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Monday, June 13, 2011

Alberta's new Wills and Succession Act - part 4

As I mentioned in parts 1 through 3 of my posts about Alberta's new laws, the changes will be enormous. The change I'd like to tell you about today has to do with marriage, divorce, common law relationships and what they do to your will in Alberta.

[Note: in Alberta common-law relationships are called adult interdependent relationships. They can be either opposite-sex or same-sex, and the couples in these relationships are referred to as adult interdependent partners or AIPs.]

The old law (which is still in effect through 2011) says that any will you made before you were married is automatically revoked when you get married. The only exception was a case in which the will was specifically made in contemplation of a specific marriage and referred to the marriage in the will. It also said that if you got divorced, there was no effect on your will. All of this is changing.

Under the new law, your will is not going to be revoked just by getting married, no matter when your will was made. Your will is not going to be revoked just because you become an AIP.

The new provisions about what happens when a relationship ends are also radically different from what they were before. If your marriage or adult interdependent relationship ends, your will is still valid, but any gift to your ex-spouse or ex-AIP will be revoked, unless your will specifically says otherwise.

The gift that would have gone to the spouse/AIP will be treated as if the spouse/AIP had died. Most wills have - or should have - directions for paying out the estate if the spouse has already died, and those directions will be followed.

This rule applies no matter when the will in question was made, but only applies to divorces or termination of AIP relationships that happen once the new law comes into effect.

It would be a good idea to take out your current will and read it over with these changes in mind. Many clients will be making appointments to review their wills with their lawyers once the new law comes into force, and I strongly recommend that you do that as well.

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