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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wave of wealth transfer has lawyers bracing for litigation

$900 billion is a lot of money. That is the amount of money estimated to be handed down from the post-war generation to their children and grandchildren over the next decade. And due to additional factors such as people living longer and consequently encountering a greater chance of dementia, experts are predicting a tsunami of estate litigation.

To read more about this, click here to see an article by Barrie, ON lawyer Steve Rastin.

You don't want to be part of this tsunami. Nor should  you want your spouse and/or children left behind to be part of it. Not only will thousands of dollars be used up on legal fees, but your family relationships will not survive it.

What can you do to increase your family's chances of avoiding estate litigation? First of all, get a will made. I mean a proper, thorough will that has been talked out in detail with your planning lawyer. Sure, you can save a few bucks by doing it yourself, but you will probably lose tens of thousands later when the mistakes you make come to light after your death.

Second, get an Enduring Power of Attorney in place. Pick your representative carefully (this goes for your will, too). Include clauses that give transparency. Require your representative to report on a regular basis to others so that he or she is not operating in the shadows. Don't be afraid of hurting feelings by protecting yourself!

Third, if you re-marry, get a pre-nuptial agreement that specifically addresses how your estates will be treated so that there is no question later.

Fourth, talk to your adult children about your plans. Tell them where to find your will after you pass. If you are treating one of your kids differently from the others, tell them why, so you can deal with any questions or complaints now. Being open about your plans will help your children spot undue influence if someone coerces you later into making a will you don't really want.

Fifth, resist taking "home-made" steps such as adding children as  joint owners of assets. If that worked as well as people think it does, it wouldn't be litigated every day in this country. As I said about the home-made will, doing things like adding children to assets without legal advice may save you a few dollars today but could end up draining your entire estate later as the children resort to the courts to figure it out.

Sixth. Admit to yourself that estate litigation can happen in your family. Don't kid yourself that it can't.

1 comment:

  1. Sixth. Admit to yourself that estate litigation can happen in your family. Don't kid yourself that it can't.[LB]

    I am living proof of that and I can assure you that 'you don't want that'. I can't even get my estate matter to Trial let alone litigation. I have informed my adult children that should something happen to me that they finish what needs to be resolved and settled. The legal costs are astronomical and this is a simple Estate. There is something rotten in the state of Ontario.(Don't know about Denmark):)


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