Bill 245 has received royal assent, and that means some pretty major changes when it comes to writing estate plans. That bill in Ontario affects the Succession Law Reform Act and Substitute Decisions Act, which have been amended so that people can witness powers of attorney and wills remotely. It is now a permanent option for residents and for lawyers. This remote way of doing things shrinks the world when it comes to estate planning.
Taking care of business remotely
More Ontario residents are becoming comfortable with doing business remotely – holding meetings remotely, signing documents remotely, making deals remotely. The remote aspect may, in fact, encourage Ontarians who don’t have estate plans to put one into place since having meetings with lawyers now can be done in the comfort of one’s own home.
Other Bill 245 changes
Bill 245 also made some major changes to other areas of estate planning. These are some of them:
- Wills no longer become invalid upon marriage. They can continue to be valid after a person marries,
- If a testator dies and he or she is separated, but not yet divorced, the will shall be looked at as though the former spouse is also deceased as long as the couple was not living together, was apart for at least three years and had a separation agreement or a court settlement.
- The entitlement of a surviving spouse has been increased in the event of a partner dying intestate.
- The courts will now be able to validate a will or power of attorney even if they weren’t properly set out.
Ontario residents who have questions regarding these changes and how they may affect taxes and financial planning might consider speaking to a lawyer experienced in estate planning. It is wise to revisit an estate plan from time to time anyway, as it is good to understand how legislative changes – and other life changes – may affect an existing estate plan.