At Regalway Homes, we help people looking to invest in property or develop property in order to increase income. One of the questions we are often asked is “What happens to my property if I don’t have a will?” While we don’t claim to be experts in the area, here are the results of our research and our experience.
A recent poll revealed that 51% of Canadians don’t have any kind of written last will or testament. This means half of Canadians have no idea what will happen to their property when they die. When asked why they don’t have a written will, people gave the following answers:
I’m too young to be concerned about it
Getting a will written is too expensive
Getting a will written takes too much time
I don’t have assets to be concerned about
I don’t want to think about death
Also referred to as dying ‘intestate’, dying without a will means that you have left no guidelines on how your property is to be distributed and divided. Therefore, the government has to appoint an executor and use provincial laws to determine how to distribute your assets.
So, what happens when you die without a will in Ontario?
The Ontario Succession Law Reform Act is used to decide how your real estate will be distributed in case you die without a will:
If you are married but don’t have children, your spouse will inherit your entire estate
If you are married and have children, your spouse inherits up to $350,000 worth of real estate assets. What is left over (residue) will then be divided between your spouse and children
If you have children but don’t have a spouse, your assets will be divided equally between your children. In case any of your children are deceased, their children will inherit the share
If you are not married and have no children or grandchildren, your assets will be divided equally between your parents. In case only one is alive, they inherit the entire estate
If you have no parents, no spouse and no children, your sisters and brothers will inherit your estate. If any of your siblings are deceased, their children (your nephews and nieces) get their share
If you leave behind minor dependent children without another surviving parent, the government will appoint a guardian. Their inheritance will be held in trust until they attain 18 years of age.
Finally, if you don’t have any living next of kin, your real estate assets will go to the Ontario government.
Dying without a will can cause a lot of emotional and financial distress for those you leave behind. This is why it is extremely important to have a written will as soon as you start acquiring assets. In the next article, we will learn what a legal will in Canada entails.
If you are looking to start investing in property in Ontario, please get in touch by using the consultation form below.