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When you die, will your family know what to do?

What if you die without a Will?



October 15, 2020

If you die without leaving a valid Will, your estate will be divided amongst the persons and in the proportions specified by the statutes, known as the laws of intestacy, of the province in which you lived when you died.

There are other disadvantages to not leaving a Will, such as:

  • Your family may be shocked to learn your estate will be distributed according to legislation, not as they presume you would have wanted it distributed.

  • Not all provinces recognize a common-law partner under the laws of intestacy so they may not receive any part of your solely-owned assets.

  • Financial institutions are unable to provide information to anyone until someone, usually a family member, has been appointed administrator by the court to administer your estate; if inaccurate values were used on the court application, an amended application with the correct values may be required.

  • Family members of the ‘same class’ (such as children, siblings, etc.) may be required to renounce their right to administer your estate in favour of the administrator applicant, which can be challenging if there’s dissension amongst the family or they cannot be easily located.

  • The arbitrary division of your estate under the laws of intestacy may be unfair and unjust, depending on your family situation, and may not reflect your wishes.

  • Except in the case of minors, no trusts are created for the protection of those whose interests should be safeguarded, such as a disabled beneficiary.

  • As a guardian for minor children may only be appointed in a Will, the courts would appoint the guardian of your children, who may not be who you would have selected.

  • Minors who receive a share of your estate under the laws of intestacy will receive the full amount at the age of majority instead of at a more mature age. As the administrator is required to pay the child’s share into court/Public Guardian, a parent or guardian needing funds for the child’s education or health care would have to apply to receive funds from your estate.

  • The family member who is entitled by law to act as administrator may be much less astute than an executor or corporate executor chosen by a Will maker and named in a Will.

  • There will be additional delays and expenses; e.g., if the administrator lives in a different province they will be required by the court to post a bond as security to ensure the administrator does not misappropriate estate assets.

  • A bond is similar to an insurance policy and is generally double the value of the estate. Trust companies like Concentra Trust are not required to post a bond when acting as the administrator of an intestate estate.

  • Administrators are permitted to exercise only those powers granted to them by law. These powers may not allow sufficient flexibility or discretion in dealing with estates; e.g., in protecting assets, creating trusts, postponing distributions, delaying the sale of a property until market conditions improve, etc. The administrator may need to apply to the Courts and that will increase expenses, which will be deducted from your estate.

  • When you die without a Will you miss out on any tax savings that could have been arranged with advance planning.

Consider connecting with an estate and trust specialist at Concentra Trust to discuss the advantages of having a Will and other relevant estate documents. Concentra Trust works with Canadians to ensure you have the documents you need, such as Wills, powers of attorney for property and personal care, and whether establishing a trust for your loved ones is the right approach for you.

Did you miss our most recent article? Click here to read When you die, will your family know what to do?

Concentra Trust, a national trust company, has been serving clients, corporations and communities for more than 65 years with tailored estate and trust solutions designed to preserve and transition wealth to future generations. We are well versed in navigating the intricacies of estate planning and administration and our experts have the skill to support all aspects of the process. Given our passion for trust governance, our unbiased advice and guidance, and our inclusive leadership culture and co-operative values, we provide exceptional client service.

For more information, contact: 1.800.788.6311 |

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