Without a valid will, you are considered to have died intestate with no control over the disposition of your assets.
The Ontario government employs a formula to be used when someone dies without a proper will (see chart below). If you want to find out the rules for other provinces, please let us know and we will forward the information to you.
|Spouse Only||Children Only||Spouse & One Child||Spouse & Children|
|All to spouse||All to children||1st $200,000 to spouse; rest split equally||1st $200,000 to spouse; 1/3 rest to spouse; 2/3 rest to children|
As you can see, if it is just you and your spouse, or just you and your children, the distribution of assets is quite straight forward. However, when children, step children and/or a former spouse(s) are involved things can get complicated – and the formula won’t likely follow your wishes.
A holographic or hand written will is not a great solution as problems can emerge as to its authenticity. Maybe you have or are thinking of using a standard will found in stationery stores. Although this type of will may contain handwritten portions, any preprinted parts may be ignored by the court. The result can be expensive legal bills paid by your estate.
You should also be aware that certain circumstances, including remarriage, will automatically revoke your existing will – however, if you and your spouse are separated and not yet divorced the will is still in force. Divorce will revoke any appointments of executors and trustees as well as gifts or residual claims. Clearly, there are many issues that need to be taken into consideration which is why you really need to seek legal counsel for this.
Circumstances often change and the last thing we think of is to update the will. If you currently have a valid will in place, now may be a good time to ensure it still reflects your wishes. The best, most prudent course of action is to have a proper will drafted by a lawyer who specializes in these matters.
If you don’t have a will or if it needs to be updated, I strongly encourage you to get this done as soon as you can. If you need help, I can assist you in finding a lawyer.
Thank you for your continued support in our business. As a reminder, we are here to help with any Insurance, Investment or Estate Planning questions or issues you may have.