Messy breakups can be particularly hard on common-in-law relationships, particularly when there is no Last Will and Testament in place. While several provinces offer common-law couples the same legal protections as married couples, other provinces (such as Ontario) are lacking in the same arena of legal provisions for common-in-law couples. There is the added problem if one partner has an updated Will and the other half is just blowing it off. Perhaps the common-in-law spouse isn’t properly communicating about his/her wishes, or just doesn’t see the need to update (or start) a Last Will and Testament.   In a study published by the Journal of Marriage and Family  in August of 2022, Dr. Pugliese and her colleagues found many striking differences among common-in-law couples in several provinces: several provinces have certain legal protections for common-in-law couples should their spouses pass on. There are a few provinces lacking in this area: Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Yukon and Newfoundland and Labrador do not guarantee anything if the common-in-law spouse dies. All the better to have a Last Will in place. Laws may take some time to be updated throughout every province, so a Will and other proper documentation (a Power of Attorney and a Living Will) is always good to have. A power of attorney is a legal document that allows an individual (the “principal”) to appoint another person (the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact”) to act on their behalf in financial and legal matters. A Living Will allows an individual to specify the types of medical treatment they do or do not want to receive, such as life-sustaining treatment or artificially administered nutrition and hydration. 

The study also found that 22 percent of couples in common-in-law relationships would disperse their assets to their partners, compared with 86 percent of married couples, who would leave their spouses something. Common-in-law couples may be in big trouble if they a) don’t communicate their wishes to their partners, and b) don’t have an updated Last Will and Testament. You can read more about the study, here.

Mental or personality disorders can obviously be very difficult to live with: it can make consistent employment difficult, financial independence a struggle, and the social and emotional impact lifelong. People with mental disorders can be impulsive with money, difficulty managing a budget, and trouble maintaining whatever money you do come across. This can all further impact estate planning. Estate planning typically involves creating a number of legal documents, such as a Last Will and Testament, trusts, powers of attorney, and healthcare directives, but Estate planning is also the process of organizing and managing your assets during your lifetime and determining how they will be distributed after your death. It involves making decisions about things like who will inherit your assets, who will manage your affairs if you become incapacitated, and how your assets will be used to provide for your loved ones. These documents allow you to specify your wishes and appoint individuals to carry out your instructions.

Can personality disorders affect how you can plan for your estate? Obviously if you’re suffering from any type of major mental disorder it can affect your mental stability, your finances, and  your entire life. That is why a new approach to estate planning may be different for individuals with these types of individuals: a consistent failure to modify one’s behaviour is a chronic problem when it comes to estate planning. When it comes to estate planning: due diligence, proper organization and financial management are all necessary. Estate Planners who have clients with disorders may find themselves frustrated if their clients are not taking their advice. It may not be the most fun topic to discuss, but this rarely discussed topic is an important and sensitive one: how do estate-planners deal with clients who have mental or intellectual disorders? Here’s a concise article on how estate-planners can handle this: Estate-planning and disorders.  

Naomi Judd was a famous American singer who passed away in 2022. She and her daughter, Wynonna, formed a very successful country band. Over time, Naomi battled with mental health issues and physical issues with hepatitis. Her daughter, Wynonna, enjoyed success both as a team with her mother and a solo artist after her mother was diagnosed with hepatitis. Ashley, Wynonna’s sister, has enjoyed success in her own right as a famous actress. She is also involved in humanitarian and global affairs. Both Ashley and Wynnona Judd  have a hefty combined net worth, given the success of their careers. 

Ashley and Wynnona Judd can more than manage their lives and finances on their own, but having a mother with multiple illnesses can no doubt be difficult. 

Naomi’s troubles came to end after the police found her with a self-inflicted gunshot wound in April of 2022. The sisters were both blind sighted by the fact that the pair were both seemingly disinherited from their mother’s Last Will and Testament. Instead, their deceased mother left behind her $25 million dollar fortune to her ex-husband, Larry Strickland. After the shock of this revelation wore off, the two hired a writing expert to analyze the writing in their mother’s Last Will and Testament. A handwriting expert by the name of Peggy Walla, (from Texas-based LPR Investigations) was brought in to analyze the deceased singer’s Last Will. Walla discovered that “The initials and signature are traced — they are not written by her. Usually when you are signing your name – the pen is already in motion when it starts to hit the paper and it gives it a feathered look where these are intentional ‘starts and stops.’” In other words, Walla is suggesting that Naomi’s 5-page Will was forged. If the Will was forged, what does Naomi’s ex-husband have to say about the matter? As of December 2022, there has been no conclusion to this issue as of yet. You can read more here


An ethical Will. It sounds something green, right? Something eco-friendly? A Will that you would write up to leave behind for environmental charities or something? A Last Will and Testament is a document that directs how property shall be distributed upon a deceased person’s death. But what are ethical Wills? 

An ethical Will, also known as a legacy letter or values statement, is a type of document that allows individuals to share their values, beliefs, and life lessons with their loved ones.

These types of Wills can be written at any time and do not have to be created as part of an estate plan. They can be as long or short as the individual desires and can cover a wide range of topics, including family history, personal values, goals, and achievements, as well as any messages or advice the individual wishes to share.

These documents can be a powerful way for individuals to reflect on their lives and share their insights and experiences with their loved ones. They can also serve as a valuable source of inspiration and guidance for future generations. These are personal documents that you can included alongside your Last Will. 

Here are five ways on how to write ethical Wills: 

  1. Are you communicating to your loved ones through either video or written format?
  2. What do you want to include in your document? What values, messages do you want to pass down to your loved ones?
  3. Have an outline as to what you want to include in  your letter/document before starting.
  4. Try starting this around the same time you do your Last Will and Testament.     

Find more about ethical Wills, here.