Estates & Wills & Trusts

Case a reminder to review estate plans

The importance of reviewing your will was highlighted recently in a Superior Court ruling that demonstrated the court’s discretion to limit testamentary freedom, Toronto trust and estate litigator Felice Kirsh says in Law Times.

Justice Guy Di Tomaso rewrote the will of a deceased Ontario man who left nothing to his common-law wife of 11 years by reallocating life insurance money from a policy naming a previous spouse the beneficiary, Law Times reports.

Camille Nancy Stevens went to court after discovering her late common-law spouse Mark Fisher had left her out of his will upon his death, the report says. Instead, Fisher’s life insurance policy named his ex-common law spouse, Constance Alice Margaret Eagles, the beneficiary.

As the designated beneficiary, Eagles claimed entitlement to the entire proceeds of Fisher’s insurance policy, Law Times reports, noting Eagles had been Fisher’s common-law spouse for 13 months about 12 years ago.

In the decision, Di Tomaso ordered that Stevens, not Eagles, should receive the insurance funds despite the beneficiary designation.

Fisher’s will dates back to February 1999 - months before he started living with Stevens, the report says.

“People do forget that they have old insurance policies - I’d say that’s common - and they forget who their beneficiaries are in all policies,” Kirsh says in the article.

“That’s why it’s important for people to check - I’d say every year - who are the beneficiaries of your RRSP or your life insurance policy or your group life insurance policy and are you still OK with it?”

Kirsh says the ruling is “an expected decision. It’s in accordance with the provisions of the law.”

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