Today’s blog is being brought to you by guest blogger, Jennifer Campbell, a law clerk in the Private Client Services group of Fasken LLP.
Disney child star Cameron Boyce, who is best known for his role in movies such as “Grown Ups” and “Grown Ups 2” as well as his role in the Disney Channel movie, “Descendants” and the television show, “Jessie”, died suddenly and tragically on July 6, 2019. He was just 20 years of age. At the time of his death, Cameron was said to have had an estimated net worth of $5M.
Many blogs and papers have been written over the years discussing intestacy rules, but Cameron’s passing raises a question that doesn’t get addressed nearly enough – when is it too early to start thinking about estate planning for young adults? Depending on the family circumstances, perhaps that discussion should start when an individual family member turns 18 years of age. Others may wait until a major life event occurs, such as purchasing a home, getting married, having a child or coming into a large sum of money from an inheritance.
It is important to remember that a good estate plan can assist loved ones in handling estate matters during a difficult time, particularly when the passing is sudden and unexpected, as is the case with Cameron. In particular, when there is no will, something that seems so simple, such as transferring or disposing of a vehicle, dealing with social media and other online accounts, subscriptions and memberships, cancelling cell phone plans, dealing with leases on rental properties, collecting final pay cheques and finalizing tax related matters, will cause difficulty without first applying for a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee without a Will. The same would apply for dealing with bank accounts.
Let’s assume that Cameron died in Ontario and without a will. We know he was not married and did not have any children, therefore under Part II of the Succession Law Reform Act, Cameron’s parents would be entitled to share in his estate jointly. They would be required to apply for a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee without a Will in order to administer his estate and deal with his assets. What would happen if his parents didn’t get along or one of them lived outside of Ontario? Many issues, such as these, need to be addressed when dealing with an intestacy, and all at a time when parents and extended family have unexpectantly and unbelievably lost a loved one.
We may never know whether any arrangements had been made to ensure Cameron had a Will when he turned 18 or at any time before his death and we likely won’t hear what will happen with Cameron’s estate. What we do know is that Cameron’s family has decided to honour his memory by launching a foundation which is aimed at providing young people with creative outlets as alternatives to violence and to use resources and philanthropy to affect positive change in the world.
While I suspect that many young people don’t want to think about what will happen if they were to die at such a young age, my hope is that we can end that stigma and assist young adults in our lives to ensure that they have a proper estate plan in place for that dreaded “just in case” situation.
In the words so beautifully sung by Bob Dylan and Rod Stewart, “may you stay forever young”.