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What Happens If You Die Without a Will?

Executive Summary

Most of us know that having a will is important, but statistics show that what we know about wills and the action we take with wills are very different. According to a survey conducted by CIBC in 2013, more than half of Canadians die without a will. If you die without a will in Canada it is referred to as dying in intestacy. When you die intestate, it is up to government legislation to handle your affairs. Below are some points that should be seriously considered before deciding against a will and how you could expect the estate will be distributed according to the current rules of intestacy.

What You Need to Know

Anyone who has assets, debts, or dependents should have a will. Most everyone wants their family to be looked after when they die. By not leaving a legal will behind, your family may not be cared for appropriately. Death takes a huge emotional toll on a family and not leaving a valid will can make things a lot worse.

Below are some considerations for your estate if you do not have an up to date will. While this list is by no means exhaustive, these points should be carefully considered before deciding against a will:

▪  Depending on the province, common-law partners may not be entitled to the estate as per the rules of intestacy.

▪  Even if you have a valid will, it is possible to die in partial intestate. Dying in partial intestate means that for some reason your will does not deal with the whole estate or a segment of your will is considered invalid.

▪  When individuals die in intestacy, an application must be made to the courts in order to appoint an estate administrator. Therefore, the deceased forfeits the opportunity to appoint an executor of their choosing.

▪  Most provinces recognize posthumous birth under their intestate rules. Any children conceived before death and born after death are considered to have been alive during the deceased’s lifetime.

▪  There is no opportunity to select guardians for any minor children

▪  Due to the laws of intestacy your spouse could end up with significantly less then intended, therefore they may not be able to a maintain their lifestyle.

▪  While everyone likes to think that their family would peacefully and fairly distribute their assets, this is usually not the case. Money has a way of bringing out an ugly side in people. Having a will can prevent this conflict and ensure everyone is treated fairly.

▪  There will be no outlined plan for dealing with any taxes or capital gains that may arise from your death.

▪  Estate litigation can be very expensive for your family.

▪  There will be no opportunity for charitable giving at your death.