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When Should I Renew My Will?

When Should I Renew My Will?

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Posted May 30, 2023

Lawyers are often asked “when should I renew my Will?”, or “how long does my Will last for?”. While the answer may seem simple, it is typically misunderstood by, or unknown to, the average person. A Will is a legal document, that allows you to set out wishes pertaining to your Estate and how it will be disposed of after you pass away. Your Estate comprises of everything you own, whether tangible or intangible.

Your vehicle? It’s a part of your Estate. Your bank account? Part of your Estate. Even your real property (i.e. that home you just purchased) makes up a part of your Estate. By creating a Will, you get to dictate who, or what organization, receives a part of, or the entirety of your Estate; and you can even set when they are to receive it.  If you don’t have a Will when you pass away, that means you’ve passed away intestate.

Passing away intestate means that legislation, instead of your wishes, dictates who gets your Estate. For example, if you’re married to Jimmy, and have three children when Jimmy suddenly passes away, the Government has rigid guidelines as to who receives the total of Jimmy’s Estate. In the scenario above, Jimmy’s spouse receives the first $350,000 of his Estate, and the rest of it is divided between his married spouse and his three children, equally. However, if you were only in a Common-Law relationship with Jimmy when he passed away without a Will, the scenario changes drastically, and significantly unfavourably so for you, Jimmy’s Common-Law spouse.

The simplest way to avoid this intestacy situation, is by creating a Will. But you’ve already figured that out by now, right? Your question is, when do I have to change my Will? Well, the short and simple answer is, if nothing significant changes in your life, and you are continuously satisfied with what your Will dictates, you never have to change your legally valid Will. Amending your Will, or creating a whole new one and revoking your previous one, is a choice.

It is advisable, however, to review your Will every 5-10 years, or after any significant life event occurs. Some life events that may trigger a change of disposition of your Estate includes, but is not limited to:

  • Having a child;
  • Purchasing a property, or a second property;
  • Marriage or divorce;
  • The discovery of a significant disability in a child or adult-child/sibling (such that they would not be independently financially responsible – examples of this could be low-functioning autism, or even drug/alcohol addiction);
  • The passing of a family member;
  • Winning the lottery/a major change in your salary or investment portfolio.

If you’d like to review your Will, or possibly amend it, it is always best to reach out to a qualified estate planning lawyer to help explain the legalities of doing so.

This blog post was written by Ariel Fried, a member of the Wills and Estates team.   He can be reached at 613-566-2067 or at ariel.fried@mannlawyers.com.

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Ariel Fried

Ariel Fried

My practice focuses on Wills and Estates, as well as Residential Real Estate. In my Wills and Estates practice, I assist clients in drafting wills and powers of attorneys, as well as estate planning and organization. In my Real Estate practice, I help clients close their purchase, sale or refinance of their residential property. I was raised in the Ottawa suburb of Nepean. After attending Carleton University and graduating with a degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice with a Minor in Spanish, I moved overseas to study in an accelerated law program in Leicester, England. In 2016, I returned to Canada, completed a Masters of Law degree at Osgoode Hall in Toronto, and was Called to the Bar of the Law Society of Ontario in 2019. Initially, I practiced as a criminal defense lawyer in Toronto. After moving back to Ottawa, I practiced in the fields of Wills and Estates,... Read More

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