Dear Barb—Will Worries

Dear Barb:

Hi.  My mom passed away four years ago and my dad remarried.  Dad always said that he had an agreement with his new wife that his assets would be left to his three children.  Dad died suddenly, last month and we have yet to hear anything about the will or any agreement that Dad and Kathy may have had.  We all noticed at Dad’s funeral that Kathy was distant towards us.  She has not invited us to the house, and we do not know what she has done with Dad’s stuff. 

What would be the best way for us to approach Kathy?  We don’t want to make her angry, but we want what is rightfully ours.  They had only been married for two years, it doesn’t seem right that she would inherit the house that my parents bought and paid for.  We need some guidance.  Thank you, Yvonne. 

Hello Yvonne:

So sorry about your loss.  Things often get complicated with second marriages, unless there is a prenuptial agreement where the person’s wishes are clearly stated.  The first thing you need to do is talk to Kathy.  Find out if there was a will.  If she refuses to talk to you there are ways you can search for a will.  The first place to search is the Vital Statistics Wills Registry for a Wills Notice.  This can take several weeks and will tell you if a Will has been filed, but it does not contain a copy of the will.  This is a good starting point.  If there is a will you can contact your father’s lawyer or accountant to find out more information.  Although if you were included in the will I believe you would have been contacted by now.  Without a will, it is up to the court to decide what happens to a person’s assets.  Dying without a will is called “dying intestate,” and when this happens, nobody will have any say over who gets the estate.  You are in a difficult position and sorry to say you do not have a lot of options.  For this reason, people need to have a will.  Plus, without a will, a person’s assets could end up tied up in bureaucracy for a very long time.  The assets will be distributed according to the laws of the province.  For example, if you live in Ontario, the first $200,000 usually goes to the spouse or can also be claimed by someone who was financially dependent on the deceased, and things get more complicated if there was over $200,000.

Hope this information will be helpful.  Best of luck in the future Yvonne.

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