FROM THE LAWYERS DAILY: Navigating Wills & Estates with common-law partners

This week, our own Timothy Sullivan’s first piece for The Lawyers Weekly covers how lawyers can more successfully manage the sometimes tense situations that arise when common-law partners approach the Wills & Estates process.

In the past 10 years, the number of common law couples in Canada has grown at something like four times the rate of married couples. And while it’s not surprising to lawyers that common law relationships are not the same as marriage, it can still be surprising to “normal” people.

When it comes to working with a lawyer to draft a will and estate plan, common law couples can bring unique challenges to the table. Anticipating, explaining and addressing these will help both you and your clients through the process with as little misunderstanding between you and as little conflict between the client and family as possible.

Why a will matters so much for common law couples

Common law partners, even those in very long-term relationships, don’t always understand that when one spouse dies intestate, they are not accorded the same rights as a married spouse. In Ontario, for example, a widowed, married spouse receives a $200,000 preferential share and, as closest relative, the likely appointment as an estate trustee — none of which applies to a  common law partner. Ensuring that common law couples understand exactly why it’s so important they make wills is really the first — and possibly most difficult — challenge for lawyers.  

To read the rest of the article, please visit The Lawyers Daily.