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Sunday, August 22, 2010

When I inherit, how do I keep that money out of the hands of my spouse?


For the purposes of this discussion, let's assume that there was nothing in your parent's Will that either requires you to share your inheritance with your spouse, nor specifically prevents that from happening. In other words, this discussion is about YOUR actions and what effects they will have on money you inherit from your parents.


If you share your inheritance with your spouse, for example by using your inheritance to pay down a mortgage on a home that you and your spouse both own, then you cannot later decide to take it back. You've already turned your inheritance into joint property and given your spouse a gift of the money. Should you and your spouse later become divorced, the accounting and legal arguments involved in sorting out who owns what part of the home will become expensive and time-consuming.


Keeping a family inheritance separate sometimes becomes very important to individuals who are in second marriages. The individual's goal is often to ensure that the money inherited from his or her parents is passed on to his or her children. They feel that this is more in line with what the parents wanted, rather than have the money passed down through a son-in-law or daughter-in-law to step-grandchildren.


It is possible to keep the money separate. The person who inherits should open a separate account in his or her name only, and put the inheritance in there. Interest earned can accumulate in the account. Nothing else should be added. This way it remains easy to trace the origin of the money and it's clear that no joint money was ever added to it.


This matters if there is a divorce, because in most jurisdictions in Canada, money that was inherited by one of the people divorcing is exempt from being divided with the spouse. As described above, if you don't make sure that it's clearly inherited money and nothing else in the account, that account could be attacked and you could lose some of it.


When you make your Will, you can specifically leave that account to your children. I have always added a few words to my clients' Wills to identify the account as being one that was inherited from a parent. An alternative, of course, is to give some or all of your family inheritance to your children while you are alive, either by a direct transfer or by buying assets in joint names with them.

85 comments:

  1. hi lynne,

    my wife and i separated five years ago. we both live in mexico however, and we have one son, but i have no contact with him or her. we were married in canada.

    my mother recently passed and left an inheritance.

    how would/might that work in terms of my place of residency being mexico, though i am a canadian citizen, work...?

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  2. I am a divorced woman who collects spousal and is going to receive an inheritance within a year and would like to know if this will affect my spousal payments in Canada*

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    1. I am in the same situation. Did you find any information about it?

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    2. I suppose when you say you're a woman who "collects spousal", you mean you receive maintenance payment from a former spouse or partner. Receiving an inheritance won't have any automatic effect on your payments. However, it's possible that your former spouse may try to get the court to reduce the amount he pays on the basis that you need less from him. The court may or may not agree with him, but that is decided on a case by case basis.

      Lynne

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    3. Hello Lynne, my mother gave a specific list of what she wanted from her parent's house and was not allowed by her brother the executor to go to the house and was given a choice of having the boxes left for her put in storage or shipped to Calgary from Regina, she chose to have them shipped and was given a quote of first 2500 and then 5500, she was not told what she was given despite asking the trust agent why she was getting 3.5 bedrooms and 10500 pounds when she only had a 4 page list. She ended up getting a lot of junk basically garbage, like empty chocolate boxes and things from decades ago, she is not happy she is being forced to pay 5565 for this junk and they want her to sign the release. She has asked for full documentation of the accounting from the estate and asked to have the difference of the 2500 quote and actual 5565 moving expense given back to her, but the estate agents are telling her they will not address her issues and will proceed with taking it to court. We dont know what to do, my mom basically is asking to have $3809 back as she has no where to store what she received. It is really sad my uncle wont even be civil with her or talk to us.

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  3. My common law and i were together for 22 years, his mom helped us get a house, she had passed away and he inherited the house, he put my name on the house when it got transferred over, now we are seperate and selling house, am i entitled to any of that money

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    1. If your name is on the house, then you're an owner just as much as he is, so yes, you're entitled to some of the money.

      Lynne

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  4. I inherited money and used it to purchase a house for my mother in law. She lived there 10 years. The money came in to my account prior to the purchase and after I sold it I put it in a separate account. My husband and I are now divorcing and he wants half the money. We both put some joint money into a few renos on the house (maybe 3% of the value of the house). Can I somehow keep all of this money? He says it's half his because it did comingle to some degree.

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    1. Hi Pippa,
      The best I can do in this forum is to tell you some basic rules that apply in situations like yours. It seems unlikely to me that he would get half of the proceeds of the house because on marriage breakdown, some assets are exempt from division between the spouses. Money that was inherited is exempt and it sounds as if you've kept it separate for the most part. That makes it a lot easier to trace present assets back to the inheritance. Because there was some commingling of money due to the renovations, he might have a claim to some small part of the proceeds, but certainly not half. This sounds like the usual posturing and blustering that everyone does during a divorce (or an estate battle).

      Lynne

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    2. Thank you so much Lynne for your opinion!
      Pippa

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  5. As a remarried man, I want to bequeath the family cottage to my children on my death in an equal 3-way trust they will use to receive title. If any of my 3 kids are married at the time that the title transfers to them, do their spouses have any claim on the inheritance?

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    1. No, the spouses would not have any claim on the inheritance as long as it's in the trust. However, once anything is taken out of the trust by one of the kids and is shared with the spouse (such as adding the spouse once the title has been transferred) then rights could be created.

      I also suggest that you reconsider giving one cottage to three families. It's great that there's a trust which presumably contains enough money to keep up maintenance and property tax for a while, but they still have to agree on usage and eventually sale or transfer between them.

      Lynne

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    2. What would happen in the event that one of the 3 children passed away, who would get that persons share, considering it was the son/daughter AND their spouse that were maintaining the property, paying all bills, taxes, repair etc 3-ways. Would the spouse be entitled to the wife/husbands share?

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    3. Contributing to the bills etc does not create ownership. It won't entitle the spouse or child to the share that was owned by the deceased.

      However, the answer to this question is not simple. There are a lot of variables. The original post that led to this discussion was talking about a trust. The terms of the trust itself will determine what happens to the share of a deceased beneficiary and we have no way of knowing what was agreed.

      If there is no trust involved, the future of a deceased owner's share will depend on the type of ownership arrangement. If the person who died was a joint owner with the other two siblings, there is nothing to be given to the deceased person's spouse or children. That's how joint ownership works; it has a right of survivorship for the other owners. As I often say, a joint ownership is a last man standing arrangement. Having contributed to the bills and maintenance won't make a lick of difference unless the spouse and kids wanted to attempt a lawsuit based on the idea of unjust enrichment.

      If the three siblings owned the property as tenants in common, the share of the deceased sibling would be distributed according to the deceased's will and if he/she didn't leave a will then according to the laws of intestacy.

      Lynne

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  6. Thanks so much for the reply. I should state that I have spoken in detail with my 3 kids about the inheritance and the challenges of shared ownership. Since the cottage is so deeply entrenched in their being they are all prepared to make it work, and that makes me happy.

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  7. Hi Lynne,
    I received a trial settlement two years ago, in my name only. When I received the money I opened an account in my name only with that money. Since that time, I spent 1/3 of that amount on the common house that we own and common on family expenses.
    I know that what I've spent on the house and common expenses is now part of the common equity that divides in case of divorce, but I would like to know what would happen with the rest (the other 2/3 of the settlement money).
    Also, I have some pension funds from my work place. Is that subject to division in case of divorce ?
    Thank you for your time Lynne.
    Best regards,
    Dan

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    1. Hi Dan,
      The other 2/3 should be addressed in your will. If you don't make a will, local provincial intestacy law will determine where the funds will go. Typically there is a split made between the spouse and any children of the marriage.

      If you were to divorce, the 2/3 of the funds would be exempt from being split.

      Pension funds through employers can have a wide variety of plans. I think you'd be best off reading the literature directly from your plan or calling their administrator to ask.

      Lynne

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  8. Hi, my parents sent me a gift of a few hundred thousad dollars from a different country. I opened a separate account to keep that money. This happened while I was still married. In case of a divorce, will my husband have any rights this money? This account is open on my name only, and my husband has no access to it. But he knew that I received this gift from my parents. Thank you!

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    1. Hi Belka. Sorry, but I don't practice matrimonial law, so I can't be of any help on this one.

      Lynne

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  9. I need to know, in Ontario.... if I've been separated for 2 years and my mother recently passed and left a will. Should I be worried that I would be obligated to share my inheritance with my Ex if this is not specified in the will?

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    1. Ideally, you and your spouse should have finished your division of matrimonial property assets, with some kind of signed agreement or release.

      If that's not the case, you will have to rely on the legislation that says that funds inherited during a marriage are exempt from division on marital breakdown. While the principal goes in your favour, it usually still involves a battle before resolution.

      When people separate, unless they are leaving open the possibility of reconciliation, nothing good comes out of just letting the property and goods sit and wait.

      Lynne

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  10. Hi lyn, i inherited a house from my late husband and planning to cohabitate soon, is my new partner entitled to the said property when i die, im thinking of having my kids from late husband in my will as an option against prenuptial agreement with my new partner.im from saskatchewan

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  11. Hi Lynne...i am currently separated and my husband received inheritance which he opened a account in his name only at a different bank for the money...am i exempt from those funds?

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    1. I don't think you're entitled to those funds, for two reasons. One is that on matrimonial property division, inherited funds are exempt. The second is that it appears from your question that he inherited this after you separated. Please keep in mind that I practice only wills and estates law, NOT family law, so you might want to get a second opinion from a divorce lawyer.

      Lynne

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  12. Hi Lynne butler, I will be receiving money from my fathers estate soon, but I'm in a common law relationship, that I've been in for a couple years, if we split, what should i do to insure he doesn't receive anything my father leaves me. Thanks so much

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    1. First you need to make a will leaving the estate to someone else.

      Second you might consider getting a co-habitation agreement put into place.

      Third, you should find out what common law rights exist in your province. They are very, very different across the country. In some provinces, common laws have no rights at all and in others they have the same rights as married people.

      Finally, if at all possible, keep the money you inherit from your father separate from anything you hold with your partner. Don't put it into a joint account. Don't use it to buy things that you both use, such as a car.

      Lynne

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  13. what happens when the spouse is the excutor and the inheritor is a drunk and does not realize what the spouse is doing with the estate?

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    1. What do you mean, "what happens"? The question is just so open-ended, I don't know where to start. Could you narrow it down? Has something specific happened?

      Lynne

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    2. The spouse still has control of all the assets, accounts are in her name, and has told the husband she will control all the finances and he will have not say in what happens, and first purchase a lexus suv in her name as he has no licence and he is not allowed in the car as he is a drunk

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    3. UPDATE.. spouse has died, before his dads estate could be given to him, the will apparently states that if son should predecease dad funds go to his wife. but the spouse died after and without estate being given to him. Also the wifie went right to the lawyer as soon as the spouse was taken to hospital (because he had been sick not drunk zero alcohol levels) and asked if he died what happens to the money,, she was told she is legally married to him and not to worry all things should go to her. Is this true

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    4. This reply is for the July 29 comment because I have no idea what the earlier two were even asking.

      Yes, I think the wife will most likely inherit the funds. According to the facts you've stated, a father died, leaving assets to his son. The son was alive when dad died but hasn't actually received the assets. The son is still going to receive the assets, though of course it will go to his estate since he has died. What happens from there depends on the son's will. If she's getting his estate, it will include the funds he received from his dad.

      Lynne

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    5. the husband died with no will.. I am sorry if the first two did not make sense. I was asking what someone could do to help the husband not be taken advantage of by the spouse.

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    6. Now the spouse is getting everything from this poor guys estate.. she only stayed with him for the money..she has been having multiple affairs etc it is so sad he had to die, she really neglected his non booze related sickness 5 full days prior to his last hospitalization, and once taken to hospital, she did not go with him, instead went to the lawyer dealing with fathers estate to ask about him dying without a will. Questioned if she should push for a will to be signed that day etc. kinda twisted.

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    7. How can I make sure she has to prove she deserves all this money.. He died because of her...

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    8. Beneficiaries do not have to prove they deserve it. And prove it to whom, anyway? Where the assets go is nobody's choice but the person who owns them. I know this isn't the answer you wanted, but the law is about legal rights, not morality.

      Lynne

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    9. even without a will... really that is as you say not the answer I was hoping for but as you say the law is the law..

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    1. This is a pretty complicated matter to try to cover in a blog post.

      There are some variables that will come into play that aren't clear from your question. One is the province in which you live. Another is whether you two actually ever did divorce. Another is whether he ever lived common law with anyone after you two split.

      Your question focuses very much on how hard things were for you after the split, but inheritance law isn't really about that. As I said, I am not sure of your marital status, but if the two of you are actually divorced, you will not be entitled to anything under inheritance law.

      However, the fact that you believe that only some of the marital assets were dealt with is important. That property division would have priority over inheritances. You would have to make a claim under provincial family law provisions. That is something you should talk to a family law lawyer (as opposed to an inheritance lawyer) about ASAP.

      I find it extremely unlikely that you will be able to recover any medical expenses.

      As for your daughter, she is now an adult. She will have no automatic right to inherit anything from him unless she is a dependent who is unable to earn her own living. That does not seem to be the case despite her earlier health problems.

      A person making a will can do so no matter how weak they are, as all they have to be able to do is mark an x on the paper (assuming that he has the mental capacity to do so).

      I think your best bet is to ensure you get the rest of your matrimonial property. If you are actually still married to him, let me know as that would change my answer.

      Lynne

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  16. Good Morning. I am separated from my spouse for 3 years. My mother recently died and I have an inheritance that was left to me. Is my EX entitled to any of the money that is left to me? I have attempted to file separation papers and divorce papers without success. I am now working on getting a uncontested divorce. we have been separated for 3 years living in separate residences and t4 claiming separated status.

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    1. Hi Fern,
      When spouses split up their property, there are certain types of assets that are exempt from being divided. One of the exempt types is inheritance, so no, your ex would have no claim at all on your inheritance.

      Lynne

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  17. Hello I was wondering if anyone could answer my questions right of the bat. My parents are getting a divorce and my dad inherited money from his mom's passing. Does my mother get half of it if the account is in a bank account that is shared? Also do tje children get to say who they want to live with? If he spends all the money on a bike or something before the divorce is she still in tilted yo half of what the bike costs? If my mother is treating to the very from my dad because she has been unemployed for about 8 years and they have been married for 23 years, is there anyway that doesn't happen?

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    1. Hi Brianne,
      Most of your questions relate to family law, which I don't practice. However, I can answer your question about the inherited account, since my area of law is all about inheritance.

      If your dad had somehow kept the inherited money separate, it would not be divided on divorce. However, the fact that he put it into a joint account makes it more vulnerable. It's not guaranteed that it will be divided, but there is a very good chance.

      Lynne

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  18. Hi Lynne,
    I am a professional Canadian Citizen and immigrant.
    I sponsored my wife (Spouse) and brought her to Canada. Before she comes to Canada, during almost 10 years, my parents sent the major part of my inheritance to Canada for me.If I buy a house with that inheritance and the money which I have earned before marriage and we divorce,does my wife gets a part of this property?(Buying property after marriage but all the down payment provided before marriage)

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  19. It sounds like this(correct me if I am wrong); if you are married and you receive a inheritance , so long as you keep it 100% separate it is yours to keep if the marriage dissolves . Correct ?

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    1. As a general rule, that's correct.

      Lynne

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    2. Thanks Lynne,

      Here is the exact situation:
      I came to Canada in 2014
      I have been receiving an amount of money from my parents (more than 100k) as financial support since that time.I agreed with my family to supply this support from the major part of my inheritance (Some properties in my original country).Now I am married, I have to options, first to return the money to my parents who are alive and second they agree to leave it for me in Canada and I buy a property.
      Considering that I am married now,if I put this money as a down payment and pay all the mortgages from my salary,in case of divorce, can I have all this property or the court will tell me that because the mortgage is paid after marriage we should divide it?

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  20. Lynne, my mother recently died leaving me her sole heir. While she was ill, my husband and I were joint powers of attorney and he managed her investments. The money is now being transferred to an account in my name, but my husband wants to be put on the account so he can continue to trade it. I would prefer to keep at least some of the inheritance separate as our marriage has been a bit rocky. What are my options? Can I allow him to trade in the account diverting the income generated to a joint account without giving him a power of attorney to do so in my name which would give me no protection or control over the assets? Also, would allowing him access to the dividends be considered comingling and render the principal communal property?

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  21. Hello Lynne - I have what appears to be a complex situation to figure out. I have been living with my gf since ~ Jan 2012. During the time since, she has gotten a divorce settlement from her ex (~1.5 mil), a lawsuit judgement (~ 38 mil), and an inheritance from her friend (~1.5 mil). Her family learned of this and tried to claim she was unfit, etc, etc. Then they got together with a group and did everything they could to break us so we couldn't fight back (stealing from our bank accounts, causing us to lose our jobs, they even tried to poison us). For the last 5 years we have been spending everything we had on legal fees - the lawyers we had don't get paid until we get paid. I have lost my house, and we were homeless for ~ 3-1/2 months because of this. We are right now walking a tightrope, trying to make it through each day, and its really shaky. All of these things were in her name. I believe I might have been named as a beneficiary as part of the inheritance, but I'm not sure. My question is: If we were to split while all of this is being settled, would I be entitled to any of it ? I haven't talked to any of the lawyers involved, because they won't talk to me/acknowledge that I exist. I have paid probably 75% of the legal fees so far, which I estimate to be well over 100k. When she first moved into my house, she found out she had cancer, and had been locked out of her apartment. There are a few other details that we are still finding out about the gang stalking thing. What do you think ?

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  22. Both on the title, marital home, selling with consent, once completed, how is that money distributed? fear is selling spouse takes control of that money, decides to keep it.

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  23. Question #1. Does a 2010 Marriage trump a 2006 Will? (Ontario)
    Question #2. How does the 'new Marriage invalidating a pre-existing Will' rule vary across Canadian provinces?

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    1. Yes, in Ontario a new marriage invalidates an existing will. If you'd like a detailed breakdown of how these rules work in all provinces and territories of Canada, I suggest you buy my book called "The No Nonsense, Real Life Guide to Estate Planning in Canada" and check out chapter 8.

      Lynne

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  24. Hi Lynne,
    I have been in a common law relationship for 10 years. We are now separating. We have two kids, 6 and 5. My ex-partner is trying to convince me that the house proceeds will not be split in half. We purchased the house in 2012 shortly after our second son was born. There was a bit of a glitch at the beginning. He got his inheritance money and put it into our joint account, which was given for the purpose of a downpayment. He first placed the house in his name only, and then added my name to it a couple weeks later, as I was upset that he did that.
    So the issue now, 5 years later, is that he says he is entitled to his inheritence money back.
    Would you please shed some light.
    Suada.

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  25. hi there, i recently received a early inhertance of a home, after transfering the home, i added my spouses name to the title, is she now intitled to half the home in a divorce?

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    1. I don't practice family law so I can't really comment on what anyone will or won't get in a divorce. All I can do is tell you the general rules of inheritance of property that will apply.

      As a general rule, anything that you inherit is not divided up on divorce. However, in your case you have actually given your spouse some of what you inherited so it can now be divided in case of a divorce.

      Lynne

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  26. My father recently died. In his will he didn't state that my inheritance wouldn't form part of matrimonial asset. Apart from keeping the asset separate is there anything else that I can do to ensure that my inheritance isn't shared with my spouse in a divorce?

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  27. Let's say a couple has been married 10+ years, the husband is the sole heir to a somewhat large amount of money. The couple has planned their entire relationship that the inheritance will be used as their retirement funds. As a result they have not invested very much money into their retirement accounts. What happens to the wife if they divorce?

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    1. That depends on a few things. Is their agreement recorded anywhere? Has the husband kept all of the inheritance funds in his name only? Are they invested in something like an RRSP that names his wife as beneficiary?

      In the event of a divorce, either a) the husband will voluntarily split the money with his wife; or
      b) she will claim half of the funds and they will duke it out until they agree or a judge imposes a settlement.

      Lynne

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  28. Hi Lynn,
    My ex and I have decided to purchase a home together (where I am providing the full down payment), he will be living with myself and our child. He currently owns 3 additional properties and is staying that if it doesn't work out he will not take the home from me and my daughter and says he will not say he is entitled to it. I am wondering what sort of paperwork I can have written up prior to the purchase of this home to secure this agreement. He will attempt to live with us in the home and be paying for bills/mortgage jointly with me. He wants me to try to live with him and make things work, I am not sure if I see it happening but our daughter is very young and I want her to know her parents did everything to be a family. Please let me know what you think. The whole thing sounds crazy to me.

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  29. Hi Lynne,
    My daughter lives in Canada with her family, they are Canadian citizens, I am not. I do not want her part of inheritance being divided with her spouse in case of divorce. How can I ensure that?
    According to your post, it seems like if she receives the money and uses it, it cannot be separated any more, therefore it must be kept in a separate account. Does Canadian law recognize her right to keep the money in case of divorce, or do I need to have her spouse sign anything?
    thanks in advance.

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    1. Canadian law on the division of matrimonial property is a provincial matter so it varies in many ways from place to place. However, in every jurisdiction that I know of, assets that are inherited are exempt from being divided on divorce. This means there is no automatic right for your daughter's spouse to claim any part of her inheritance.

      What I said in the article is that if your daughter receives an inheritance and shares it with her husband, she can't necessarily take it back if they later divorce. For example, if she uses the inheritance to buy a cabin at the lake and puts both her name and her husband's name on the cabin, the funds are no longer "hers". The cabin is now an asset that would have to be negotiated during their settlement discussions.Either one of them might end up getting it, but the point is that it's no longer exempt.

      It seems to me that in terms of having the spouse sign something, it would have to be an agreement between your daughter and her spouse as to the disposition of their assets. This is basically a pre-nuptial agreement that would be done after the wedding as opposed to before the wedding.

      Lynne

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  30. My ex wife and I are currently in the process of filing for a divorce, we do have a child (8yrs old) together, my father is currently don't doing. Well and I was just wondering if there is a way that my father or me his only son can stop my ex-wife from touching his inheritance.. when my ex-wife and I got separated she left me with nothing, as in just my clothes on my back.. can my father stop her legally from getting anything from his estate?? Reliable information only,.. thanks

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    1. Are you asking me for reliable information only? Very strange. Why would you post here if you thought you wouldn't get reliable information?

      Anyway, your wife isn't entitled to anything from your father's estate. She's not related to him.

      Also, when parties divorce, monies they have inherited are exempt from being divided.

      Now, to be on the safe side, your father should NOT DO A HOME MADE WILL and should see a lawyer to have a strong one made. He might consider leaving your share of the estate to a trust (one that you can collapse in the future when the coast is clear) so that there is no way she can say you got the money while you two were married. The trust should say that your share will go to your son if you pass away. Now make sure that there is no way she can be the trustee of any funds that go to your son. Actually state that in the will and name someone who is going to be there if you can't be there and who will look out for your son while he's a child.

      This can be done but it needs to be done right.

      Lynne

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  31. Hello. My husband (second marriage) and I have Wills done, however, his son is angry that his father has remarried and he has been sending text messages to his father stating he wants his inheritance money now and that he's hiring a lawyer (we live in BC) to get his money because he refuses to wait for his (healthy) Dad to die. Our Will's state that he won't get his inheritance until I pass away should his Dad die first. Is there any possibility that he can receive monies prior to the time set out in his Father's Will? Thank you for your help.

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    1. Wow, the son sounds like a hot-head. He's demanding inheritance as if he is entitled to it. But it doesn't work that way. Hiring a lawyer will not help him get anything out of his father while his father is alive and even the idea of it is ridiculous.

      If your husband passes away first and the son has to wait for your death before he inherits, he can apply to the court to vary that trust. This doesn't necessarily mean that he will win, but there is always a chance. Besides, just the fact that you have to defend an expensive, malicious lawsuit in court puts you through the wringer.

      Make sure your husband has a strong will that anticipates this kind of behaviour by the son. Consider using a clause that says that anyone who contests the will loses his inheritance (don't try this without a lawyer!).

      There might be ways in which your husband can protect parts of the estate by putting them into joint names with you, etc. Not knowing the details of the estate I can't say what those might be, but it's worth taking a look at.

      Something else that is ESSENTIAL is a good, strong Enduring Power of Attorney. If your husband should lose his mental capacity and his son gets his hands on a POA, you can probably say goodbye to all of the assets.

      Hopefully your husband will just kick this tantrum-throwing kid to the curb and cut him out entirely.

      Lynne

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  32. Could the wife change the Will after the husband dies ? I hear of this at times . Usually the second wife. Re a son worried about his inheritance from dad ?

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    1. Yes, the wife can change the will after the husband dies, or vice versa. There is absolutely nothing preventing that. The only time a person cannot change their will after their spouse dies is if they have a specific type of will. It's rare though. In my 32 years of making wills, I've only done them twice.

      Lynne

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  33. Hi there,
    My parents and I purchased a home that myself and my common law partner had been living in. My parents gave me the money for a downpayment and a lump sum for renovations. My dad and my name are both on title. My partner and I recently separated and he is now going after me for a portion of the equity of the home. He did contribute to half the monthly costs which was agreed upon as rent before the purchase of the house and multiple time during the course of our relationship. He put no money into the house outside of monthly costs and did no renovations as he knew wanted to keep it separate as it was mine and my parents investment. Is he entitled to anything? He's asking for quite a bit of money and is denying that he paid rent and is saying that he contributed to carrying costs and is entitled. He also didn't do anything out of the ordinary in terms of upkeep as my parents and I did anything extra that needed done.
    Thank you in advance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This really doesn't have anything to do with estate planning. Sounds to me as if you need a good family law/divorce lawyer.

      Lynne

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  34. If my husband of 24 yrs bought a home we have lived in for a few months am I entitled to anything?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I assume when you ask if you're entitled to anything, you're talking about on your husband's death. You could also be talking about divorce but since I don't do that kind of work, I'll stick to what happens on death.

      Generally speaking, the provinces have protections in place for spouses who live in a particular home with a spouse. It is impossible for me to give a more solid answer because each province has different rules for the matrimonial home. There are also other factor such as joint property designations (in this case your husband with anyone else), legally married vs common law issues, and whether there is a will in place.

      This topic is covered in detail, province by province, in my last book called "No Nonsense, Real Life Guide to Estate Planning in Canada"

      Lynne

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  35. Sorry I should have been clearer. My husband bought our home a few months ago with inheritance money. We have been married 24 yrs. The house is in both our names so does it mean I am entitled to any of the house?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If your name is on it, you're an owner, so of course you are entitled to it.

      Lynne

      Delete
  36. My parents are still married but have been seperated 25 years.My father still lives in the matrimoney home and scared and abused my mother so she left with nothing.If he trys to leave the house to someone ( lets say his 2 new kids with the neighbour that he cheated on my mom with )Is she entitled to anything?

    Also my parents split when i was 13 and he promised her to support me. He never did. I indured many years of emotional and physical abuse from him and I have a medical condition now ( fibromyalgia) which i believes stems from this abuse. i am unable to work or carry out daily activities. Do i have any chance of winning if i contest his will or trust? My father is a racist,sexist and abusive person and will only leave what he has to his 3 boys and not his 5 daughters. He never supported any of us and abused all us girls. He stole everything from my mother and us and it makes me sick that hes going to give eveything to the neighbours kids ( this is why we left ). he cheated and she moved next door when we left to have these 2 kids. This isnt there home.It was our familys that was stolen. Please let me know Thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is a lot going on here but I'll try to hit a few points. I think your mom should get some of this stuff straightened out while she has the chance. It's all very well to call the house the matrimonial home but at what point does that name no longer apply? How long is she going to say it was stolen without doint anything about it? She's already been out of there for 25 years. If I were the lawyer for your dad's estate I'd argue that she had 25 years or more to make a matrimonial property claim but never did. Keep in mind that the rights surrounding matrimonial homes differ from province to province but time is working against your mother. Also, if your mother dies before your father, you kids won't have a leg to stand on when it comes to the house.

      You do not get to inherit anything because your father was abusive. You don't get anything because he cheated on your mom. In estate law, the court's role is not to punish people.

      The fibromyalgia is an interesting factor. In my opinion, the cause of the condition is not relevant to whether or not you can expect financial support from your parents. I believe that you are entitled to support from both your parents' estates if you are financially dependent upon them. It won't be an easy case because you said he does not support you financially now, but there would still be an argument that he SHOULD be supporting you in his will.

      A verbal promise to support someone is not particularly helpful, since nobody has enforced it for 25 years. Was there any kind of written agreement or court order for support?

      I strongly suggest that you and your mother consider seeing a local lawyer who does family law. See what you can do about the house and a divorce settlement first.

      Lynne

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  37. I placed some of my inheritance money in a separate bank account in my name. What I would like to know is if I can invest that money into investments that will provide a better return without it becoming accessible to my husband during a divorce (just in case!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, you can. The important part is ensuring that the investments are in your name only and that tax receipts are in your name only.

      Lynne

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  38. I have a quick question with regards to an inheritance.
    I'm gathering that the spouse the inheritance is for can decide to not share any of the funds with their current partner.
    WHat would happen in the case that an inheritance is put into a joint bank account many joint debts cleared, the remainder of the funds, I am gleaning from your article here would be up to the recipient to share or not with their spouse.
    Could they take the balance out of the joint account and open a new one to put the remaining balance in and have it be safe?
    No divorce or separation in process.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In my opinion, you have muddied the waters by putting the funds in a joint account in the first place. Can you open a new account? Sure. Will that keep it forever out of the hands of your spouse? Unlikely. It's joint money now.

      Lynne

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  39. Hello,

    I am in a strange dilemma. A relative passed away recently and he has a widow and child with that widow. Now, they had a somewhat troubled marriage and it appears that he may have hidden some assests from her in case there was a divorce in the future. They never actually seperated and tried to work things out before he passed away. Now, his siblings have come in and claimed assets such as luxury vehicles, etc as their own claiming that he had transferred those over to them so they own everything. The widow is left pretty shocked and being that she's quite young and does not have any family here, she's very vulnerable. She's left with literally nothing even though they had been married for 5+ years and share a child. The keys to all the vehicles have been taken. Now, her husband was using these vehicles daily and so she had no idea that he had transferred them over to family (she's still not sure if this is true since she never saw any evidence of this). So I was wondering, what can I do to help her? Is she entitled to anything? Would a lawyer be able to help her at all in this situation?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, she needs a lawyer and quickly before all the assets disappear. As a spouse, she is entitled to be supported by her husband regardless of the happiness of the marriage. If he transferred items to his siblings, let them show the documentation for that.

      You haven't mentioned a will, but that is obviously important. The executor of the will should apply for probate. As a spouse she may claim dependent's relief against assets of the estate that are left to other people. IMO, she and the child would be able to get the entire estate, but of course that's limited by what is actually in the estate and what has been transferred to other people.

      For what it's worth, his siblings sound like horrible people.

      Lynne

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  40. Hi Lynne, If I want to marry, and after marriage I receive money from back home, and I want to pay it as a down payment, then rent the apartment, and pay the instalments, what do I need to do in order to prevent it to go to my husband, in case of divorce or in case of my death? I have a daughter and I want all the money from back home (my country) to go to my daughter after me.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Hello, Let's say you want to use your inheritance to help purchase your next house. Can you make up an agreement with your spouse that indicates that amount is like a 'loan' and is not considered to be 'common property'. In the event of a dissolution or sale that principal amount should be returned to you and a pro-rated amount of profit?
    Thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. You can make an agreement much like a pre-nup or co-habitation agreement. Or, depending on the situation, your spouse could opt out of the dower rights or family law rights that would give him/her a share of the house.

      Lynne

      Delete

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