Second Marriages and Mutual Wills

My secretary came to me last week and was shocked by the story she had just been told on the phone. She said that an elderly gentleman had just called our office because he quite desperate for some legal advice

The man had lived common-law with his wife for 24 years. Three years ago his wife was diagnosed with dementia and last year for her own safety she had been placed in an extended care facility here in St Albert. The man stated that he was in charge under a Power of Attorney & Personal Care Directive for her wife’s finances and healthcare.

The couple also had a Will that had their estate being divided three ways between the surviving spouse and his two step children equally.

Last week this gentleman discovered that his wife’s children had taken her to have a new Will written that would leave all the estate to her children upon her death. You can imagine the stress, anger and hurt feelings that this action caused. This gentleman is now faced with having to incur thousands of dollars of legal expenses to challenge this new Will and defend the Will he had previously written with his wife. His question to me was  ”I can’t believe the kids did this.  What should we have done to avoid this?”

There is no easy solution to this situation but if this couple had created a Mutual Will they would have avoided much of this problem. What is a Mutual Will? A Mutual Will is an agreement entered into by parties to distribute their estate in a certain manner. When one party who makes the Mutual Will dies the Will becomes irrevocable.  If challenged, the courts will intervene to protect the interests of the people who would have benefited under the Will.

For many couples, especially couples in second marriages, a Mutual Will is the one way to prevent future changes to Wills being made after one testator dies. If you or think a Mutual Will may be right for your family contact us at 780 458 8228 to explore this option.

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Written by Stacy Maurier