We’ve written before about what could happen if your will is lost or destroyed, but what happens if you don’t have a will?
If you die without a will, your estate will be divided according to intestacy laws. In Ontario, the Succession Law Reform Act governs how your property will be distributed if you die without a will.
Intestacy laws are complex, and there are a number of different possible outcomes for how your estate could be distributed, depending on a number of different factors. Here are a few basic things to keep in mind:
At the time of your death, IF
- You have a spouse, but no children your spouse will inherit everything. It’s important to note that this only applies to legally married spouses. A common-law spouse will not automatically receive anything if you were to die without a will.
- You have a children but no spouse, your children will inherit equal shares of your estate.
- You have a spouse and children, your spouse will first be entitled to what’s called a preferential share of the estate – up to $200,000 worth of your assets. What is left over after that is called the residue. The residue will divided between your spouse and your children. If there is only one child, your spouse and your child will divide the residue equally. If there is more than one child, your spouse will receive one-third of the residue with the remainder shared equally between all children.
- You have no spouse and no children your parents will inherit your estate
- You have no spouse, children, or parents your estate will be divided between your siblings
- You have no spouse, children, parents, or siblings: Your estate will be divided equally between your nieces and nephews
- You have no spouse, children, parents, siblings, or nieces and nephews: All remaining next of kin shall inherit an equal share of your estate.
If you die with no living next of kin at all, your estate will go to the Ontario government.
It is estimated that 65% of Canadians don’t have a will. Dying without a will can create problems. In addition to your estate being divided by the law and not according to what you may have wished, there will be extra delays and expenses in determining how the estate is to be divided.
If a family member has died ‘intestate’ (without a will) in Ontario, we can assist and guide you through that process.
The Wills and Estates lawyers at Daniel & Partners LLP provide a full range of estate law services. We can also draft your will and powers of attorney to ensure that your wishes are followed after your death and your loved ones are taken care of.
If you need to make or update your Will or powers of attorney, call the offices at Daniel & Partners today.
Blog post written by Karen Shedden, NCA Candidate.