New Wills and Succession Act: What has changed?

There are several important changes, such as:

  • Abolishing the law that getting married revokes a will. Under the new Act, getting divorced or ending a relationship will revoke gifts to your ex-spouse or adult interdependent partner.
  • Ensuring spouses and partners have a temporary place to live when their spouse or partner dies if they do not already own the property.
  • If two or more people die at or around the same time, the property is distributed as if each person died before the other. Previously, if two or more people died at about the same time, for property distribution purposes, the youngest was deemed to have survived.
  • The admission of extrinsic evidence (i.e. evidence which is not contained in the document itself) is permitted in interpreting a will. The court may admit corroborated outside evidence, including evidence to help prove the deceased’s intention.
  • If there is no will and a person leaves both a spouse/partner and children of the relationship with that spouse/partner, everything goes to the spouse/partner, instead of being shared between the spouse/partner and children.
  • If there is no immediate family and no will, the rules have changed with respect to the ultimate distribution of an estate.
  • Family members can apply for support from the deceased’s estate. Family members previously included spouses, partners, children under age 18 and children over age 18 who by reason of physical or mental disability are unable to earn a livelihood. Under the new Act, family members will also include adult children under age 22 who are full-time students, and minor grandchildren or great-grandchildren who depend on a deceased grandparent or great-grandparent.