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Estate litigation common after late-life divorces

Many in British Columbia who have lost a spouse or gone through a divorce may feel they will never love again. Finding a partner later in life, perhaps for the second or third time, can seem like a dream come true. Planning and anticipating a wedding brings its own preoccupations; however, making changes in one's estate plan may not be a part of them. Nevertheless, late life – or grey – marriages can complicate matters and result in families dealing with estate litigation.

Without carefully considering the implications of a second or third marriage, older couples may neglect to make important changes in their estate plans. Marriage may change the validity of certain terms in a will or perhaps nullify the entire will. If one has children from earlier marriages, the inheritance of those children may not be protected if the parent remarries.

Each province, including British Columbia, has jurisdiction over estate law. In general, it is often difficult for a spouse to provide well for a new partner and leave a fitting inheritance for children from earlier relationships. It is also common for those marrying later in life to neglect to update beneficiaries on RRSPs, RRIFs and insurance policies, often unwittingly leaving those benefits to former spouses or deceased family members.

An estate plan may become obsolete when someone remarries late in life, and this may leave family members in confusion and frustrated as they attempt to sort out the true intentions of the deceased. Often, this involves complex estate litigation with no guarantees for the outcome. Individuals in this situation may proceed more confidently if they have the representation of a skilled legal professional.

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