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A battle between two women over a deceased man’s pension, which originated in Quebec, made it all the way to the Federal Court.  In this case, a man (the deceased), believing he was divorced, married another woman.  As it turns out, the divorce was not filed properly.  Consequently, it was found that the first marriage was never terminated, resulting in the second marriage being invalid.  In the end, the pension was apportioned between the women based on the length of time they lived with the deceased. This legal dispute, deemed by the National Post as “peculiar”, reminds us of another dual spouse pension dispute that was heard by the Ontario Court of Appeal at the end of 2012 – Carrigan v Carrigan Estate.  The Supreme Court of Canada subsequently dismissed the application for leave to appeal from this decision. As was explained by Kristen Woods in her earlier blog post “Who gets the Pension Benefit?“, the Court of Appeal’s decision in Carrigan v Carrigan Estate indicates that in situations where a deceased leaves both a wife and a common law spouse, the common law spouse is out of luck unless he or she is named as the beneficiary.   Overall, these decisions not only remind us of the complexity that can surround the distribution of a deceased’s pension, but also the importance of considering the role one’s family situation has in estate planning.

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