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Recent Changes to Will and Estate Law in Ontario

Over the past two years, there have been many changes to estate law in Ontario. This article will discuss some of these changes and the impacts that they will have on you.


Signing Wills

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought many changes upon us. The world was incorporating technology into our everyday lives even before the pandemic, but the rise of Covid took this to a new level. In March 2021, the law changed so wills could be commissioned and signed virtually. However, there are some rules which apply to signing wills online, which include:

  • There must be two witnesses watching you sign your will

  • One of these witnesses must be a licensed lawyer or paralegal

  • You cannot sign your wills digitally – you must print them and sign them with wet ink

Wills and Separated Spouses

Many changes have come into effect regarding wills and separated spouses. These changes include:

  • Dying without a will leads your spouse to likely get a larger share of your estate. The amount of your estate that your spouse receives is called the preferential share. On Mark 1, 2021, the Ontario government increased the preferential share from $200,000 to $350,000.

  • Previously, wills were revoked after marriage. On January 1, 2022, this stopped being the case. This protected people from predatory partners who only wished to gain access to their estate

  • As of January 1, 2022, people who are separated from their spouses without a formal divorce have any gifts to their spouses revoked. However, if your will states that the separated spouse is to receive these gifts, then the gifts will not be revoked.

  • As of January 1, 2022, if you pass away with a separated spouse, the spouse will no longer inherit from your estate


The Validity of Wills

There have also been some changes to how courts decide whether a will Is valid. As of January 1, 2022, the Superior Court of Justice will be able to recognize documents that were not properly executed or made. If the court is satisfied that the document accurately represents what the deceased intended with their will, then the document can be recognized as a will in Ontario. This law will help reduce the number of wills that default to dying without a will (which is known as intestacy) due to technical errors in the documents. Despite this, it is in your best interests to make sure that your will meets all legal requirements.


How To Protect Your Estate

The new changes in Ontario can create some uncertainty about how to protect your estate. Fortunately, there are a few things which you can do.

  • Create a will. If you create a will, you will know that your estate is protected

  • Keep your will up to date, in case your wishes change over time

  • Make sure your will meets all legal requirements to make sure that it will be carried out

  • Speak to your loved ones to avoid any confusion about your wishes


Contact Us

This material is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. To book a consultation with Buzaker Law Firm regarding the changes to estate law in Ontario, contact us at: info@vblegal.ca or (905) 370-0484.

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