Your Estate Planning Obligations: Key #5

Jack worked hard to earn his money as the owner of a small printing business.  He had a common estate planning misconception. Jack said, “I can do whatever I want with my money!”

Do you think Jack is right?

You may not realize that people can challenge what you do in your will.

In some jurisdictions, judges can basically rewrite your will. This can happen, for example, if Jack fails to honour his legal and even moral obligations.

Normally, such obligations extend to his:

  • married partner
  • dependents
  • children or
  • common-law spouse

Marg was Jack’s common-law wife for 12 years before he died. She was financially dependent on him. After Jack passed away, she had to raise their children.

“Jack promised me I would never have to worry about money,” she said.

Don’t forget your legal and formal obligations when you write your will.

Marg was not provided for in Jack’s will. She had to sue Jack’s children from his first marriage to get support.

Can you guess who paid for all the lawyers?

Provide for Your Beneficiaries and Dependents

Ignoring your legal obligations will waste your money on court cases, lawyers, and delays. It can lead to Executor’s Disease,™ where your executor gets caught in an estate lawsuit. Read more about this in my free eBook Executor’s Disease™ .

You need professional advice to avoid conflict, grief, and trips to the courthouse. Click to tweet this.

In some cases, an inheritance must be held in trust to protect minors or those who are vulnerable. Your executor keeps assets safe for their benefit.

Successful estate planning also includes taking care of yourself.

Next I’ll unravel the secrets to powers of attorney.

See my related blog posts:

Successful Estate Planning Key #1

Estate Planning Key #2 Major Tax Traps

How to Prepare a Proper Will Quickly: Key #3

About Ed

Edward Olkovich (BA, LLB, TEP, C.S.) is a nationally recognized author and estate expert. He is a Toronto estate lawyer and Certified Specialist in Estates and Trusts. Edward has practiced law since 1978 and is the author of seven books. Visit his website,, for more free valuable information.

© Edward Olkovich 2012