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This months topic is “Tomorrowitis.” Many people pass away without any plan in place. There are lots of reasons for this: people think they do not need a written plan, the thought of doing a Will makes them uncomfortable, they can not decide a distribution plan or select the executors. One thing that may help clients begin the process, is that with a typical estate plan, anything can be changed or modified.

There is a recent interesting case from Canada that shows what can happen to a family when someone dies and leaves things in a mess. Mr. Barrick died at 102 years old. He had a valid Will, but because he distrusted banks, he kept all his money in his home. After Mr. Barrick died, his son found $96,000.00 in the house, which he gave to his three sisters. His sisters, however, believed that there was another box full of money in the house – $210,000.00 worth – that he never mentioned. So, they took him to Court. The Judge ultimately found that there was not enough evidence to conclude that the box of money ever existed.

The saddest part of the whole situation was identified by the Judge: “[T]he children of Mr. Barrick are in court sad, broken, and hopelessly divided on this issue, for which there shall never be any happy resolution. Alvin’s once happy family is torn asunder by the very thing he did not care about – money – or perhaps the very thing he cared too much about to protect his children from their fate of being siblings squabbling over money he may have had.

Read the full opinion: Barrick v. Lilliste, 2011 ONSC 1847 (2011).

Preparing for an Initial Estate Planning Meeting

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