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Our Guide To Protecting Your Children’s Inheritance During A Marriage Breakdown.

Our Guide to Protecting Your Children’s Inheritance During a Marriage Breakdown.

The importance of estate planning cannot be underestimated, particularly when ensuring your children’s future and security. However, when a marriage breaks down, providing for your child and their family can get complicated since only your child should receive the inheritance during a separation or divorce, and not their spouse.

Starting the estate planning process can be intimidating, but working with an Ottawa estate planning lawyer will help you understand what you need to do to secure your child’s inheritance. Many parents have left their children with a gift without considering what may happen if they unexpectedly pass away early and other similar scenarios. Sometimes, the gift is distributed among the siblings, the child’s issue, or even the child’s spouse.

Determining the Future of Your Child’s Inheritance

The intended scenario most parents have in mind is that the child receives all or part of their estate. However, if the child dies, most people aren’t sure about where the inheritance goes next. It ultimately depends on how the recipient used the funds and how they gained access to it, whether given directly or received through a trust. 

Parents can work with estate lawyers to draft a will specifying that a child’s inheritance must not form part of their net family property. However, the child’s actions with the gift can result in the protection’s loss. For example, if they decide to buy a home or transfer part of the inheritance to a joint bank account with their spouse, the inheritance becomes shareable property.

While parents can do their best to ensure proper planning, it is still equally important to discuss the inheritance’s protection with their children. That includes separating inheritances and preventing the unifying of joint assets between the child and their spouse. It is also crucial for the child to maintain detailed records on the inheritance use in case the marriage dissolves and ends in divorce.

Taking Care of Next Generation Estate Planning 

Estate planning goes beyond a parent’s child; once they become adults, they must also have their own estate planning to protect their assets. It’s important to note that a will is no longer valid upon marriage, after which it must be updated to reflect the change. However, the child can circumvent this by expressly stating in the will that it was created while contemplating the marriage. Similarly, a will’s provisions are not revoked on separation and do not favour a former spouse until a final divorce order is given.

Concerned parents may also ask their children to enter into a prenuptial agreement with their spouse to protect the inheritance and gifts they will receive. The agreement can specify that the child’s gifts and inheritance, along with the income, growth, and any property substituted, are not included in their net family property calculation if they choose to separate. That way, the child can retain what was meant to be theirs and avoid losing it to their spouse during a marriage breakdown.


Estate planning, particularly guarding your child’s inheritance, can be an incredibly challenging process without the help of an estate planning attorney. However, by having professional legal guidance, you can take careful steps to ensure that only your child receives what is rightfully theirs even in the event of a separation or divorce.

Ontario Wills is home to Ottawa estate planning lawyers who offer customized solutions to our clients’ problems. We help people protect their assets by creating a complex, professionally-structured estate plan that meets all their needs. Contact us today to find the solution that is most suitable for you.

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