Dying Without a Will
Monday, June 12th, 2017
We understand that everyone has a busy life and getting a Will in place may not be top of mind. However, not planning for your affairs in case of death could have undesirable implications and will definitely impact your loved ones.
Dying “intestate” (without a Will) means that you have not left any instructions regarding your final wishes as to the choice of your estate trustee, your beneficiaries (who gets your assets), the distribution of your assets (how and when), the legal guardian for your children and much more. Generally, dying without a Will in Ontario means that your provincial government will decide how your assets will be divided. The process of distributing your estate properties may also become cumbersome and expensive.
The following defaults will take place if you die intestate:
If you have a married spouse:
By default in Ontario, the first $200,000 of your estate will go to your married spouse. Amounts over that threshold are shared between your spouse and children (or grandchildren) based on specific sets of rules in place. If you do not have any children, your entire estate would default to your married spouse.
However, if you are living common law, your spouse may not receive anything.
If you do not have a married spouse:
The estate by default would go to any children you may have. However, if you do not have children then the rules contained in Ontario’s “Succession Law Reform Act” indicate that your estate will go to your next of kin, by proximity of blood relation. In that situation, property would go first to your parents, if alive, and if not, then to your surviving brothers and sisters or their issue, if any, and so on. Where there are no surviving kin, your assets would become the property of the Government of Ontario.
Dying without a Will has many implications that may not align with your final wishes. Further, the tax implications, legal fees and accounting fees could be significant if not well planned. In order to have control over what happens with your estate, it is important to have a Will in place.
You should contact your lawyer and your tax specialist soon if you do not have a Will. S+C Partners can assist on the tax implications of distributing your assets.