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You should only have one original of each will that deals with any given asset.  However, it is not uncommon to have more than one will, with the different wills dealing with different assets.  This technique is particularly useful for:

  • Reducing probate taxes. For instance, some assets, such as shares in a private company, often do not require probate and yet can be very valuable.  If these assets are dealt with in one will that is not probated, the other assets (for instance real estate) that do require probate can be dealt with in another will.  Probate taxes are only payable on the value of the assets covered by the will that is probated.

 

  • Dealing with assets in another jurisdiction. For instance, if you own property in Ontario and property in Florida, it is quite possible that it would be best to have two separate wills.  You may even have two separate executors.  This may make getting probate in each jurisdiction and administration of each estate simpler (and perhaps save money).

 

Obviously, it requires some finesse to properly draft multiple wills.  In particular, it is very important to make it very clear which will deals with which assets, to make sure that all assets are dealt with, that the overall disposition of the estate to beneficiaries meets your intentions, to ensure that each will is valid and enforceable in the jurisdiction where it applies (no point following Ontario law for a will that will govern assets in Greece) and to ensure that one will does not revoke the other(s).

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