Although secondary wills for joint accounts is one manner to save on probate fees, it isn’t an ideal one in all circumstances, says Pamela Cross, a partner with the Ottawa office of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP and regional leader of the firm’s Tax Group.

'Joint tenancies are not the best option for really wealthy people because there is lots of really interesting estate planning that can save a lot of tax,' Cross says. 'You can set up trusts under your will that end of saving tens of thousands of dollars a year in taxes, which quickly exceeds the amount of probate saved by trying to keep it out of a will.'

But, Cross says, what concerns her is the lingering confusion caused by the Supreme Court of Canada’s Pecore decision — a ruling she believes is responsible for creating a third scenario for joint accounts. And, she says, this confusion isn’t likely to pass soon.

'I think it will take another couple of cases to decide how the courts interpret it,' Cross says.