Many people assume wills are a “once and done” type of project. That’s not the case. The reality is that wills need to be regularly reviewed and updated if you’ve had a major change in your life. Here are a handful of occasions where another look at your will is a necessity.
A New Addition to the Family: A newborn needs lots of attention, especially in the early years. But you also need to prepare for the worst. What if you are unable to care for your child due to an accident or serious injury? Designating a guardian is crucial so that someone is prepared to take physical custody of your children and their assets. You should also ensure that the newest addition to your family gets his or her fair share of your inheritance, particularly if other children are already named in the original will.
Common-law marriage: Living common law has become much more frequent in recent years as some couples question the utility (and high cost) of marriage. However, in many Canadian jurisdictions, common law spouses don’t have the same right as married ones. It may be unfair, but it’s important to know the rules in your province and to structure your will and estate plan in a way that best reflects your intentions with respect to your partner.
Divorce: Of course, a separation or divorce will require an update to your will. It’s likely your spouse is named as the beneficiary in most of your investments, such RRSPs, TFSAs and pensions. You’ll want to change that so that your former spouse doesn’t receive any of your money, unless they are legally entitled to some of those funds.
Second marriage: If you opt to get married again later in life when grown-up kids are in the picture, you’ll want to take another look at your will. Does your new spouse deserve a share of your estate? It can be a complicated question. At the least, try to ensure that your child’s inheritance is received directly from you, without any involvement from the new spouse. Not that they can’t be trusted, but you want to make the transition as simple as possible. It’s important to ensure that children from a previous relationship aren’t disinherited when you have a new spouse.
Caring for the disabled: Special needs children will always require detailed attention in any will. It’s possible you’ll need to support them for the rest of their lives, so make sure that fact is spelled out in your will. Think about the child’s long-term needs and act accordingly. In such cases, you might need a lawyer who specializes in such cases to cover all the bases.
In any event, it’s always a good idea to have your financial advisor and your lawyer involved in the process of drawing up your will. Each brings a different skill set to the table. Their expertise will help ease what can often be a difficult process.
Executive Financial Consultant
Investors Group Financial Services Inc.
Rettinger & Associates Private Wealth Management
This is a general source of information only. It is not intended to provide personalized tax, legal or investment advice, and is not intended as a solicitation to purchase securities. Dwayne Rettinger is solely responsible for its content. For more information on this topic or any other financial matter, please contact an Investors Group Consultant.