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Changing your Will When Going Through A Separation

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A will is an important document that allows you to state your wishes to your loved ones and to have those wishes followed. Yet many Albertans do not have a will, or they have an improperly formed one that may be deemed invalid by the courts.\nKnow more:

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Presentation Transcript
Ideally an estate plan is reviewed every few years, or when a major life event occurs. Such a

life event may be the birth of a child, a marriage, or loss of a spouse either through separation

or death. A list of the major items that should be reviewed in your estate plan when going

through any of the major life events is discussed below.


When you have children, who will care for them if you are unable can be the most difficult

decision to make. As is often the case, people will name the other parent as the primary

guardian but the alternate guardian can require a bit more care in decision making. In

addition, sometimes the other parent is not the ideal choice, particularly in the case of

blended families. Identifying your choices for guardianship and codifying them in your Will

is an extremely part of your estate plan as it is one of the few ways of ensuing your wishes

are known. Further, not providing a guardian can result in the Public Guardian getting


If you have a blended family, you will want to ensure any half-siblings or step-parents and

grandparents can have access to the children, if they so desire.

Child Support

The law in Alberta is fairly clear that a person’s estate is obligated to provide for his or her

children while they are dependants. A child can be a dependant for his or her entire life if

they have a disability, or until the age of twenty-two if they are attending school. In certain

situations grandchildren and great grandchildren may claim support. This obligations

continue past death and your will should contemplate this event if you are currently paying

child support.

Spousal Support

Unlike child support, spousal support obligations are not binding on an estate unless the

Separation Agreement or a Pre-Nuptial Agreement provides for it. However, if you lose

capacity you may still be liable for spousal support payments.

Jointly Held Property

Property that is held as joint tenants will automatically transfer to the other name on title

upon the death of own owner. In the event of marital breakdown, it is important to determine

if you will switch to tenants in common (whereby each party owns a specific percentage and

can therefore bequeath that percentage) or if one name will be removed.

Beneficiary designations

When a major life event occurs, it is important to review the beneficiary designations you

have on your investments such as RRSPs, RRIFs, LIRAs or even life insurance. You may

want to add your children or remove a former partner from the designation as these assets

will fall outside of your estate and will therefore not be included in any matrimonial property

or support obligations.

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