Estates & Trusts Legal News: Separation, Divorce, And Estate Planning

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Introduction - Estate planning becomes critically important when a couple is going through a separation or a divorce. It is imperative that both parties take immediate steps to change their Wills and Powers of Attorney, in addition to beneficiary designations on their life insurance policies, pensions, and registered plans. For if one party dies after a separation, and the deceased party has failed to amend his or her estate plan before their death in accordance with their new separated status – they are likely to roll over in their grave at what may occur as a result of their oversight.

Makarchuk v. Makarchuk - Mr. and Mrs. Makarchuk were separated, but not divorced. Six months before they separated, Mr. Makarchuk made a Will appointing his wife as his executor and the sole beneficiary of his estate. Subsequent to their separation, Mr. and Mrs. Makarchuk entered into a separation agreement that provided “subject to any additional gifts from one of the [spouses] to the other in any Will validly made after the date of this agreement” the spouses both released any rights they may acquire “under the laws of any jurisdiction in the estate of the other…”

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