Major Changes to Ontario’s Wills and Estate Laws

In our last newsletter we discussed some major changes coming to in Ontario’s estate law. These changes are now effective as of January 1, 2022. 

As these changes are significant and have the potential to impact all of us, we would like to review the highlights with you now. 

1. Eliminating revocation by marriage

Previously marriage would automatically revoke existing wills thus making predatory marriages easier. 

This is no longer the case. Now with the change, the will you executed prior to your marriage is still valid. That being said, marriage is a major event which should always trigger at minimum a review of your estate planning documents, as it is more than likely they would no longer reflect your intentions.  

 

2. Treating separated spouses like divorced spouses

Under Section 17(2) of the Succession Law Reform Act (“SLRA”) when a divorce occurs all any assets or appointment given to the former spouse in the will are revoked automatically. This would include any gifts or bequests and appointments of executor or power of attorney. 

This change makes it so this same rule also applies to separated spouses at the time of the testator’s death. The SLRA also eliminates a separated spouse’s entitlements if the deceased dies without a will. 

Please note that the SLRA defines precisely what “separated” means in this context. It may not be the same meaning than the one you think of.

 

3. Moving from strict compliance to substantial compliance

Ontario now applies substantial compliance. This essentially means that now, if a will clearly sets out the intentions of the deceased, the court may, on application, order that the document is valid and fully effective, even if it might not be formally valid. This still remains to be seen exactly how courts will interpret the new rules.

Regardless of this change, it is certainly better to be sure that your will is formally valid in order to avoid any headaches or uncertainty for you or your loved ones down the road. 

Please feel free to contact us for any further information.

 

Disclaimer: the information provided is for general informational purposes only. All information is provided in good faith; however, we make no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability or completeness of any information provided.

Please consult a lawyer and/or an accountant for any legal and/or tax advice.