Introduction – Changes to Ontario Estate Law
Following the enactment of Bill 245, significant changes to the Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act (SLRA) came into force on January 1, 2022.
Revocation of a will by marriage repealed
Section 16 of the SLRA provided for revocation of will upon marriage, except in certain circumstances. This section is repealed; thus, marriages occurring on or after January 1, 2022 – will no longer revoke existing wills. Couples who have been living together and decide to marry or couples who have otherwise made satisfactory estate planning arrangements no longer have to change their wills as soon as they get married. If you married prior to that date and did not update your will you still need to retain an experienced Canadian estate and tax planning lawyer to properly update your will.
Revocation, change in circumstances
Section 17 of the SLRA provided that if the marriage of the testator and the testator’s spouse is terminated or declared a nullity, the testator’s will shall be construed as if the former spouse had predeceased the testator. This section is amended, starting on January 1, 2022, and as a result specified instances of spousal separation will be treated as divorce.
Virtual witnessing of wills and powers of attorney
To deal with concerns relating to COVID-19, the province of Ontario declared a state of emergency on March 17, 2020. On April 7, 2020, the province of Ontario issued Order in Council filed as O. Reg. 129/20, that temporarily allowed for the virtual witnessing of Wills and Powers of Attorney. On April 19, 2021, with the passing of Bill 245, virtual witnessing of Wills and Powers of Attorney became a permanent option in Ontario.
Pro Tax Tips – Couples that got married before January 1, 2022, need to change their will or make a new one.
The revocation of existing wills does not apply to persons who are already married before January 1, 2022. Thus, anyone who got married before this date is deemed to not have an existing will, unless they made a new one after and in contemplation of marriage.
In the event that you think you may need professional estate and tax planning legal advice to help you change your existing will or draft a new one, it is highly recommended that you speak with an expert Canadian tax and estates lawyer.
"This article provides information of a general nature only. It is only current at the posting date. It is not updated and it may no longer be current. It does not provide legal advice nor can it or should it be relied upon. All tax situations are specific to their facts and will differ from the situations in the articles. If you have specific legal questions you should consult a lawyer."