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After a couple gets married, there can be a lot to do when starting a new life together. Someday soon, Ontario couples will be able to take at least one task off their to-do list – creating new wills.

On April 19, 2021, the Ontario government passed a new law, the Accelerating Access to Justice Act, under which a valid will created before marriage will remain valid after the happy couple says “I do.”

For years, this was not the case. A new marriage would automatically revoke a will that had already been made by either spouse under section 16 of the Succession Law Reform Act unless the will clearly stated that it was made in contemplation of the upcoming marriage.

So when will this new law take effect? At this time, the answer is unknown. It is now up to the Lieutenant Governor to name the date that the changes to the Succession Law Reform Act will take effect. At this point, all we know is that the new law will not take effect before January 1, 2022.

The reason for this change to the law is to protect vulnerable people from “predatory marriages,” as explained during government proceedings recorded in Hansard. As the population ages in Ontario, predatory marriage is a growing problem. Elderly people may get married late in life to a new spouse who gets close to the elderly person not for love, but with the specific intent of inheriting the elderly person’s estate after he or she dies.

Other changes to the Succession Law Reform Act that will take effect on or after January 1, 2022 that affect spouses include:

  • if a spouse dies after a couple separates, any gift to surviving spouse will be revoked. Under the current legislation, a gift to a surviving spouse in a will is not revoked unless the couple is divorced; and
  • if a spouse dies without a will after the couple has separated, the surviving spouse will not be entitled to share in the deceased’s estate.

Questions About this topic? Minhas Lawyers Have Answers.

Minhas Lawyers LLP stays updated on these very important areas of law, including sudden changes in government law. Our legal solutions help individuals, families, and businesses.

Securing personalized legal help is quick and simple. Call us at 905 671 9244. Book a personal consultation to speak with one of our lawyers either in person, over the telephone, or through a video conference.

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