One thing is clear, whether one has a will or no will, the farm can be destroyed. (No will can destroy the farm, January 11 Grainews, page 40) If a person dies without a will — intestate — the Intestate Act is there to protect the children’s interests. Or does it? If there is an uncaring executor or executrix and an unscrupulous step parent (often a stepfather), then the Act does not protect the children from losing their rightful inheritance or a share of the farm.
A will can be badly written even by a lawyer. More importantly, Grainews readers should know that a will can be contested and proofs of the writer’s intent presented if contrary to the written will. It will cost money. A will that leaves half the estate to the minor children can also be contested by the surviving spouse, claiming all of it and then doing as they wish with the estate. Minor children are not protected under the law.
I am in favour of spouses leaving a portion of their estate to their children. Today, the norm is to write a will leaving all worldly possessions to the spouse or partner. The courts have to start honouring the will and upholding the deceased’s wishes by not yielding to the cries and pleading of the surviving spouse demanding the entire estate. There are just too many devious people in the world.
Times have changed. I believe a wedding couple should sign a pre-nuptial agreement if there is any property forming even a small estate. A will should state how that property should be dispersed at time of death. It must be honoured. Fathers particularly should provide for their children in their will, especially the minor children.
A lawyer told me that a spouse can undo a will according to today’s courts. From personal experience, I also know that the Intestate Act means little. My sisters and I lost our portion of our father’s estate. We were defrauded. I have been told that the rights of the second family supercede those of the first family. In other words, it can happen that the farm can be wrenched out of the hands of the first family and be destroyed.
A will is important. But do not believe for a minute that your spouse will protect your children and their interests.
Edna Mackenzie Pincher Creek, Alta.