Protection for children from another relationship: It is common practice for spouses to leave all of their assets to one another under their Wills. This can be adequate estate planning if all children in the family are biological or adopted children of both spouses, but can lead to problems in blended families.
For example, consider a couple who remarry, and both have children from previous relationships. The wife may leave all of her assets to her husband in her Will. Upon her death, everything passes to her husband, while her children from her previous relationship are not provided for.
When the husband passes away, he has no obligation to provide for his wife’s children (his step-children). This is because there is no moral obligation to provide for step-children under the Wills, Estates and Succession Act. The unintended result in this example is that the wife’s children from a previous relationship receive no inheritance under either estate. This result can be avoided by hiring an Estate Planning lawyer to address your specific wishes in advance.
Unequal treatment of children: You may wish to leave more assets to certain adult children if they are more dependent on you than others. Because unequal division can be varied by the court, it is important to hire an estate planning lawyer to ensure that your assets are divided in accordance with your wishes.
Probate tax: When your assets pass through probate, they will be taxed. There are ways to avoid this using various estate planning techniques. This is particularly important for those with high value assets. For example, you may wish to legally transfer assets out of your possession before you pass, in order to diminish the total value to be taxed in the estate.
Protect disability benefits: If a beneficiary of a Will receives a large inheritance from a Will, they may be disentitled from their disability benefits under the Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Act. This can be an unintended consequence of dying intestate which is one of the reasons why it is important to consult with an estate planning lawyer.