Partial intestacy allows woman’s abuser to inherit from her estate

Drafting a will is just the first step towards a successful estate plan. 

In order for your wishes to actually be carried out after your passing, you need to check in every now and then to make sure that your original instructions still make sense.  

Typically, I recommend that clients revisit their estate plan every couple of years, but a will doesn’t necessarily have to be old to become outdated. If your chosen estate trustee leaves the country or a key beneficiary dies, then you will need to make changes, whether that’s days or decades after the will was originally executed. 

For those whose wills are in need of an update, a tragic Saskatchewan case should serve as a cautionary tale.  

According to a court ruling, the deceased’s decades-old will provided for specific gifts to two of her three siblings, with the remainder of the estate earmarked for her parents.  

The woman had long been estranged from her third sibling, a brother who was convicted of indecently assaulting her in the mid-1990s.  

However, by the time of the woman’s death in 2022, both parents were dead, meaning that the bulk of her estate would pass on intestacy.  

Saskatchewan’s estates laws, much like Ontario’s, set strict rules for the distribution of assets when a person dies intestate. In this case, it meant that the woman’s nearest relatives – the three siblings – would share equally in the residue of her estate. 

Although the court heard that the deceased had no idea that her abusive brother would be able to inherit from her estate, a judge declined to exclude him from his share of the proceeds, concluding that speculation was not allowed on what the deceased’s intentions would have been had she ever returned to update her will following the deaths of her parents.  

If you can’t commit yourself to annual reviews, then big life events or major relationship changes should prompt an update to your will – think the birth of a child, marriage, divorce, or a major change in net worth. 

Although Ontarians’ wills are no longer automatically revoked on marriage, wedding bells are still a good trigger to consider changes, especially if it’s a second or third union or if you have children from a previous relationship. 

On the flip side of the marriage coin, a review of key estate plan documents – including your will and beneficiary designations for things like life insurance or pension plans – is a must following a separation or divorce.

Disclaimer: The content on this website is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice or an opinion of any kind. Users of this website are advised to seek specific legal advice by contacting members of Laredo Law (or their own legal counsel) regarding any specific legal issues.