Many people avoid making a will because they don’t want to think about their own mortality, especially if it seems so far off. But if you pass intestate (without a will), it can lead to problems for those you have left behind.
In addition to extra time delays, expenses and taxes in wrapping up your affairs, the court will have to select someone to be your personal representative. The general rule is your closest relative has the right to be appointed as your estate trustee; however, they must first apply to the court for a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee without a Will. Once appointed, this person is responsible for managing and distributing your estate, including selling your home.
One thing you don’t to have fret about is the government taking your property, unless you have no next of kin. If you do, it will be distributed to surviving relatives according to your province’s laws, but that may not be the same as what you wanted.
In Ontario, your spouse inherits everything if you have no children, but this only applies to legally married spouses. Those in common-law relationships aren’t afforded the same property rights. The surviving partner is completely omitted and must go to court to try to get support. This applies even if the two common-law spouses had children together and/or the surviving common-law spouse is the estate trustee.
If you have a spouse and children, your spouse is entitled to the first $200,000 worth of assets. Anything remaining is divided between your spouse and children according to specific rules. For example, if you only have one child, your spouse and child each receive half of the residual estate. If you have more than one child, your spouse receives one-third of anything above $200,000, and your children share the remainder equally.
Should you have children but no spouse, then your estate will be equally divided among them. If any have died, their share will be inherited by their children (your grandchildren).
If you leave no spouse, children or grandchildren behind, your parents will inherit your entire estate.
In the case where there are no surviving parents, the deceased’s siblings inherit the estate, and so on and so forth.