A will is an important document to have at any time. A properly drafted and executed Will provide peace of mind to you and ensure that your chosen personal representative will have clear instructions on how to administer your estate.
And while it may feel overwhelming to think about making a Will during a separation, it is a crucial time to consider making a new Will. Most people going through a divorce choose to hire one of our top divorce lawyers in Calgary when making a new Will.
Divorce impacts your current will
It is common for married couples to have made a Will together at some point in their marriage and to have left everything to each other. They would also most likely appoint each other as an executor, trustee or guardian. However, if there is no will, the legislation determines who gets the estate.
If one dies without a Will, the Wills and Succession Act in Alberta operates to give the entire estate to the surviving spouse. In the case of there being children from a previous relationship, the default would be one-half to the surviving spouse and the other half divided among those children. This may not be the desired outcome for someone going through a divorce.
The legislation can save someone who has a will and is already divorced, however. The Wills and Succession Act treats an ex-spouse named in a will as if they have already died – if the divorce is final (the Divorce Judgment granted). The time period to be mindful of is then before the divorce is granted.
Some clients go through long periods of separation that can span years. Some divorces take longer than anticipated to become final. Other clients choose to separate but never divorce. That period of separation “limbo” is a critical time to consider making a new Will.
What goes into a Will?
The following things should be included or at least contemplated when making a Will:
- A personal representative (executor) is chosen;
- A guardian for minor children is chosen;
- A trustee is chosen for the minor children’s trust;
- The age(s) at which the children would receive their inheritance (for example, age 18, 21, 30, etc.);
- Beneficiaries are specified;
- Specific gifts are detailed.
Furthermore, a will allows you to make wishes clear such as where your remains would go, funeral arrangements, etc.
Do I need a lawyer to make a Will?
A divorce lawyer is not needed to make a valid Will. However, having a lawyer prepare your Will can help ensure that it was properly done. There are many potential nuances in a Will and a lawyer can help guide you through all that needs to be considered.
If you would like assistance creating a Will, our lawyer Ainsley E. Vieira is happy to assist you. Connect with us to set up an appointment today.