Separating from your spouse? Avoid unintended consequences – Update your will.
Unfortunately, not all marriages last. That is just an unfortunate fact of life. This is a stressful time. You may be worrying about finances, the impact on children, division of property. The last thing you probably want to think about is your will. However, it is very important that you least consider updating your will.
In Ontario, until there is a formal divorce order from the court, your status remains as “married”. Your spouse continues to be your spouse for various legal purposes. This includes the Succession Law Reform Act. Under this act, if you do not have a will your spouse will be entitled to the first $200,000 of assets in the estate, and will split the balance equally among your children. If there are no children, your spouse will be entitled to all of your assets. For most separating people, this is not an acceptable outcome.
When you make a will, you override this distribution.
Your spouse may have other rights to equalization of property, and support as a dependent, that will exist whether or not you have a will. That – you need to discuss with a family lawyer.
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