Think carefully about how you write your Will when you are legally married or live common law in Ontario. Go slow if you are separating or divorced.
Newly married or cohabiting couples often have individual Wills. When you become a couple, assets can be intermingled, making writing new Wills a smart idea.
Legal advice on cohabitating the right way.
Axess Law helps couples through marriage or marriage breakdown to organize Wills for maximum financial and personal benefit. We give you straightforward answers to questions every couple should ask.
For instance —
What are mirror Wills?
Mirror Wills are separate Wills made by spouses that include reciprocal terms. In other words, your Wills mirror each other. For example, John and Lily are a married couple creating mirror wills. Lily leaves everything to John in her Will and John leaves everything to Lily in his.
For John and Lily to have mirror Wills, everything else should be the same. Executors, beneficiaries and alternate distribution plans (where your estates go if you and your spouse die at the same time) match.
You can change your Will at any time, with or without your spouse knowing, such as if you divorce or your spouse dies. That just means your Will no longer mirrors your spouse’s.
Do spouses need separate Wills?
The quick answer – yes! Mirror Wills are very common between spouses and, unlike mutual Wills, allow you to make personal bequests if you desire. Be sure to discuss the pros and cons of mirror Wills with your Axess Law lawyer before finalizing your decision.
What happens to my Will if I get married?
Pre-existing Wills made before marriage stay intact. 2021 changes to Ontario Wills laws (Succession Law Reform Act) leave legally valid Wills in place to protect against predatory marriages.
That prevents a new spouse from entwining you in a romance scam simply to inherit assets you set aside for others. Former spouses still inherit unless you deliberately revoke your Will by rewriting it.
Axess Law makes a new Will if you separate, divorce, remarry or have new biological or step-children.
How does divorce affect my Will?
Wills are not automatically revoked following divorce. Only those parts concerning your former spouse are affected. A divorced spouse can no longer be your estate executor and any gifts in your Will pass to other beneficiaries.
Axess Law recommends making a new Will, instead of inking in changes. Any Will, no matter how well drafted, can be contested. Revoking previous Wills makes your final wishes clear and your divorce less “messy”.
What about if I get separated?
Wills laws have been updated to eliminate property rights for separated spouses. Starting Jan. 1, 2022, a spouse you separated from years ago is prevented from inheriting with or without a Will. If you die before that date, your spouse receives gifts you left in your Will or, if you die without a Will, a preferential share of your estate.
For estate purposes, you are considered separated if you lived separate or apart for three or more years immediately before dying, had a valid separation agreement, court-ordered settlement or family arbitration award.
Axess Law writes new Wills to protect separated couples until the changes take effect. We recommend updating your Will as soon as possible after you separate.
What’s a preferential share?
Your spouse and children have first rights to your estate if you die without a Will (intestate). As of March 1, 2021, that share increases to $350,000 from $200,000 for spouses. A child under 18 or an adult with disabilities who relied on you for financial support share any remaining balance equally with your spouse.
Who gets the matrimonial home if you die intestate.
Your spouse receives a third of the balance if you have multiple children (who share the rest equally). For example, if your estate is worth $475,000 and you have one child, your spouse receives the first $350,000, plus 50% of the remaining $125,000.
Your estate is divided according to provincial intestacy law if you are single and childless or your spouse and children predecease you.
Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s wills and estate services.
Why You Need a Lawyer
When you think about it, an outdated Will is almost as useful as no Will at all. Your old Will could be declared invalid after you die, unless you keep it modernized and in tune with your personal life.
Axess Law turns handwritten or holographic Wills and outdated versions into professional, legally valid Wills for use in Ontario probate court. Our licensed lawyers for Wills:
- include your choices for executor, personal representative or estate trustee
- draft clauses to protect your Will from legal challenges
- add new family members like spouses or biological or adopted children
and organize mirror Wills to satisfy changing estate laws.
We can suggest ways to save on estate administration taxes and answer common questions about types of Wills in Ontario.
Save on Legal Fees with Basic Wills and Power of Attorney
Axess Law Wills and estates Ontario lawyers offer basic Wills for one all-inclusive fee. Our flat fee legal services have no hidden surprises or extra charges.
Updating your Will or writing a Will for the first time costs the same — $199.99 and up plus HST or $149.99 each plus HST for couples. Add power of attorney for personal care and property at the same time for $249.99 and up plus HST for virtual Wills or $299.99 when you meet with us in person.
Virtual or In Person Legal Appointments
Access lawyers in Greater Toronto Area or Ottawa via remote video conferencing online Wills services anywhere in Ontario or in person at locations near you.
Virtual lawyers for Wills are available when you are. We draft Wills and review legal documents from your home or office using secure, online video call software. Making new Wills is easy when we witness your ID online and email documents for you to sign.
In person appointments are available at any of our Axess Law locations in Greater Toronto Area or Ottawa, 7 days a week. Ask about our day or evening appointments. We have onsite parking and easy transit access.
Easy Online Booking or Phone Us Toll Free
Axess Law’s online booking form takes minutes to complete. You can make your own appointments or speak with a live operator by calling our 1-647-479-0118 lawyer line. Toll free calls accepted at 1-877-402-4277.
We find a Wills and estates lawyer near you. Onsite parking is available and transit access is nearby.