The Impact Dying Without a Will Has on Your Family and Loved Ones

Dying without a will in Canada can create a whole host of unpleasant problems for family members and loved ones left behind by the deceased. Without a will, the deceased’s estate would fall into something known as intestacy, and who gets what from it will be decided by the government, with each province and territory having different rules regarding this.

Without a will that you’ve set out, helped by wills and estates lawyers in Edmonton, your intestate death could cause untold misery and intense stress for loved ones left behind, and you may find that none of your wishes are carried out.

If you haven’t yet put a will in place, here is what can happen to your estate in the event of your death:

The main consequences of dying intestate in Canada

In the event of your death without a will, a personal representative appointed by the court will close out your financial affairs and distribute your assets in accordance with local regulations.

Dying intestate means that the following will happen:

  1. A person you trust cannot be named as an executor to administer your will.
  2. Whoever your assets go to will be out of your control.
  3. Spouses or next of kin may not receive what you had wished them to.
  4. Money cannot be left for charitable causes.
  5. Your funeral arrangements will be decided by someone else.
  6. Taxes cannot be minimized.
  7. Who looks after your children will be decided by the courts.

Without a will and executor to personally represent your estate, a friend or family member must apply to the court, a process that can be stressful and lengthy and delay the passing on of assets.

What happens to your spouse if you die without a will?

Your assets may not go to them automatically according to intestate succession rules, and it’s worth noting that in some provinces and territories, a legal spouse does not include common-law partners.

It may be that you would have wanted your spouse to benefit from everything in your estate, especially if children are involved, but in the absence of a will, your entire estate may be split between your children and your spouse.

What happens if you’re a parent and you die intestate?

In some instances, laws surrounding intestate estates mean that assets are split between spouses and children automatically, eliminating the possibility of one child receiving more than another, for instance. If your children are minors, their share of the money may be placed in a trust fund for them to access once they reach the age of 18 or 19 (depending on where they reside).

Additionally, once they reach that age, your children will receive all the money they have left at once, which can have many negative consequences.

If the other parent of your children is deceased, they will be looked after by whomever the court deems appropriate.

What impact could your intestate death have on other beneficiaries?

Canadian inheritance laws dictate that any money you may have wished to be left to friends or charities will not happen in the absence of a will.

Unfortunately, the rules surrounding intestate succession are strict and not at all flexible, recognizing only those relatives who are close to you by blood or adoption.

Overall, dying without a will in Canada can leave a lot of legal costs for your estate and cause unpleasant arguments between loved ones and family members left behind. But by seeking professional help from experienced will lawyers in Edmonton, you can compile an estate plan that meets all your wishes and reduces the financial impact on your estate.

While it isn’t something most of us want to think about, dealing with it now—when you’re of sound mind and can think clearly about what you want to happen in the event of your death—can help make things much simpler when the time comes and prevent your estate from going to anyone other than who you would wish it to.