In Ontario, if you die without a will your property is distributed in accordance with intestacy rules set out in Part II of the Succession Law Reform Act (Ontario) (the “SLRA”).
Under the SLRA rules, who gets your property after you die depends on whether you’re married and how many children you have.
MARRIED WITHOUT CHILDREN
If you’re legally married and have no children your estate goes to your spouse. It is important to note that this happens even if you’re separated from your spouse but have not had a divorce.
MARRIED WITH CHILDREN
If you’re legally married and have children, the SLRA states that the firs two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000.00) is paid to the spouse. If your estate is worth less than $200,000, then your entire estate is paid to your spouse. If the estate is worth more than $200,000, then the first $200,000 is paid to your spouse and the balance is divided equally between your spouse and your children.
NOT MARRIED OR LEGALLY DIVORCED WITH CHILDREN
If you do not have a spouse, at death your estate is divided equally amongst your children.
NOT MARRIED AND NO CHILDREN
If you’re not married and you do not have any children, your estate will be divided amongst your closest relatives. If you have no relates, your estate will go to the Ontario government.
The intestacy rules only apply to legally married couples and biological and adopted children. The intestacy rules do not give anything to a common law partner or stepchildren which have not been legally adopted by you. In addition, if you die without a will and part of your estate is to go to minors, then that part of the estate may end up being managed by the government for the benefit of the minors until such time as the minors reach an age of majority.
BENEFITS OF HAVING A WILL
If you’re read this far, you’re likely asking the question whether the deficiencies identified above can be eliminated or minimized with a proper will. The answer is “yes”. A proper will allows you to specify your beneficiaries and to give to those beneficiaries (generally) as you see fit. For example, most legally married spouses prefer to give the entirety of their estate to their surviving spouse on their death and to trust the surviving spouse to take care of the children that the couple has together. In addition, a properly drafted will allows you to make provisions to appoint a trustee to manage money on behalf of your children in a manner in which you believe would best serve your children. This provides you with a lot more flexibility in ensuring that your children are properly taken care of.
HOW CAN WE HELP
Beganyi Professional Corporation would be happy to assist you in preparing a will that best provides for your loved ones after your death. If you have any questions about estate planning or getting a will written, feel free to visit us online at Beganyi Professional Corporation or call us at 647-977-7749 to schedule an initial consultation.