In a time of unpredictability and turmoil, the Ontario Government is dedicated to making a change—particularly when it comes to estate laws. Major legislative changes regarding estate laws are rare, but on February 16th, the government has pitched the Accelerating Access to Justice Act, 2021. Bill 245 has passed the first reading, now handed over to the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly.
Should the bill be passed, Ontario estate law will be amended in more ways than one. Specific rules regarding the connection of Wills and marriages are to be changed, for instance, such as the total eradication of a marriage’s impact on the will. Spouses will be compelled to change their Wills upon the approval of the legislation, among other things.
Addressing Better Divorce Conditions
The proposed legislation by the Ontario government encompasses separated spouses and how Wills are affected by the divorce or separation. Currently, the Ontario law does not revoke Wills, unless they are to be construed as gifts if the spouse has passed before their former spouse. The appointment of the spouse as the executor of the Will will also be revoked, but the changes will bring forth new rules.
The revocation of gifts and appointment as a Will executor, for instance, will now include separated spouses. However, it’s important to note that the law still dictates that Wills shall not be revoked on separation or divorce. Instead, the legislation will be based on the following:
- The spouses, before the death of one of them, will have been living separate lives for three years as a result of their broken union, and who have entered into a valid separation agreement
The legislation also dictates that separated spouses will now be excluded from inheriting an intestacy, provided that they meet the requirements listed above. They will also be precluded from claiming under Ontario’s Family Law Act, which dictates an equalization of net family property against their deceased spouse’s estate.
The Power Of Wills
The legislation also takes on various Will changes, which introduces the concept of substantial compliance under Ontario law. The current laws in place dictate that Wills are only valid if their execution strictly complies with the requirements necessitated by the legislation. Under the new law, this will now be overturned.
Experts postulate that this reform will likely result in more litigation cases, especially since most beneficiaries listed in a Will do not conform to strict requirements dictated by the Ontario law. They will be forced to seek and validate documents, to ensure they gain access to the inheritance. However, it’s important to note that the proposal currently excludes electronic Wills from the equation.
Towards Better Things
Although a rare sight, the currently proposed estate legislation in Ontario is a welcome change. Changes are a constant part of life, after all, and these new proposals further highlight one thing—the importance and certainty of estate planning. These changes will affect a person’s life in fundamental ways, making it important to remain up to date.
To learn more about estate planning and laws, Ontario Wills has you covered. We offer you the best estate planning attorney, ensuring that you always have access to quality legal advice regarding your wills and estate plans. Book a video consultation with us today.