How to prevent an inheritance

Don’t like your daughter-in-law? Don’t let her see a dime

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From the November 2015 issue of the magazine.

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windfall inheritance

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Q: I plan on leaving my son a $250,000 inheritance, but how do I make sure that his wife isn’t legally entitled to any of it?

— His (not hers), Whitby, Ont.

A: If the idea of your daughter-in-law getting her hands on your money after you’ve kicked the bucket really rankles you, there’s a simple solution: put a clause in your will stipulating that the inheritance is strictly for the benefit of your child, alone, and not the spouse. This keeps the assets out of the marital pool, explains Lawrence Pascoe, an Ottawa-based family and estate lawyer. “The key is to keep the inherited money separate,” he says. So, if your son uses his inheritance to buy a house or pay down a mortgage, keep in mind that in the eyes of the court the willedincome automatically becomes a jointly-held asset between him and his wife—that is, unless your progeny signs a contract stipulating that the money is not to be included in their joint assets. But, of course, that’s up to him.

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5 comments on “How to prevent an inheritance

  1. How to prevent an inheritance: Don’t like your daughter-in-law? Don’t let her see a dime

    Although this article is good advice, I have to say that I found it a little offensive. I’ve read this advice many times from different sources and each time it referred to the ”daughter-in-law” without any mention of ”son-in-law”. I’m sure that this is meant to be cute or funny but it’s not. I wasnt’t a daughter-in-law back in the OLDEN DAYS when men were the only bread winners and women (apparently) maried for money so maybe at that time the dauther-law-was a threat to a mans fortune. However, it is 2015 folks and women are paying their own way and often making more than their spouse. How about we rewrite this little article and replace ”daughter-in-law” with ”daughter or son in law” and make it appealing to a larger audience. Just a little frustrated with messaging that continues to portrays women as gold diggers. This is not funny or appropriate and I honestly don’t think it ever was. Thank you for all of the good advice and articles in your magazine…please keep it clean and factual and free of judgement and outdated unkind stereotypes.


    • Sorry Anne-Marie but men continually get the short end of the stick in family court. Men today need to do everything possible to protect themselves (and their assets) from women who can at a moments notice decide they are unhappy in the marriage and take half of everything whether they contributed to it or not. Do some research and you will find over 66% if divorces in Canada are now initiated by the woman. The reason why you keep seeing this advice and from multiple sources all referencing “daughter-in-law” is because it is accurate.


    • Whoa! Someone has a sore spot it seems. Based on my experience in dealing with wealthy clients, especially those with family businesses, I have seen first hand how marriage can send a productive situation to the dogs. The thing is that in all the situations it involved the marriage of a son or sons to women who changed the family dynamic and ruined the family peace.

      Frankly I am getting extremely tired of all the cries of sexism these days coming from women. Men take hateful remarks from what I call femi-nazis all the time and just brush it aside as a fact of life in the 21st century where hating men is a sport it seems.

      Suck it up Buttercup.



  2. While I get what you’re saying, it was an answer to the specific question, and in this particular case daughter-in-law was applicable. Don’t take it so personally.


  3. I was under the impression that an inheritance was an inheritance to the son only? That the wife had no legal claim to it.


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