We received a shocking call from our friend Mary around Christmas time last year. Her marathon running spouse, Miles, died of a massive heart attack while on a training run near their Burlington home. As unexpected as it was, we figured that she was in pretty good shape. After all they have substantial RRIF assets, a beautiful Aldershot home and a sizeable investment portfolio in Miles' name. "We never got around to finalizing our wills, as you had suggested," she blurted out. "Now what am I going to do?"
It became a bigger headache than any of us bargained for. First, we had to make an application to the courts, creating legal and administration fees of over $10,000. Secondly, and most disappointing to Mary, she was entitled to only the first $200,000 of Miles' estate – the remainder had to be split, 1/3 to her and 2/3 to the children - not at all what she and Miles had intended. To top things off, we had to sell a majority of his investment portfolio to distribute the estate to their children, which triggered a large tax bill.
All this could have been avoided with a will.