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Wills not updated may have unintended consequences

In this age of modern conveniences, the concept of "set it and forget it" is familiar to most. People expect to be able to prepare something once, and then let it be. While this may work with PVRs, the same cannot be said for wills. Making a will is a very good idea for any man or woman in British Columbia, but as life changes, so too should a person's will. Failing to do so could lead to unexpected results.

An Ontario man who believed he had been unintentionally left out of his grandmother's will went to court to fight for a share of the estate. The woman passed away at the age of 94, leaving all of her assets to her husband. Her husband predeceased her, however. The will stipulated that if her husband died first, the estate was to be split between their two sons. Unfortunately, one of her sons had also passed away before her.

Her late son had two sons of his own, to whom his portion of the inheritance was to go, according to the terms of the will. The oldest of the two boys was born out of wedlock 28 years ago. The will, however, dates to 1977, and at that time, illegitimate children were not recognized as legal descendants. Despite the fact his grandparents created an RESP for the young man, a judge ruled he had no entitlement to a portion of the estate because of the statutes at the time of writing.

Although the man evidently had a relationship with his grandparents, he received nothing from their estate. No one will ever know if this is what they intended, but it seems unlikely. Families change with time, and by not changing one's estate planning to reflect those changes, some heirs could end up left unintentionally excluded from a share of the inheritance. Any men or women wishing to create or update their wills in British Columbia may wish to do so with the assistance of a lawyer.

Source: cnews.canoe.com, "Born out wedlock, man can't inherit from grandma because will is from 1977: Ontario court", Paola Loriggio, May 6, 2017

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