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Estate beneficiary advice: Keeping assets from kids' ex-spouses

Parents who have accumulated a sizable amount of wealth over their lives will likely want to pass their assets on to their children when they pass away. But when an adult child's marriage goes sideways and ends in divorce, those parents may want to ensure that none of their assets go to the estranged partner. Some solid estate beneficiary advice for Ontario residents when it comes to this type of issue is to make safeguards in a will.

Also, should parents wish to provide a loan for a downpayment on a home, they could do so with a promissory note that stipulates if the couple splits up, the money must be paid back in full. If the marriage lasts, the loan can be forgiven. There are other issues, too, that may need looking into. For instance, parents who provide their kids with money each year to help them with their family needs may want to know that a former spouse could bring a claim against these funds. These kinds of dependency claims could be averted by having the parents stagger the funds or set up a discretionary trust in the adult child's name.

Another prudent move would be to have married couples have individual bank accounts. Parents could deposit funds into their child's account, which wouldn't be accessible to an estranged partner. Under family law in Ontario, these monies are looked upon like an inheritance and so don't figure into the divorce scenario of assets that should be shared.

These are the types of situations that would benefit from estate beneficiary advice. An Ontario lawyer may be able to enlighten his or her client in a similar situation. When a parent is charitable enough to help a child financially in this way, it is important to safeguard the child's interests, even when the child is an adult.

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