8th November 2011
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Understanding The New Alberta Wills Laws by Travis Bisset

Grant was an older gentleman whose health was failing him in his waning years. He knew that one day he would pass on and he wanted to leave all his affairs in order. However, he recently heard that the laws in his province of Alberta had changed, namely in regards to wills and estates. He had been widowed with children and grandchildren and had remarried several years ago.  He was worried about how these changes would affect him and his desire to leave his affairs in order.

            Recently, the Alberta Legislature has passed the Wills and Succession Act which contains new amendments and laws to estate planning and management. The laws are aimed at clarifying issues and improving the process. To give the public time to prepare, the laws will not go into effect until the first quarter of 2012. Some of these changes are mere slight fixes while others are more substantial changes.

The proposed changes to the law affect a number of areas of estates. These include changes such as the order in which wills are dealt with if more than one person dies at the same time, changes regarding gifts to an ex-spouse or partner, methods of family support through estates and much more. Given the potential issues introduced as a result of the changes, it is strongly recommended that individuals with pre-existing wills speak to one of our knowledgeable lawyers.

In the case of Grant described above, there are a number of pitfalls that his estate might fall into without legal advice prior to his passing.  For example, if Grant decides to leave half his estate to his new wife and half to his adult children, he may be surprised to know that if this is done incorrectly, his new wife will receive all of the estate and his children from the previous marriage will receive little or nothing.  This is because the new act recognizes that his new wife already has rights under the Matrimonial Property Act in addition to her rights under the will.   Also, if Grant is supporting his grandchildren and if any of them are living with him, there may be implications that he had not considered concerning their support.

If you would like additional information or professional estate assistance, please contact one of our knowledgeable lawyers to set up an appointment.

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Written by Travis Bissett