What is a will and what happens if I die without making one?
Question & AnswerWhat is a will and what happens if I die without making one?
1. Learn what happens to your property if you die without a will
If you die without a will, Ontario law has rules about what happens to the property in your . These are called the .
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 and biological and adopted children have a right to your property.
|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 $350,000, your spouse gets everything. If your estate is worth more than $350,000, your spouse gets the first $350,000. 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.|
The intestacy rules do not give anything to a , or stepchildren you haven't legally adopted. But be aware that they might be able to go to court and make a dependant’s support claim against your estate. A dependant is a person you were supporting financially before you died or a person the law says you must support.
So, if you want to leave property to someone who is not your married spouse, or biological or adopted child, you should make a will. For example, you should make a will if you want to leave property to:
- a common-law spouse
- a stepchild
- other family members like a grandchild, niece, or nephew
- non-relatives like a friend or neighbour
- organizations such as charities