What Does Dying Intestate Mean?

When someone dies intestate, it means that they have passed away without a valid will. This can lead to several complications, including uncertainty about who should inherit the deceased person’s assets and the distribution of their estate. In this blog, we’ll explore what it means to die intestate in Canada and the impact it can have on your loved ones.

Distribution of Assets

When someone dies intestate, their assets will be distributed according to the laws of the province in which they lived. Each province has its own set of rules that dictate how the estate should be divided. In general, the spouse and children of the deceased will be the first in line to inherit the estate.

If the deceased person was married, their spouse will typically inherit a portion of the estate. The amount of the estate that the spouse will inherit depends on a number of factors, including the length of the marriage and whether the couple had children together. If the deceased person had children, their children will typically inherit the remainder of the estate.

If the deceased person was not married and did not have children, their estate will typically be distributed to their closest living relatives, such as their parents or siblings. If there are no living relatives, the estate may be transferred to the government.

Legal Fees and Delays

When someone dies intestate, the process of settling their estate can be much more complicated and time-consuming than if they had created a will. This is because the distribution of the estate will need to be determined by the courts, which can be a lengthy and expensive process.

In addition, legal fees can add up quickly when someone dies intestate. Without a will, the court will need to appoint an administrator to manage the estate, which can be a time-consuming process. The administrator will need to locate and value all of the deceased person’s assets, pay any outstanding debts and taxes, and distribute the remaining assets to the heirs. This process can be complicated and time-consuming, and the legal fees can quickly add up.

Family Disputes

When someone dies intestate, it can also lead to family disputes over the distribution of the estate. This is because the laws of the province will dictate who should inherit the estate, which may not align with the wishes of the deceased person or their family members.

For example, if the deceased person had a common-law spouse but was not legally married, the spouse may not be entitled to any of the estate under the laws of some provinces. This can lead to disputes between the common-law spouse and the deceased person’s children or other family members.

In addition, if the deceased person had a child or other family member who was estranged from the family, they may still be entitled to a portion of the estate under the laws of the province. This can lead to disputes and tension between family members, as they may disagree about how the estate should be distributed.

Protecting Your Loved Ones

To avoid the complications that can arise when someone dies intestate, it’s important to create a will. A will is a legal document that outlines how you would like your assets to be distributed after you pass away. By creating a will, you can ensure that your wishes are followed and that your loved ones are protected.
When creating a will, it’s important to work with a lawyer who specializes in estate planning. They can help you navigate the complex legal system and ensure that your will is legally valid. In addition, they can help you identify any potential issues that could arise and provide guidance on how to address them.

In addition to creating a will, it’s important to regularly review and update your estate plan. Life circumstances can change quickly, and it’s important to ensure that your estate plan reflects your current wishes. For example, if you get married, divorced, or have a child, you may need to update your will to reflect these changes.

By taking the time to create a will and regularly review your estate plan, you can ensure that your loved ones are protected and that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. This can provide peace of mind knowing that your affairs are in order and that your loved ones will be taken care of after you’re gone.

In summary, dying intestate in Canada can lead to several complications, including uncertainty about the distribution of assets, legal fees and delays in settling the estate, and potential family disputes. To protect your loved ones and ensure your wishes are followed, it’s essential to create a will with the guidance of a qualified estate planning lawyer. By doing so, you can avoid the pitfalls of dying intestate and provide clarity and peace of mind for your loved ones during a difficult time.

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