WHAT IS A WILL?
Most people have heard of a Will, or Last Will and Testament. Generally a will is simply a means of control over your possessions and belongings after you have passed away. It can be used to ensure that your family is properly provided for, or to ensure that the people you dislike are not. It provides a degree of comfort knowing that you have put down your thoughts and wishes in a document which, above all else, must be listened to after death. Some people believe that it is the ultimate last word. After all, who is going to interrupt you?
Realistically though, your Will is simply your final written notice to the world about your intentions concerning your property and how you want it dealt with. It can be as simple or as complicated as your specific needs require. It is extremely important for anyone who has specific intentions regarding how they want their property dealt with. If you die without a Will, someone else will make the decisions and may well do so without any regard to what you might have wanted.
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Common law couples dying without a Will
Another important difference between married and unmarried spouses in Ontario is that only married spouses have a right to share in the estate of their spouse if their spouse dies without a will. This is called intestate succession, where the law specifically provides for how an estate will be divided between family members if someone dies without a will. It does not matter what the deceased would have wanted – the estate is divided based on the lines of succession set out by the legislation.
Common law couples are not included in intestate succession rights, no matter how long their relationship has lasted, no matter how many children they may have together, and no matter how “traditional” or “marriage-like” their relationship has been.
Common law spouses can ensure that their spouse receives part or all of their estate on death by having a valid will that provides for this. A common law spouse will only be excluded from sharing in the estate if their spouse dies without a valid will that makes provision for them. This is why it is very important for common law spouses to ensure that they have an up to date and valid will in place.
Planning for the future can be difficult, but it is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones. We understand the challenges you face, and we will guide you through this process so you know what to expect and that your best interests are protected. Our commitment to personal attention and responsive service is why other legal professionals consider our firm to be one of the top law firms in Ottawa.
Let our team help you learn about how your choices will impact the future so together we can create a plan that works for you and your family. Schedule a consultation with our lawyers by calling 613-820-8888