your estate to your partner and buy sufficient life insurance to ensure your kids receive the amount you intended them to get.
Any property you hold jointly with the right of survivorship will pass directly to your partner. You can choose to hold property as “tenants in common” in which case your partner would be entitled to his share, but you could pass your share on to the kids.
If you haven’t updated (or executed) powers of attorney for financial and personal care, it’s time. The last thing you want is your partner’s hands tied behind his back because you didn’t bother to give him permission to step in on your behalf. Marriage doesn’t automatically give your mate the right to speak on your behalf; you have to do that through your powers of attorney.
If you think there may be a fight—sad how often we fight over dead people’s money, isn’t it?—once you shuffle off this mortal coil, then you better have your estate plan nailed down tight. And if you haven’t yet discussed just what you expect with your new hubster or wifey should you become incapable of making your own decisions, set a date for a talk and then make an appointment with an estate’s specialist to execute your plan.