Intestate Succession

Intestate simply means dying without a will or without a fully completed will. All provinces across Canada have passed legislation determining the division of a deceased’s assets if there is no testamentary direction on how to do so.

When Does an Intestacy Arise?

A full or complete intestacy arises when the deceased party does not leave behind a will. A partial intestacy occurs when a will is left behind. However, it does not effectively dispose of all of the assets.

In a partial intestacy like those listed above, the legislation determining intestacies will determine the distribution of the balance of the estate.

Ontario Intestacy Laws

Ontario estates are governed mainly by the Succession Law Reform Act (“SLRA”), and with some specific exceptions, deals with full and partial intestacy similarly. Like other provinces, Ontario determines what happens with a deceased’s assets in order of relationship. What constitutes a “spouse” under the SLRA is of note. While common-law spouses have gained increased rights in various family law legislation, a common-law spouse is not entitled to a share of the estate in estates. The intestacy clauses will only apply to lawfully married spouses. Further, updates to the SLRA have now established that married spouses who have separated from the deceased at the time of their deaths no longer share in any part of the estate. Further, “children” have been defined as legal children, meaning that adopted as well as biological children fall into this category.

Order of Inheritance

The Process of Administering an Intestacy

Intestate succession can have significant financial implications, often making it more complicated than a succession with a will. Banks, Service Ontario, and various other institutions accept a properly drafted will as proof of executorship. However, to prove executorship in an intestacy, the executor must apply to their local estate court, a process that requires an estate administration tax if the estate is valued at over $50,000.00. A will may also require confirmation by the court through an Application, especially when real estate is involved. Yet, obtaining the certificate is usually a more straightforward process. This financial complexity underscores the need for careful financial planning in such matters.

Further, an Application to act as an intestate executor may require that a bond be posted to protect the estate from fraud. Even if they go through the Application process, most wills will have a clause dispensing with the need to post any sort of bond by the executor.

The Benefits of Having a Will

Intestate succession can often lead to family disputes and misunderstandings, making it crucial to express all final wishes in a will.

A common saying in the practice of estates is that making a will causes you a small headache to avoid a bigger one for your heirs.

This blog post does not constitute legal advice and was written solely to provide information. If you would like to consult with a lawyer about the issues raised in this post, please contact Empel Law Professional Corporation at 416-500-1937.

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