The Sunday Magazine

Family feuds over wills and estates

The stories are legion.   Someone dies and an unholy war erupts in the family over who gets how much of the estate. It might be adult children doing battle with a step-parent. An absentee brother or sister may come out of hiding to claim a piece of the financial pie. Or the spoils of a will could become a spark...
The stories are legion.   

Someone dies and an unholy war erupts in the family over who gets how much of the estate. It might be adult children doing battle with a step-parent. An absentee brother or sister may come out of hiding to claim a piece of the financial pie. Or the spoils of a will could become a spark that ignites adult sibling rivalry.

There is far more at stake now than ever before. According to a study published this year, about one trillion dollars will change hands in this country over the next two decades. This has been identified as the biggest inter-generational transfer of wealth in Canadian history. 

The same study revealed that those who stand to gain the most - baby boomers - are counting on a generous inheritance to help them pay their debts and meet their financial goals.

We invited two people who have been dealing with the implications. Jan Goddard is a lawyer with more than two decades of experience in the area of trusts and estates. She is a Distinguished Fellow of the Canadian Centre for Elder Law. She is also the founder of the Toronto firm Goddard Gamage Stephens LLP.

Laura Tamblyn Watts is a Senior Fellow - and former National Director - of the Canadian Centre for Elder Law in British Columbia. She is currently pursuing her doctorate and teaching on the law and ageing at the University of Toronto.

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