Marriage is one of the most significant events in a person’s lifetime. For many, there is tremendous significance to becoming married. It can transform relationships and provide new spouses with a different status in their community. There are a number of legal implications to becoming married, particularly with respect to property and family law considerations.
Marriage Has a Significant Impact on Existing Estate Plans
However, many people don’t take the time to consider the fact that getting married brings changes from an estate planning perspective as well. Most notably for those who already have a Will, unless properly planned, a subsequent marriage will revoke that Will. This can undo any existing estate plans already in place and should be carefully considered when a couple is anticipating marriage.
There is a rationale behind the concept that marriage will revoke an existing Will. The law presumes that when people become married, they intend to benefit their spouse in the event of their death. If you have a Will, get married, and die without making a new Will, your spouse is entitled to special consideration under Ontario’s intestate succession regime (a.k.a. inheritance without a Will). However, it seems the law also assumes that people with a Will who plan to marry and don’t want to die intestate will take appropriate steps to address the automatic revocation.
One solution is to draft a Will in anticipation of marriage. All this means is that the preamble to a Will identifies that the testator (the person whose Will it is) is planning to marry a specific person on a specific date and that they intend the Will remain valid after the marriage. This gives certainty to the testator’s intention and avoids the intestacy that would otherwise result.
Be Proactive About Your Estate Planning Needs
If you are considering getting married and already have a Will, it is well worth reviewing your plan to ensure that it won’t inadvertently be undone by virtue of your wedding. If you’re considering getting married and don’t already have a Will, speak to a lawyer about the estate planning considerations that will arise with marriage. It’s always best to be informed about life’s big steps!
At Mills & Mills LLP, our estate lawyers can assist you in building an estate plan to best suit your circumstances and to protect the interests of beneficiaries with special needs. To learn more about how we may be able to assist you please reach out to us online or by telephone at (416) 863-0125.