Articles by Norman Pickell If I Die Without a Will  (in Ontario)


If I Die Without a Will by Norman Pickell

 What if I do not have a will? If I live in Ontario and die without a valid will, I won't be able to:  

  1.  Decide who my Estate Trustee (also known as "Executor") will be. (The Estate Trustee is the person who administers my estate.)

  2.   Have someone from outside of Ontario appointed as my Estate Trustee (even if that person would be the best qualified to act).
  3.   Designate who has control over my funeral arrangements (in the event that there is a conflict among my family).
  4.   Decide who receives my estate.
  5.   Designate who will receive some or all of my personal items, such as a piece of jewellery, some furniture, art work or my automobile.
  6.   Leave all of my estate to my legal spouse (if I have at least one child - regardless of age).
  7.   Provide a life interest for my legal spouse in any part of my estate.
  8.   Leave any part of my estate to my common law spouse or to my same-sex partner.
  9.   Designate my choice of guardian to look after any of my children who are under 18 years of age.
10.   Decide at what age my children or my grandchildren will receive their inheritance.
11.   Stop my children or my grandchildren from receiving the full amount of their inheritance when they reach 18 years of age (even if they are not able to wisely handle the money at that age).
12.   Allow my Estate Trustee (Executor) to pay additional money for the benefit of my child's or grandchild's education, medical or dental expenses.
13.   Properly provide for my children from a previous marriage.
14.   Leave any part of my estate to any step-children that I may have.
15.   Determine the provisions of any trusts for my children.
16. Properly provide for a child or other beneficiary who has special needs.
17. Fully protect my child's inheritance from being used by my child's separated spouse or my child's creditors.
18. Leave any of my money or property to a friend.
19. Leave any of my money or property to a charity.
20. Give my Estate Trustee (Executor) all of the powers that the Estate Trustee will need to properly administer my estate.
21. Allow my Estate Trustee to reduce the amount of income tax that is payable upon my death.
22. Reduce the amount of Probate Fees (also known as Probate Taxes) that my estate will have to pay to the government upon my death.
23. Do any other estate planning.

In addition, if I don't have a will:
24. No one will have any authority to act for my estate - including paying bills - until the Court appoints someone (which will take a few weeks, thereby causing a delay in the administration of my estate).
25. It will be more expensive to administer my estate.
26. My estate will be administered and my assets distributed in accordance with the Ontario legislation in effect at the time of my death.
27. The Ontario Government will look after my children's or grandchildren's inheritance until they become 18 years old.
28. I may cause my Estate Trustee and Beneficiaries to spend more time in Court (which will cause delay and cost money).
29. It will also likely take longer to complete the administration of my estate.
30. In some cases, the Province of Ontario will become the beneficiary of my estate.
In other words, if I die without a will, I will lose control over what happens when I die. I will also cause my estate to incur costs which are far greater than the cost of making a will.

A well-drafted will can look after all of the above matters. With a will, I can have peace of mind knowing that my affairs are in order and that my family is protected.

Someone once said "A man [or a woman ] who dies without a will has lawyers for his [ or her ] heirs!"

Norman Pickell is a mediator and lawyer based in Goderich, Ontario. For more information, please visit his web site at


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Norman B. Pickell  Lawyer - Mediator - Arbitrator  58 South Street, Goderich, Ontario N7A 3L5  Telephone (519) 524-8335   Fax (519) 524-1530