In Alberta, new legislation was passed on February 1, 2012 with sweeping changes to how marriage and divorce affects your will.
It used to be that entering into a marriage or an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement revoked any existing will. Under the new legislation, these events do not revoke an existing will. However, if you do not change your will to include your new spouse, you could have trouble looming after your death with a claim on your estate by your spouse (that’s for another article…).
In Saskatchewan, it is still the case that entering into a marriage or into a spousal relationship (living together over 24 months) revokes your existing will unless (1) it is made in contemplation of that marriage or spousal relationship or (2) you made your will after you became spouses (lived together 24 months) and then marry that person.
It is still the case in Alberta and Saskatchewan that a divorce does not revoke a will. However, the new Alberta legislation states that upon divorce, the appointment of your former spouse as Executor / Trustee and/or any gifts to them are deemed revoked. Be cautious, though, because although gifts in a will are revoked, the designation of beneficiaries in 3rd party contracts such as life insurance, RRSPs, pension plan, etc., are not deemed to be revoked. Many people forget to change these beneficiaries, which can have a significant impact on your survivors.
In Saskatchewan, it is still the case that your gifts to your former spouse and appointments as Executor / Trustee remain valid.
My advice to all of my clients – update your Will and your designated beneficiaries as soon as possible upon separating or divorcing.
Share your stories with me – send me an email or follow me on Twitter at @sdobsonlawyer and send me a tweet. I want to hear from you! Find archives of my articles on our website.