“If a divorced parent remarries, are the rights of his or her children from the first marriage automatically protected in the event of his or her death? Will child support continue, and will they inherit their share of the deceased parent’s estate? Should we make a new will for this?”
Marriage and wills go together. You must make a new will whenever you marry, because the law declares that any existing will is automatically revoked. Here’s what happens when your will is cancelled:
- you lose your right to choose executors and trustees;
- you cannot create a trust to protect and manage inheritances for minors;
- you cannot name guardians for your children;
- no planning can be done to save taxes;
- friends, relatives, or charities cannot receive anything.
Children from a prior relationship could receive nothing from your estate unless you make a new will to protect them. In some provinces, when you die without a will, a large part of your estate goes to your new spouse. The spousal share varies in each province. In Ontario, if your estate is $200,000 or less, your spouse will automatically receive everything.
Here are the steps you should take:
- Get legal advice from an experienced estate practitioner;
- Give assets to your spouse for tax deferrals and savings;
- Update your beneficiaries on your RRSPs, life insurance, and pensions;
- Consider a marriage contract to protect your children’s inheritance.
Your loved ones count on you to protect them; making a new will, and taking the other steps outlined above, will help to secure their future.
Since 1978, Ed Olkovich has helped clients plan and contest estates through his Toronto firm. He is the author of three books on estates.