Garton & Harris

Estate administration and estate planning for common law couples

Some couples may have lived together for years, yet choose to remain unmarried. Things are different today than they were decades ago and it has become socially acceptable for couples to live in common law unions. But some things still aren't so easy for such couples and one of them involves estate planning so that estate administration in British Columbia can be as seamless as possible when the time comes.

Firstly, nearly half of all adult Canadians don't have a will. That can be an additional issue for common law couples who may manage their finances separately. Common law partners might want to look out for some mistakes to avoid when writing their estate plans.

Some couples who live together may own property as tenants in common rather than as joint tenants. This could pose a problem in the long run since when one partner dies, his or her share of the home could pass on to an heir rather than to the remaining partner. Having a clause in a will that states a surviving partner can stay in the home after the death of the other is crucial and could avoid an awkward situation. Other pitfalls of estate planning in these instances could include leaving too much or too little to a surviving partner or leaving the wrong assets to a partner.

Estate planning and estate administration under any circumstances doesn't need to be overly complicated or confusing, especially with the assistance of an experienced British Columbia lawyer. A lawyer will have an understanding of how the laws can affect couples who aren't married, but who have been living together. Getting the guidance of a lawyer may ensure all the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed in the estate plans of cohabiting individuals.   

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