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I'm not legally married. What happens if I die without a will?

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I'm not legally married. What happens if I die without a will?
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Community Advocacy & Legal Centre (CALC)
Ministry of the Attorney General

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I'm not legally married. What happens if I die without a will?
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Reviewed: 
October 31, 2019
Answer

If you die without a will, Ontario law has rules about what happens to the property in your estate. They are called the intestacy rules.

Under the intestacy rules, who gets your property depends on whether you're married or not married, and how many children you have.

The intestacy rules say only a legally married spouse and biological and adopted children have a right to your property. The intestacy rules do not give anything to a common-law partner, or stepchildren you haven't legally adopted.

Are you legally married?

Do you have children?

What the intestacy rules say

Yes

No

Your estate goes to your spouse. This includes a spouse you're separated from but not divorced.

Yes

Yes

If your estate is worth less than $200,000, your spouse gets everything. If your estate is worth more than $200,000, your spouse gets the first $200,000. The rest is divided between your spouse and children.

No

Yes

Your children share your estate equally.

No

No

Your estate goes to your living closest relatives. If you have no relatives, your estate goes to the Ontario government.

If you're not legally married when you die, the intestacy rules say that after all funeral expenses, taxes, and debts are paid, your biological and adopted children share your estate.

Other relatives get something only if you don't have any children.

If you don't have any relatives, then your estate goes to the Ontario government.

Estate Trustee

The person who deals with your estate after you die is called an estate trustee. They are also called executors, estate representatives, personal representatives, estate administrators, or liquidators.

If you die without a will or don't name an estate trustee in your will, someone has to apply to the court to be appointed as your estate trustee.

This process can cost a lot of money and take a lot of time. Nothing can happen with your estate until an estate trustee is appointed. This means your debts can't be paid and your beneficiaries can't get anything.

Once the court approves an estate trustee, they distribute the property in your estate according to the intestacy rules.

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