- Why is it important to have a Will?
If at the time of your death, you do not have a Will, your estate will be distributed according to Ontario's intestate succession law. A person who dies without a Will dies "intestate".
Under Ontario law, the person appointed to administer your estate may be decided arbitrarily and may not be the person that you would have chosen immediately after your death. Furthermore, your affairs cannot be dealt with until the Court has appointed someone to be the Estate Trustee.
Without a Will, your estate is divided into shares in accordance with Ontario law rather than in accordance with your wishes. Some of the consequences of not having a Will may be as follows:
- Relatives who you do not want to inherit may receive a share of your estate;
- Your estate will likely have to cover the cost of an Estate Trustee's bond (a premium must be paid to an insurance company);
- Only your married spouse and children who are related by blood will receive anything from your Estate and step-children receive nothing;
- If you have no spouse or children your parents will inherit your estate;
- If you are separated, but not divorced and have not signed a separation
agreement, your separated spouse will inherit from you;
- A common law spouse will get nothing, other than support, but only if she or he was entitled to it at the time of your death;
- If a court approves the request for support, a same sex partner will get nothing;
- The shares of children under the age of 18 will have to be held and managed by the Public Guardian and Trustee and the shares will be turned over to them when they reach 18, regardless of their ability to handle such assets; and
- If you do not have any living relatives or if none can be found, your estate will go to the government.
Young or old, it is important to have a will to protect yourself and your family.
Common reasons for having a Will include:
- To create trust provisions for family members, such as children or spouses;
- To ensure your assets are transferred upon death to those whom you wish to benefit;
- To avoid statutory provisions such as the Family Law Act and Succession Law Reform Act that may arbitrarily redistribute the division of your assets;
- To give to charity;
- To ensure items with special significance are given to those intended;
- To avoid conflict and litigation;
- To place the administration and control of your estate in the hands of someone you trust;
- To save or defer the payment of taxes;
- If you have no heirs or family on death, to avoid your assets going to the government; and
- To have peace of mind.
If you would like to speak to me about drafting your will, I encourage you to contact me at 519.946.3125, ext. 13 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
**The material on this page is NOT legal advice and does not create a solicitor-client or any other relationship between the reader and Margaret A. Vicente, Barrister & Solicitor. Readers should contact a lawyer to obtain legal advice applicable to their particular situation.