Marriage is the start of a life-changing journey. It is at once exciting and nerve-racking, so you’d be forgiven for not wanting to concern yourself with paperwork immediately after tying the knot. Still, it’s wise to prepare for what’s necessary, and rewriting your will should be a top priority.
Validity Upon Marriage
In Canada, the US, and the UK, marriage will in many cases revoke your will. However, there are exceptions. For instance, this rule does not apply in Quebec and it has recently been repealed in Alberta and BC. In many regions where it does apply, you’ll be exempt from total revocation if you wrote your will specifically with your spouse in mind, and within it you explicitly referred to the forthcoming marriage and your future spouse by name. Regardless of how valid your existing will is, marriage is a significant family change that affects many aspects of property ownership and taxation, so a rewrite is always a good idea.
Property and Tax Considerations
While in most cases spouses are entitled to significant portions of their late partner’s estate even without a new will, rewriting allows you to build clear and specific directives regarding how exactly assets are allocated, all while accounting for regional legal specificities that affect spousal inheritance. Meanwhile, whether or not you live in a region where your spouse will be subject to inheritance and estate taxes as a beneficiary of your will, rewriting this document with professional assistance will give you access to the best tax planning strategies. This can help you optimize the value of your bequest for your spouse after marriage.
Together or Separate?
One of the more common questions that arise for newly married couples is whether or not they should write “mirror wills” together. This is when a couple make mutually agreed upon directives that ensure equal portions of their assets for one another and remaining amounts for their children and other beneficiaries. Generally speaking, however, this is particularly inadvisable for high net worth individuals, blended families, or other cases that involve more complicated familial and financial structures. Individual wills, combined with instruments such as premarital agreements, can provide optimal control over the entanglement and disentanglement of estates.
The team at MacMillan Estate Planning would like to wish you the warmest congratulations on your new marriage. We help married couples and families manage all of the most important aspects of their estates, so give us a call at 1-833-266-6464 to set up a free consultation today.