March 21, 2019

Automatic Revocation of Wills

AUTOMATIC REVOCATION OF WILLS IS MANDATED BY LAW IN ONTARIO

There are situations where a validly drawn will can be automatically revoked with no express intention on the part of the owner of the Will. The two most common situations where this occurs are marriage and divorce.

By law in Ontario, when an individual has an existing Will and subsequently marries, the Will is automatically revoked. There are exceptions that can prevent this automatic revocation, but they are narrow and specific. This legislation was developed in part to ensure that people provide financially for their spouses wherever possible.

Divorce also has an effect on the Wills of spouses, but to a lesser extent than marriage. Upon divorce, any provisions that may have been made in favour of the divorced spouse will be automatically revoked, including an appointment of the former spouse as an executor. The Will itself remains effective except for the parts in favour of the former spouse, and the Will is interpreted as if the former spouse predeceased the owner of the Will. This legislation assumes that upon divorce a person would not want any of their assets to pass to a former spouse. If this is not the case, the divorced spouses would have to draw up new Wills in order to include each other.

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