DYING WITHOUT A WILL IN ONTARIO
When a person dies without a valid will, called “intestate”, Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act sets out how the estate is distributed.
According to the Act, unless someone who is financially dependent on the deceased person makes a claim, the first $200,000 is given to the deceased person’s spouse if he or she has decided to claim his/her entitlement. The other possibility is to claim half of the net family property. A lawyer can help determine which is the better choice.
Anything over $200,000 is shared between the spouse and the descendants (e.g. children, grandchildren) according to specific rules.
If there is no spouse, the deceased person’s children will inherit the estate. If any of them have died, that child’s descendants (e.g. the deceased person’s grandchildren) will inherit their share. If there is no spouse or children or grandchildren, the deceased person’s parents inherit the estate equally.
If there are no surviving parents, the deceased person’s brothers and sisters inherit the estate. If any of the brothers and sisters have died, their children (the deceased person’s nieces and nephews) inherit their share. If there are no surviving brothers and sisters, the deceased person’s nieces and nephews inherit the estate equally. However if a niece or nephew has died, their share does not pass to their children. When only more distant relatives survive (e.g. cousins, great nieces or nephews, great aunts and uncles), the rules are complex and you should speak to a lawyer. If any heir was alive when his or her relative died, but died before the estate was distributed, that person’s own heirs are entitled to their share.
When a person dies without a will, only blood relatives, including children born outside of marriage, or legally adopted children can inherit. Half-blood relatives share equally with whole-blood relatives.
To read more details on inheriting property please visit the Ministry of the Attorney General website.