Inheritance issues could lead to estate litigation

According to a census conducted by Stats Canada, one in eight families is considered "blended", which is to say one or both spouses have children from previous relationships that they have brought into their new marriage. British Columbia residents living in such an arrangement may wish to consider the specifics of how their estate will be disseminated between their new spouse, their biological children and/or step children. It is important to consider their estate plan in advance in order to avoid possible estate litigation farther along the line. 

In many cases, the immediate move is to leave everything to a new spouse in a will. This may come with the unspoken intention for inheritance to be passed down to the children when the spouse dies. However, unless specific considerations are made in estate planning documentation, it is entirely possible for the spouse to maintain control over the estate and disseminate it the way they wish, with no consideration for the estate holder's children. 

The complications only become more persistent if the spouse remarries after the estate holder's death. While the spouse and children certainly have specific rights to the estate, if a new spouse spends the intended inheritance before it can be passed on, there is no getting it back. This can lead to considerable infighting amongst family members. 

Of course, most British Columbia residents would not wish such a battle on their families. Estate litigation can be costly and emotionally damaging to surviving family. This is why it is so important to seek the support of an experienced estate attorney in planning for late life and the dissemination of inheritance. 

Source: chroniclejournal.com, "Don't unintentionally disinherit your loved ones", Murray Becotte, March 20, 2017

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