Garton & Harris

Estate administration: Keeping the wealth in the family

People work hard for their money. Having a family's wealth protected from unforeseen events like divorce will likely ensure that when the time comes for estate administration in British Columbia, there won't be issues connected with a divorce. The last thing prosperous Canadians want is for the money they've worked so hard for to end up going to those who they wouldn't want it to go to and that sometimes means to a divorced adult child's former spouse or common law partner.

The issue is apparently causing many affluent Canadians grief. A recent survey showed these folks don't trust their heirs' partners when it comes to managing an inheritance. Although it may mean an uncomfortable discussion, wealthy parents of adult children should make their feelings known if such is the case. There is one saving grace in that in most provinces any gifts or inheritances received during a marriage are not included in the net family property if they are not part of overall family assets such as a matrimonial home or joint bank accounts.

Any gifts or inheritance funds should be kept in a separate account from a spouse or common law partner and in the name of the heir alone. Also, a cash gift could be given by way of a loan which also protects it from creditors. In any case, a marriage contract in these cases, might be a wise idea.

A British Columbia lawyer experienced in estate planning and estate administration can draw up documents using the right language to protect an heir's assets. A lawyer will also be able to offer advice on prenuptial and postnuptial agreements as well as cohabitation agreements that may be able to protect a client's inheritance. These documents tie in closely with estate planning.

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