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Distributing an estate without a will

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2015 | Estate Administration

Following the death of a loved one there are many tasks that may need to be addressed. Once the funeral service is concluded, among other things, the assets that the deceased person owned will have to be distributed among his beneficiary. Just what the distribution process looks like depends on whether the deceased person created a will before he died. In this post we try to cover some of the issues that are faced by those living in Ontario, who became charged with handling an estate of a loved one, if there is no valid last will.

When a will does not exist or is invalid, a person dies intestate. When a person dies intestate in Ontario, his estate will be distributed in accordance with the succession mechanism provide by Succession Law Reform Act.

If the deceased had a spouse, under the statute the spouse will receive the first $200,000 of the estate (the preferential share) before any money is paid to other beneficiaries. If the estate value is $200,000 or less, the spouse will receive all of it.  For the estates of the value greater than $200,000, the remaining portion (after the preferential share is paid) will be divided among the spouse and the children of the deceased, if there are any. It is important to note that the children of the spouse, even if considered by the deceased as his own, will not participate in this distribution. Unless the dependant support provisions can be invoked, the step-children do not inherit.

If there is no spouse, the children of the deceased will share the estate of their parent. The grandchildren of the deceased will receive the share of their parent, if the parent entitled to the share of the estate is deceased at the time the inheritance becomes available. Should the deceased person have no descendants or spouse, his parents will receive the estate, if they are still alive.

When the deceased person is not survived by either spouse, children, grandchildren or parent, the assets of the estate will go to his siblings or their children if they too have died.

The distribution plan for someone, who dies intestate can be very complicated.The estate trustee may be required to provide an estate bond (insurance) before the Court will grant the Certificate of Appointment allowing the trustee to handle the assets of the estate. Estranged relatives entitled to inherit may have to be located as their whereabouts or even identity could be unknown. This can leave an estate trustee feeling overwhelmed and may lead to substantial expenditures for the estate.

An experienced lawyer may be of great assistance.


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