Estate Planning Canada

The Harsh Consequences Of Dying With No Will In Canada

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To Die With No Will Is Like Leaving Your Assets Out To Dry

Dying with no Will means your property, assets, and investments may not go to the people you want them to go to.

Contrary to popular belief it’s not only people with money who need a legal Will, almost everyone does at some point.

When there is no Will that means the person has said to have died, “Intestate” where all your assets and liabilities collect.

This legal structure is called your, “estate”.

Also, if there is a Will and it cannot be located or the Will is not a valid Will it will fall under intestate.

If I asked you whether you had a will or not and you told me, “I have no Will” I’d tell you that you’d make everyone’s life easier with one.

Death Without A Will

When Should I Write A Will?

This is easy, any time you start to acquire assets such as real estate, cars, boats, pension plans, investments such as RRSP, TFSA, Non-registered, Life Insurance Investment plans and so forth.

Also, as soon as you have a child it’s a good idea to write a Will as you’ll find out a little later on in this blog post.

Related: What Happens To Your TFSA When You Die?

No Will No Executor

Closing affairs as an executor is tough enough, but what happens when someone dies with no Will?

As mentioned dying with no will is also called “intestate” and the law usually decides who will act as your executor.

When you die with no Will it also comes with increased costs and delays in distributing money to heirs and debtors if owed.

This can lead to all sorts of problems especially if you have heirs that want to step in and take control or want something.

For example, if you have valuables in the home or asset value conflict between heirs is a high potential with no Will.

Also, any inheritance for someone under the age of 18 will be held in trust by a public trustee.

Having no executor of the estate means potentially waiting for the courts to process who they will appoint to do the job.

However, dying with no will doesn’t always mean the estate will go straight to the government.

Consequently, what will occur is a loss of control of who manages and benefits from the estate.

Related: A Frozen Bank Account After Death Leaves Spouse Broke

Who Can Be Administrator Of The Estate?

When there is no executor someone must apply to the courts to be what is called an “administrator” of the estate.

Whoever is appointed administrator will then have to deal with any conflicts from heirs wanting valuable assets.

It’s never a fun job no matter what way you look at it and whoever has to do it.

Related: Who can apply to be the administrator of the Estate

If there are no relatives that can step in to apply a friend or professional such as doctor or lawyer can apply on your behalf.

It is a job as an executor so before taking on and accepting the role please do your homework.

Knowing what’s involved as an executor is far more important than just saying yes to make someone happy.

Estate Distribution With No Will

death without will

How An Estate Is Distributed Without A Will

According to the Act, unless someone who is financially dependent on the deceased person makes a claim, the first $200,000 is given to the deceased person’s spouse if he or she has decided to claim his/her entitlement.

The other possibility is to claim half of the net family property. A lawyer can help determine which is the better choice.

Anything over $200,000 is shared between the spouse and the descendants (e.g. children, grandchildren) according to specific rules.

If there is no spouse, the deceased person’s children will inherit the estate. If any of them have died, that child’s descendants (e.g. the deceased person’s grandchildren) will inherit their share.

If there is no spouse or children or grandchildren, the deceased person’s parents inherit the estate equally.

If there are no surviving parents, the deceased person’s brothers and sisters inherit the estate. If any of the brothers and sisters have died, their children (the deceased person’s nieces and nephews) inherit their share.

Read more as this is just a segment by The Attorney General In Canada by clicking the link above.

No Will No Heirs

If you have no heirs the government can step in and take everything you own.

But I have no heirs…no children, no wife/husband, or anyone to leave my money, investments, and valuables to.

Estate planning with no heirs should be handled because you may want to leave what you have to charity or other people.

If someone dies without a will it only puts pressure on those family members who are left behind.

My Parents Died With No Will

Dear Mr.CBB,

I don’t know if you’ve covered this topic on the blog yet but my mother and father passed away and left no Will.

My husband and I also had no will however we’ve been through the mill as executor dealing with my parents that we hired an estate lawyer.

Our lawyer was amazing and explained everything to us and now our Will is complete and locked away.

We feel we are leaving our children in a better position than what my parents left us, kids.

There were days I had to call in sick to work, use vacation days, and spent countless hours on the phone or travelling to sort documentation.

What a nightmare it was to deal with them having no Will.

Then when that was done I was able to pay off any debts, sell the family home and do what people with a Will do.

I just wanted to say that if you haven’t written about dying with no will it’s something that everyone should read.

To be honest, I wouldn’t wish the process of dealing with the estate of a loved one without one.

To start I had to apply to the court to be an administrator of my parent’s estate.

For the costs involved it’s not that much to make sure that what you leave behind isn’t stress and anxiety on top of grief.

Thanks for listening,


North York, Ontario.

Dying With No Will

Hi Lisette,

This is certainly a great and timely topic to discuss on the blog with Covid-19 and the many deaths in Canada.

Not only that people die every minute of every day for so many other reasons that a legal will is a must.

I’ll do my best to share what information I can find as well as share our experiences with hiring an estate lawyer.

Sorry for your loss and thanks for being here with me at CBB.


Debt When Someone Dies With No Will

Before anything else, you need to create a legal Will as that’s all that any survivor wants from you.

One of the most asked questions is whether someone inherits debt when a loved one dies.

Luckily if you owe a debt that is not joint or co-signed it won’t be passed on to anyone in your family.

However, if creditors can prove you owe them money they can put a claim in on your estate.

When your estate sells then they get paid from any equity in the property and before any inheritance is paid.

The same goes for your mortgage and any loans you owe, the money will be paid from the estate first.

What To Do When Someone Dies In Ontario

If you scroll down to the bottom I’ve added links for every province in Canada including Quebec.

After someone dies, you may need to check if the deceased person has a will. A will is a legal document that sets out who will inherit property, possessions and other personal items. 

A copy of the will may be in their home, in their safety deposit box or with their lawyer.

To find out if a will has been filed: you can contact the estates division of the local Ontario court in the community where the deceased lived.

No Will

Without a will, an estate is distributed according to the law. This can be a complex process. If you are in this situation, you might want to contact a lawyer. – What to do when someone dies.

How To Hire An Estate Planning Lawyer

Online Will

Basic estate planning may simply mean writing your own will or hiring an estate planning lawyer.

Although I’ve heard people swear by the inexpensive “Do it yourself Will Kit” we opted to hire a local lawyer.

I’d further state that if I was unable to hire a lawyer that I’d opt for the online services of creating a legal Will first.

There are websites such as Legal Wills Canada that offer customers who pay the CAD 39.95 fee the ability to create a Will.

This cost does not include the Power of Attorney as that is a further $29.95.

Each person has to create an account with a 40% discount for a spouse/partner.

They state that it will only take 20 minutes to do so and is backed by lawyers as well as Canada’s #1 provider of online Wills, Power of Attorney, and Living Wills.

I didn’t dig too deep into their services apart from what I saw on the website however if the cost is an issue, perhaps this route is worth exploring.

We searched for estate lawyers in our community and started emailing them for information.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Planning Ahead Your Death (Executor Resources)

Email To Estate Planning Lawyers

Below is the email we sent:


My wife and I live in _______ and we would like to hire an estate planning lawyer to help us create a Will and Power of Attorney.

We have one child and are a family of three with assets that we would like to protect in the event of our death.

During online research, we found that you were one of the best estate lawyers in our city and would like to meet with you.

Could you please tell us the process and costs involved with hiring ______ as our lawyer.


Mr. and Mrs. CBB

That was the exact email we sent to the estate lawyer that we hired because she was rated the best in our city.

Here’s the response we received and also keep in mind that this price we received was almost just over 2 years ago.

Like everything else, prices increase so the earlier you can get your Will completed the better.

The same goes for pre-paying for a funeral, burial and any other associated costs upfront to secure what you want before you die.

Email Response From Estate Planning Lawyer

Dear Mr. and Mrs. CBB,

Our fee for a Will, Power of Attorney for Personal Care, and Power of Attorney for Property for a husband and wife is $775 plus HST.

The process involves a one-hour meeting between you both with the lawyer (insert name) to discuss your specific needs and then returning a few weeks later for another 30-minute meeting to sign all three documents.

You receive a true copy of your Wills and one original of each of the Powers of Attorney.

The original Will is kept in our fireproof vault for safekeeping.

I hope this information helps.

Please let me know if you’d like to schedule an appointment.


The Legal Assistant

Lawyers Cost Of A Legal Will In Ontario

Although the price seems high it was worth every dollar for both of us because we knew it was being done right.

Pricing for a will varies from lawyer to lawyer so it’s important to send emails, make phones to consider your options based on your budget.

If you can afford to pay the money to have your Will completed by an estate lawyer I’d say, go for it.

The last thing you want is to leave a mess for your executor to clean up if the Will is not viewed as legal or is missing important information.

There will always be a reason to have a legal Will when you die even if you have no assets.

Perhaps you have life insurance however with no Will you’ve now left red tape for someone appointed by the courts to sort out.

You don’t have to wait until you are old to draft a Will especially if you feel you have little to no assets.

Drafting a Will when you are young allows you to update it as you age plus it leaves no burden to your survivors.

You could get hit by a bus tomorrow.

The car you are driving may flip on the highway and kill you.

You might fall and hit your head and die from the injuries.

Some people take their own lives due to mental health issues and so forth.

Whatever the case may be why someone dies leaving no Will is thoughtless for those picking up the pieces for you.

Spouse Dies No Will

A person doesn’t have to be married to be considered a spouse. Some food for thought if you’ve lived with someone for two years in a marriage type household.

So, you live together and do all the same things a married couple would do.

If you die without a will that doesn’t mean that your assets will automatically go to your spouse or partner.

Once the intestate succession is determined you may find that other surviving heirs will get a piece of what’s left.

This may consist of your children, grandchildren, or others that the local laws determine is appropriate.

These laws or intestate successions vary from province to province in Canada which is why leaving no Will is not ideal.

Spending time in unpleasant court proceedings about assets and distributions can take its toll on everyone involved.

Guardianship For Children With No Will

If you die and leave no will with guardianship specifics the court will be forced to appoint one in the event there is no living parent.

No one wants to put their children under the age of 19 in this position, you need a will.

Imagine the heartache your children will already be facing losing a parent or even both parents and no one to care for them.

Applying For Death Benefits

Another consideration to keep in mind is that if you are the spouse or child of someone who dies you may be eligible for the death benefit.

Death benefits may be available to the spouse or children of someone who dies. Death benefits are administered by the federal government. For more information, consult the Canada Pension Plan Death Benefits page on the Service Canada website, or call them at 1-800-277-9914.

What is the death benefit?

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) death benefit is a one-time, lump-sum payment to the estate on behalf of a deceased CPP contributor.

Important Links To Help Dealing With Death In Canada

Government Of Canada

Revenue Canada

Estates and Wills Across Canada

Lastly, always keep your legal Will up to date any time there is a change to your situation including relationship changes, adoption, new assets, etc.

Also, if you are reading this and have no Will, consider the consequences seriously.

Discussion: Do you have a Will? Have you been in a situation where a loved one passed away with no Will?

Leave your comments below and I’ll be sure to read and comment back.





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