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What happens if you die without a will in place?

When a person passes away, he or she leaves behind an estate. Some people don't have a will put in place because they don't think they have assets worthy of this action. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your children would very much appreciate remembering you as they use the family china or cover up with the quilt that you left them. What happens in either situation? What happens if you die with a will in place and what happens if you die without one?

If you have a will in place, your wishes are easy to translate. You have left a list of sorts that your relatives can look to for guidance. In a few cases, the will may be challenged if the law says that your will isn't doing what it is supposed to do. For example, all your money and property must first go to your surviving spouse. If the property is jointly owned, it will naturally transfer to your partner. Also, if you remarried after your will was written, it may be contested by the newer spouse.

If you die "intestate" or without a will in place, Ontario's Succession Law Reform Act will help your heirs with the distribution of your assets. The act says that if there is a person who is financially dependent on you, the first $200,000 will be distributed to this person. The children and grandchildren will equally share the rest of the property and assets left. If you have no heirs, your parents will inherit the remaining belongings. Without parents, your assets will be distributed to your siblings.

Knowing what will happen if you don't have a will in place is important information, and hopefully, it will spur you on to getting with your lawyer and putting one in place right away.

Source: Ministry of the Attorney General, "Inheriting property," accessed Oct. 26, 2015

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