“I do” and “I will” — Why you may need a new estate plan

Authors: Katrina Scaramuzzi, Jihan Hosein

Getting married could invalidate your will, which would mean it would be “revoked” and no longer in effect when you die.

In Manitoba, if you get married after your will has been signed, it will be revoked in most cases. As a matter of public policy, Manitoba’s laws assume that you would have wanted to provide for your new spouse, but you never got around to making a new will.

Marriage will not revoke a will when the will is made “in contemplation of marriage.” However, marriage will revoke most people’s existing wills, so it is important to talk to a lawyer about updating your will if you are planning to get married or you recently got married.

Your wishes may not be followed without a new will

If you choose not to have a new will drafted after getting married, when you die you will be considered to have died “intestate,” meaning you died without a will.

If you die intestate in Manitoba, your estate will be distributed according to The Intestate Succession Act, which sets out which of your next-of-kin are entitled to inherit your estate and in what order. Without a will, your surviving spouse could receive your entire estate provided you do not have any children from a previous relationship; however, with a will, you can leave parts of your estate to your children, step-children, friends, distant relatives and charities.

If you are planning to get married or recently got married and have not updated your will, a lawyer can help you determine whether you need a new will prepared, ensuring that your loved ones are provided for and your obligations are met when you die.

Why you should consider a pre-nuptial agreement

Preparing a pre-nuptial agreement (a “pre-nup”) is one of the most fundamental discussions of the financial aspects of your relationship. A pre-nup is a written agreement generally prepared prior to marriage that outlines the rights and responsibilities between the two people getting married. A pre-nup can relate to assets, debts, gifts and ownership of property, indicating how everything will be divided in the event of a separation or death.

Wills and estates law often overlaps with family law, and a pre-nup can have an impact on your will. As such, you should always make sure both documents say the same thing — especially if you would like to ensure any entitlements and/or obligations (for example, obligations you may have to children from previous relationships) are honoured after your death. A pre-nup can safeguard you from possible arguments, challenges and possible family property claims upon your passing.

For further information on estate planning in Manitoba, please reach out to a member of our Estate Planning & Administration group.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.