by Doris Lancaster
Do you have a blended family? If so, you need to take extra precautions to make sure that your estate plans are properly setup.
Blended families are families where some or all of the children in the family are not the natural or adopted children of both spouses. Even though they’re very commonplace these days, the planning required is anything but.
Challenging situations can be avoided by first considering everyone’s interests and then the needs of your personal estate plan. The main reason many blended families don’t structure their plans properly (which typically results in one branch of the family receiving the entire estate while the other receives little or nothing) is because many attempt to “make things simple” by placing all of their assets in joint ownership with their spouse.
The other common reason is due to the use of a “standard” will, which usually indicate that upon death of the first spouse, everything is to go to the survivor.
Let’s look at a few examples of how this could work. In our hypothetical scenario, John and Mary are married and both have children from previous relationships. They hold their home and non-registered investments in joint names, have designated each other as the direct beneficiaries of their insurance policies, TFSAs and RRSPs. Pretty standard.
Here are a few possible outcomes:
1) If John dies first, Mary will inherit everything regardless of the terms of John’s will since nothing went through his estate. Mary’s will simply states that if John pre-deceases her, all of her assets are divided equally between her children. Without her step-children (John’s kids) specifically named on her will, it would be interpreted that the money goes to her natural born children only and John’s kids would be left with nothing – even though his will said that 50 per cent was meant to go to Mary and 50 per cent was designated for his kids.
2) John and Mary both have wills that specifically list the names of both of their children. John passes away first and Mary remarries a few years later which renders her previous will void. Mary doesn’t sign a new will after re-marrying and dies a few years later which leaves her intestate. All of her and John’s assets will go to her new spouse and her children only, since the intestate legislation does not include step-children.
3) If John passes away first and Mary re-marries but does sign a new will, specifically naming John’s children, her new spouse could still have a first claim against a portion (or all) of the assets. This is a particular risk here in the province of B.C. where the Wills Variation Act can lead to some strange outcomes.
4) Mary may also choose to re-write her will after John’s death specifically naming her children only. Or she may choose to simply give away all their joint assets before her death too. If you want the survivor to be bound by the original wills, then you should sign a contract agreeing not to change them (or not to change the ultimate distribution scheme in any later will) after the death of the first spouse.
Even if you sign wills that specifically contemplate all children and also sign a contract agreeing not to change your will, there are still several easy ways to disinherit a late spouse’s children. In many cases the surviving spouse does not choose to disinherit their step-children, but it can happen entirely by accident.
A properly structured estate plan will determine how assets should be handled between a new spouse and children from a previous relationship. Possible solutions include spouse or common-law partner trusts, dividing the assets between the spouse and children, and using life insurance to satisfy all beneficiaries.
As you can see, estate planning is complicated for most Canadians and planning for blended families can become even more complex. Speaking to a Certified Financial Planner is important to make sure that you do things properly.
This column is written by Michelle Weisheit CFP, IG Wealth Management and presents general information only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell any investments. Please contact your own advisor for specific advice about your situation
June 5, 2020: Spring freshet update – Osoyoos Lake level is dropping!
With flow of the Similkameen River declining since its recent peak on June 1, the backwater effect of the Similkameen River on the Okanogan River is decreasing. This allows for increased outflow from Osoyoos Lake and a corresponding drop in its level. Osoyoos Lake crested at 913.65 ft. (278.481 m) on June 2, and is now 913.26 ft. (278.423 m) at 06:45 June 5. The rate of Osoyoos Lake’s water-level decline will depend on the rate of decrease in Similkameen River flow, inflow rates from the Okanagan River system, and the potential for runoff from precipitation and snowmelt to the Okanagan and Similkameen River.
Outflow at Okanagan Lake Dam was increased by 250 cfs (7.1 cms) on June 2 because Okanagan Lake was above full pool levels, but appears to be cresting (June 5 level is 1,123.97 ft. (342.587 m). The release from Okanagan Lake resulted in inflow of about 2,900 cfs (82.1 cms) into Osoyoos Lake by June 3. The Okanagan Lake release was delayed until after the backwater effect of the Similkameen River decreased and outflow from Osoyoos Lake increased.
Zosel Dam will continue to maintain all flow control gates fully open during this time, until the lake level drops below the upper limit of the IJC rule curve for Osoyoos Lake (912 ft.).
The subject property is located on Fairview Road, in between the post office and the high school. The surrounding pattern of development consists of a mix of single family and institutional zoned properties.
The subject property is zoned RH1 (Residential High Density One), and designated by the OCP as HR (High Density Residential). In 2008, road closure Bylaw 1207 was adopted which involved the closure of Co-op Avenue and transfer to the subject property owner in exchange for a 2.5m road dedication and corner cut along Fairview Road.
This exchange did not occur until earlier in 2020, which paved the way for the proposed application. The size of the subject property is now 1870 m2. It is important to note that the road closure portion is covered by a statutory ROW which does not allow the owner to construct any buildings on it. Through this application, the Town is permitting the developers to construct a driveway, landscaping and fencing in this area provided the Town is not responsible to restore all of this works after exercising its right to access its infrastructure.
The applicant is proposing to construct a multi-family development involving a three-unit and four-unit townhouse for a total of seven dwelling units. The subject property is located within the Multiple Family Development Permit Area of the OCP and requires approval for the design and to address landscaping requirements. Secondly, the applicant is requesting a development variance permit to vary the following sections of Zoning Bylaw 1380:
• Section 12.1.7 (a)(ii): to decrease the minimum rear parcel line setback from 6.0m to 3.0m.
• Section 12.1.7 (a)(iv): to decrease the minimum exterior side parcel line setback from
6.0m to 3.0m.
Policies in the OCP support the use of lands designated High Density Residential (HR) identified in Schedule ‘B’ (Official Community Plan Map) for townhomes and apartment buildings, accessory structures, parks, and neighbourhood commercial uses. The townhouse development proposal is aligned with the HR designation.