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    Doling out estates can be tricky with blended families

    In a typical will and estates scenario, after a person passes away, his or her assets pass along to a spouse and/or any children. Such is an ideal situation, but that is not always how things work out, especially given the prevalence of blended families in Ontario.

    According to figures from Statistics Canada, as of 2012, more than 12 percent of the 3.7 million families with children in this country are blended with stepparents and stepchildren. Blended families, especially high-net-worth ones, often have especially sensitive estate planning needs. There may be an extensive and complex estate to divide and each person wants to feel he or she has been treated fairly.

    Some estate planning professionals caution that “fair” is not the same as “equal” and that it is important to be fair, even if that means an unequal distribution.

    For example, a non-biological child who entered the family through a second marriage later in the testator’s life may not expect an equal share of an estate, as might the testator’s natural children. The key, say the professionals, is to have a difficult, but important conversation with beneficiaries and stakeholders far in advance and let them know in general terms what to expect. Hopefully, knowing what to expect will reduce any possible disappointments and prevent a contested will.

    Estate planning may be a delicate subject for some families, but it is an essential one. Doing the work in advance can show its worth when the time comes for the distribution of an estate. With the help of a lawyer who has experience with wills and estates in Ontario, some peace of mind can be gained in knowing that one’s family will be looked after when the estate holder is gone.

    The content on this website is for information purposes only and is not legal advice, which cannot be given without knowing the facts of a specific situation. You should never disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking legal advice because of something you have read on this website. The use of the website does not establish a solicitor and client relationship. If you would like to discuss your specific legal needs with us, please contact our office at 613-563-7544 and one of our lawyers will be happy to assist you.

    Posted By: Timothy J. Grieve of Merovitz Potechin LLP


    When it comes to sophisticated estate and succession planning, Tim Grieve is noted for his attention to detail, his ability to analyze complex situations, and his knack for explaining legal scenarios to his clients in everyday language. Tim thoroughly understands the needs of high net worth clients, entrepreneurs and professionals. His practice includes wills, trusts and estates, business and corporate law, franchising, commercial real estate and not-for-profit corporations.

    Tim is one of the founding members of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners Ottawa branch and is the chair of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (Canada).