What happens to your will when you remarry

New marriages kibosh prior wills, unless a clause states otherwise

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From the November 2014 issue of the magazine.

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(iStock)

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Q: If I remarry, how can I be sure my estate with go to my own children?—Fearful fiancé, Montreal

A: Few people realize that a new marriage automatically kiboshes any prior will, unless the will specifically includes a clause stating that it was made “in contemplation of a future marriage.” Without this clause (or a new or amended will), a spouse is always entitled to a preferential share of your estate, says Toronto estate lawyer Howard Black. But even if your will specifies what happens if you re-marry, your new spouse could still appeal on the basis she is dependent on you. A domestic contract setting out the terms of your relationship and signed by both parties is one way to avoid this. Another is to transfer assets to your kids’ names or into trusts for them. Just don’t take any extreme measures, warns Black. “It sounds better to say, ‘I’d like to preserve assets for my children when I’m gone,’ as opposed to saying,‘I want to keep assets from a spouse.’”

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3 comments on “What happens to your will when you remarry

  1. In both Alberta and BC, the act of marriage does not alter an existing will. With estate planning items, where the differences are substantial between provinces, those differences should be highlighted. Otherwise, this magazine should be titled “MoneySense Ontario.” Thank you.

    Reply

  2. So even if the previous Wills are null and void, would the process flow smoothly? ie) My new husband (second marriage for both of us) says why spend the money on new Wills, if our estates will automatically go to each other? My previous Will has a close friend as beneficiary, his previous Will, completed after his divorce, has his children as beneficiaries. I tend to think the process would not be straight forward, and that we do indeed need new Wills, Can you clarify this process from a legal standpoint?

    Reply

  3. Are you obligated to leave your children anything in your will , if you live alone?

    Reply

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