Garton & Harris

When you pass away without a will in place

When you are living life, going along with whatever the world brings to you, you don't want to think about such heavy matter as putting a will in place. You know you need to do it but not now. There is a flip side to this thinking. What if the unthinkable happened and you suddenly weren't here anymore? How are your heirs supposed to know what you intended if you don't have a legal document in place to tell them what needs to be paid off and who gets what? As an example, if you are flying to San Jose but you don't explain to the person at the airline counter that you mean Costa Rica not California, you could end up in the wrong place due to insufficient information.

One issue that comes up repeatedly when someone dies without a will in place is what to do about the child who got everything that you had to give him or her while you were still alive and really doesn't get anything additional when you die? It is a touchy subject, but one that needs to be addressed.

Without it being in the will, the court may make the decision to divide your property and assets equally between all heirs. If you have a will in place but it needs to be updated, this can cause a rift in the relationship that your children have with each other. It can be costly to your estate and to them if they decide to fight for what you told them you wanted to see occur when you are no longer here.

It is hard to satisfy everyone. Being aware that you need an up-to-date will is important. Knowing a legal representative who can help you put one in place or change the one you have so it will stand up to legal scrutiny is equally as important.

Source: The Globe and Mail, "Disinheriting family can lead to big legal costs for your heirs," accessed Dec. 01, 2015

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