Predatory Marriage II

I have written about the legal effects of predatory marriages, and the concerns that arise in relation to the relative ease with which such marriages are held to be valid. Some have made important suggestions as to how to counter the predator.

One suggestion is to change any law that holds that a subsequent marriage automatically revokes a prior will. This is the case in the Province of Alberta and also in most U.S. jurisdictions. A problem in Ontario is legislation that treats the exclusion of a spouse under a will as an act of divorce. Still, for a short, predatory marriage, the amount receivable would generally be smaller than what would be received if the predatory spouse were given priority claims against the estate.

Another angle for the predatory spouse is to claim as a dependant of the estate, and to void any provisions of a will on that basis. Again, for a short, predatory marriage, it would seem less likely that a dependancy claim would succeed, or would involve much by way of payment, once the predatory nature of the relationship was established.

The real concern remains in those jurisdictions, such as Ontario, where marriage automatically revokes a prior will. A related issue is whether a will is revoked in those jurisdictions which recognize common law relationships as being equivalent to marriage. All of this leading to greater concerns that any revocation of a will must be by way of explicit act of revocation, rather than by subsequent actions, such as marriage, that do not directly address such prior will.

The person who spoke on this recently at the Law Society of Upper Canada was Professor Emeritus Albert Oosterhoff. The issue has been of serious concern to a number of leading estate pracitioners. Here is a 2010 article on predatory marriages, by the Hull & Hull law firm, which focuses on estate matters. Here is a 2011 article by one of the leading practitioners in the area, Kimberly Whaley.

Now, all that is needed is legislative change. Too easy to slip:

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About brucelarochelle

Practising Lawyer and Part-Time University Instructor (Accounting, Commercial Law, Organizational Behaviour); Part-Time Federal Tribunal Member. Non-practising Chartered Professional Accountant (Chartered Accountant and Certified Management Accountant).
This entry was posted in Estates, Family Law, Wills. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Predatory Marriage II

  1. Older men have this wish fantasy that beautiful young women find them terribly attractive, for whatever reason. Somehow, experience and urbane charm make up for wrinkles and failing bodies. You see this in the movies made by old, rich actors who become movie directors (Sean Connery and Clint Eastwood come to mind right away).

    Probably the best and most attractive quality of these old men – to a certain kind of woman – is that they have money and are willing to spend it to demonstrate their “love”, or misplaced hope. And if they are really old, another quality might be that they can’t live forever, and the woman will get it all, sooner rather than later.

    It’s really rather pathetic. This patheticness is especially evident in the belief that it doesn’t go both ways. Of course (?!) old men are immensely attractive to beautiful young women, but old wrinkled women hold no attraction to handsome young men(!?); though one of the most moving films I ever saw was a 1980s Israeli flick about a young male painter who became obsessed with drawing an old woman, even when his very beautiful young girlfriend threatened to leave him, because he paid more attention to the old woman than to her.

    Yet I entirely disagree that there should be legislation to protect men from their own stupidity and gullibility. We already live in a Nanny state. We don’t need more ways to limit individual freedom, even if it generates more income for lawyers. Caviat emptor: let the buyer beware. Let fools be fools. We are all fools from time to time. How else do people learn, other than by making mistakes and being motivated by consequences? Perhaps we should legislate against learning as well. If we could eliminate learning, there would be no change, no damaging consequences, and none of us would be the wiser, because there would be no opportunity to learn that we were unhappy with our lives. We could return to the Garden of Eden, pre-snake.

  2. The issues here relate more to older men and women of diminished mental capacity, whose incapacities are taken advantage of by the predator, in order to become the predatory spouse. There is more than mentally competent foolhardiness involved.

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