If you were to ask a millennial to make a list of their life plans or priorities, it would likely include such things as educational and career accomplishments, vacation experiences and building relationships. Graduating, landing their desired job, paying off their debts, buying a home and traveling are likely to be high on that list. Estate planning, on the other hand, is likely to be near the very bottom, if it were to appear at all. This is unsurprising, given that the millennial generation is experiencing a delayed path to achieving traditional life milestones, and thus, in many cases, significant asset accumulation. However, a lack of emphasis on the importance of estate planning, and a lack of knowledge of the many benefits that can be gained from setting up an estate plan are likely also contributing factors.
What Happens if You Don’t Have a Will?For one, Part II of Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act, which governs how your assets are distributed if you die “intestate” (without a Last Will), provides a very rigid formula that is based on traditional societal values. These rules can be summarized as follows:
- If the Deceased has a spouse (common law spouses are not included) and no issue, the spouse is entitled to the entirety of the estate.
- If the Deceased has a spouse and issue, the spouse is entitled to the first $200,000.00 of the estate, and the remainder is divided evenly between the spouse and any issue.
- If the Deceased has no spouse and no issue, the estate goes to the Deceased’s surviving parents, equally.
- If there are no surviving parents, the estate goes to the Deceased’s siblings equally (and if a sibling has predeceased, that sibling’s share goes to their respective children).
- If there are no siblings, the estate goes to the Deceased’s nephews and nieces equally.
- If there are no nephews or nieces, the estate goes to the next of kin of equal degree of consanguinity.
- If there are no next of kin, the estate escheats to the Crown.