Marriage and Wills

Today is my sister-in-law’s wedding so today’s theme will be marriage!

In Ontario, estates law generally gives little respect to unmarried spouses (including common-law). They have few rights and are not included in the distribution of an estate where there is no will. However, they may be able to make a claim against an estate as a dependant, but that is not a simple process.

If you have an existing will and you then get married, the law automatically revokes the will [EDIT: As of January 1, 2022, this is no longer the law – marriage no longer automatically revokes a will].

Divorce does NOT revoke a will. Instead, the law automatically cuts the old spouse out. Any appointment of them as executor is nullified, as is any gifts to them in your will, and the will is read as if they died before you.

Beneficiary designations on plans like RRSPs, TFSAs, and life insurance are often overlooked on divorce. If a designation was made outside a will, marriage or divorce will likely be found not to affect that designation. So if you have gotten married or divorced lately, double check those designations!

If in doubt, call me!

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