|Sursa dumneavoastra de Estates si Real Estate Law ; Major changess to Estates Law|
Happy Halloween! This is one of the most interesting holidays to me. Halloween, with its fascination for death, is the holiday which relates best to wills, estates, probate, and estate planning.
Similar to Halloween and trick or treating, the pandemic also played tricks with our minds and even changed the “disguise” of estates law. It placed it centre stage on people’s to do lists, as the same question was floating on everybody’s minds: “what happens to my family if something were to happen to me?”
There are rarely times in the history of estates law where many changes are made to legislation. Here are some of the most impactful changes over the last 18 months:
Changes to Intestacy Law
An intestacy occurs when a person dies without a will or a will which does not address all their assets. The Succession Law Reform Act (the “SLRA”) provides a framework for distribution of these assets. Where the deceased left a spouse and children behind, the spouse is first entitled to a “preferential share”, and to a further share to be divided between the spouse and the children. For deaths occurring on or after March 1, 2021, the value of a surviving spouse's preferential share has been increased from $200,000 to $350,000. This means that the spouse will be entitled to receive the first $350,000, and the remainder will be divided with the children (one-half of the residue if there is one child and one-third of the residue if there are two or more children).
However, if the testator had still been legally married but separated from their spouse at the time of the person’s death, a new section was added to provide that the spousal entitlements for the preferential share do not apply.
Changes to Probate Process
The government introduced the concept of a “small estate”, which is defined as an estate with a value of up to $150,000. The process to apply for probate is more simple and less expensive.
Other Changes Affecting Estate Planning
Remote Witnessing: The SLRA now allows for remote witnessing of wills through the means of audio-visual communication technology for wills made on and after April 7, 2020.
Revocation by Marriage: As of January 1, 2022, the section of SLRA which provides that a will is revoked by the marriage of the testator except in specified circumstances, is repealed.
Divorce and Separation:
The SLRA provides that on divorce, the testator’s will shall be interpreted as if the former spouse had predeceased the testator. This affects gifts to the former spouse and executorship or trustee appointments in the will. As of January 1, 2022, this provision is expanded to include separated spouses. This means that on separation from their spouse and upon the testator’s death, the testator’s will shall be interpreted as if the separated spouse had predeceased the testator.
Expanded Court Authority
The Superior Court of Justice will have expanded authority to make an order to validate a document or writing that was not properly executed, as long as the Court is satisfied that the document sets out the testamentary intentions of a deceased or an intention of a deceased to revoke, alter or revive a will of the deceased.
Do you have questions about how these changes affect your existing situation or existing will? Give me a call, I would love to have a chat with you!
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE CONTENT OF THIS BLOG IS MERELY FOR INFORMATION PURPOSES AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE.
Raluca M. Soica, BBA, CPA, CMA, JD
Barrister & Solicitor
Raluca M. Soica,Toronto 10/12/2021