Where a deceased person has not left a Will, an intestacy occurs. The problems that arise in these circumstances are immediate and can be crucial to family and loved ones who are left behind. In Ontario, the Succession Law Reform Act (the SLRA) applies to determine how the estate left by the deceased person will be identified and distributed. When a person dies without a Will, called “intestate”, the SLRA sets out how the estate is distributed. The formula that applies is quite particular and takes a “family tree” approach to the identification and rights of surviving family members.
According to the SLRA, the first $350,000 is given to the deceased person’s spouse unless the spouse has made an election under the Family Law Act.. From there, the balance of the estate, if it exceeds $350,000, will be shared between the surviving spouse and descendants of the deceased person, subject to the rules which apply. These issues can of course be avoided in the main by the careful preparation and execution of a valid Will. Our Wills and Estates Group can assist with that.
The rules which are set out in the SLRA, are complicated, and the application of the rules and the common law to specific facts can be challenging. Professional advice in these circumstances is strongly recommended. Where disagreements in an intestacy occur, if an out of court solution is available, we have the experience to find it. If litigation is required, we have the team to provide efficient and cost conscious representation.