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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