In British Columbia, it used to be the case that a Will made prior to marriage was automatically revoked on the marriage of the will-maker. However, since the Wills, Estates and Succession Act came into force in 2014, marriage no longer has this effect in our province.
Seven years later, Ontario is following suit. A bill repealing the section of Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act which set out that a will was revoked by marriage received royal asset on April 19, 2021.
These changes reflect the modern world, where increasing numbers of people in Canada have children from prior relationships they wish to benefit despite any subsequent marriage to a new partner.
However, these legislative changes are not enough to secure your estate. Even though a Will made prior to marriage is still valid, your new husband or wife has the right under the Wills, Estates and Succession Act to challenge your Will if it does not adequately provide for them. Think you can avoid this scenario simply by not putting a ring on it? Think again. Even without being married, your partner can challenge your Will if you have lived with each other in a marriage-like relationship for at least 2 years.
Thus the necessity for legal advice! We often recommend a cohabitation agreement or marriage agreement, where the parties set out that each is free to do as they want with their estate and they will not make claims against the estate of the other. If you are entering into a new relationship or getting married and want to know how to best protect your estate, contact one of our Wills & Estates or Family Law lawyers.