Dying Without a Will

Dec 14, 2018 | Melissa Clark


According to a recent poll, more than 51% of Canadians do not have a will.  If you die without a Will, the law says that you have died “intestate,” which means that you left no instructions as to how your property is to be divided and distributed. In these circumstances, the Ontario Succession Law Reform Act governs how your property will be distributed to your surviving relatives.

Here are some of the considerations:

  • No Control Over Who Manages Your Estate – The courts will appoint someone to manage and distribute your estate – and they may not choose the person you would have selected;

  • Your Loved Ones will have to wait for their Inheritance – Without a Will, there would be significant delays when it comes to distributing your assets;

  • More Taxes, More Fees – Extra legal fees will be required to settle your estate.  What’s more, you will have missed the opportunity to set up tax-efficient ways to pass your assets to your beneficiaries;

  • Who Takes Care of the Kids? – Without a Will in place, you won’t have a say in who becomes the guardian of your minor children.

  • If You’re Married –Your spouse inherits the entire estate if you have no children; even if you have children, your spouse may inherit everything, or the first $200,000 of your assets and the remainder is split equally among your family. If you don’t have a spouse or children, it is distributed to other relatives.

  • If you have a Common-Law Spouse – Common law spouses are not treated the same as married spouses under the law and do not automatically have the same property rights. In Ontario, if a common law spouse dies intestate, the surviving spouse will not inherit any part of the estate. They are completely omitted. However, depending on the facts and circumstances, a surviving common law spouse can file a claim against the estate.

If you don’t have a will or if you haven’t updated your will in the past 10 years, ask for a copy of our “Wills and Will Planning Guide Book”.