Should You Include Your Ex-partner in Your Will?

Let’s see. You moved out their belongings, deleted them from Facebook. Have you forgotten anything? The last thing on your mind could be your will. For separating or divorcing couples, it may be one of your most important decisions.

You Still Love Them

Many divorced or separated couples still love each other. The chance you may re-unite could be an illusion or just your pride, but as long as it is there…should you rewrite your will? When you think you see signs a breakup could be ending, maybe you are changing your will in haste.

Signs a Split May Not be Forever

  1. They stay in touch – phoning, texting or making excuses to see you and you like it.
  2. They express regret. You feel the same.
  3. They talk about happier times. You remember them too.
  4. They ask if you are dating. Could they be thinking of reigniting the flame?
  5. They ask mutual friends about you, working up their courage to suggest a reunion.
  6. They talk to your family. After all, they were family too.
  7. They’ve changed and so have you.

What to Do Now

Getting back together could be wishful thinking, especially if your separation or divorce is recent. Stranger things have happened. Before you take the leap, here’s what to know about your will, separation and divorce.

How Divorce Affects Your Will

The Ontario Family Law Act grants spouses an inheritance or equalization payment (share of assets) when you die. That right is revoked if you divorce. Unless you arrange otherwise, gifts in your will go to someone else. Your ex-spouse is no longer an executor, trustee or guardian.

Does Separation Revoke Your Will?

Not if you are legally married. Unlike in divorce, your will remains intact unless you change it. If that’s not what you planned, an Axess Law wills and estates lawyer can help update your will.

Do Common-Law Partners Inherit?

Provided they are in your will, your common-law ex could still inherit. Your former partner will be excluded if your will is invalid or you died without one (called intestate). See Types of Wills: The Ultimate Guide to verify if your will is valid.

What About Joint Property?

Say you died tomorrow, before you had a chance to close a joint bank account. Your money would go to your former partner. The same applies to jointly owned property. It reverts to your ex in a joint tenancy (you both owned it). For a tenant in common arrangement, they receive their share and yours goes to your estate. Although your heirs could go to court, that would be time consuming and costly.  

How About the Matrimonial Home You Shared?

Only legally married ex-partners have a claim to a matrimonial home. Unless they are on the title, common-law partners are locked out.

Is Your Ex-Partner a Beneficiary?

Separation or divorce can have unintended consequences. Recall that line on your life insurance policy about beneficiaries? Your ex-partner still inherits investments, RRIFs, RRSPs, insurance policies or pensions outside of your estate. Contact your bank, broker or insurer if your instructions change.

Making a Decision

Still up in the air? Book an appointment for legal advice on including an ex-partner in your will. Call toll free to 1-877-552-9377 or 647-479-0118 in Toronto or use our online booking form. Lawyers are available 7 days a week, at times convenient for you. We can meet in person, by phone, email or remote video call.

Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s wills and estate.