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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What a difference a day makes

You may have noticed that in the will your lawyer drew up for you, it states that your spouse will inherit your estate if he or she survives you by 30 days. Some lawyers use 20 days or even 10 days, as the number of days is not set out by law. Have you ever wondered why that clause is included, or how it works?

A recent article in www.advocatedaily.com talks about a case in which this clause was included in a will, and the spouse died one month later. The court had to decide whether the spouse inherited the estate or not, as there would be a different set of beneficiaries depending on the outcome.

Click here to read the article by Paul Trudelle.

To understand why a clause like this is used in a will, consider a situation in which you and your spouse are involved in a car crash. Your spouse dies on the scene. You die three days later. Your spouse's estate passes to you, then three days later your estate passes to your beneficiaries. Without a survivorship clause, you could end up with two separate estates, two probates and two sets of costs because of that three-day gap.

The survivorship clause is intended to ensure that in a situation like this, your estate and your spouse's estate may be treated as if they were only one estate for the purposes of distribution.

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