Dying Without a Will in Ontario

Dying without a will can come with numerous unintended consequences. First, your property may not be distributed in the same manner you would have intended had a will been made. Instead, your property will be distributed in accordance with the Succession Law Reform Act. In addition, if both you and your spouse are deceased without a will, it will be left up to the court to decide who to appoint to be the guardian of any minor children. It will also be up to the court to determine who should administer your estate. Moreover, there can be additional delays and expenses associated with the distribution of an estate where there is no will.

The guidelines set out under the Succession Law Reform Act for the distribution of property where there is no will (intestate), are summarized as follows:

Where there is a spouse and no children:

Your spouse will be entitled to all property absolutely

Where there is a spouse and one child:

Your spouse is entitled to the first $200,000 of your property (referred to as a “preferential share”). If there is anything left over beyond this preferential share, it is referred to as the residue of your estate. Where this is one child, the residue is split evenly between your spouse and child.

Where there is a spouse and more than one child:

Again, your spouse is first entitled to a preferential share of your property equalling $200,000.  If there is anything left over beyond this preferential share, your spouse will be entitled to 1/3 of the residue and the remaining 2/3 is split amongst the children equally.

Where there is no spouse but there are children:

The property is split equally between your children.

Where there is no spouse and no children:

The property is to be distributed equally between your parents. Where there is only one surviving parent, that parent receives all property.

Where there is no spouse, children or parents:

The property is split equally between your brothers and sisters.

Where there is no spouse, children, parents, or brothers and sisters:

The property is split equally between your nephews and nieces.

Where there is no spouse, children, parents, brothers, sisters or nephews and nieces:

The property is to be split amongst your next of kin.

Where there is no spouse, children, parents, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces or next of kin:

Your property becomes property of the Crown.