Your last will and testament provides for the orderly transfer of your assets to people you want to receive them after you die. Usually, these beneficiaries include family members. Without a will, Ontario legislation provides some protection for the transfer of your assets to your married spouse and children but you still need a will if you want to make a gift to a friend or charitable organization, or to treat a family member specially.

If you die without a will and are in a common law relationship, your common law spouse must go to court to make a claim against your estate and can only do so if the spouse has lived with you for three years or more before you die, or if you have a child together. Other family members that you are legally obligated to support, such as an ailing parent living with you, must also go to court if you do not have a will.

Because there is no one to administer your estate without a will, a family member, even a married spouse, will have to apply to the courts to become the administrator (executor) of your estate.

To avoid the cost of courts after you die, the best thing to do is to have your lawyer prepare a comprehensive will for you now.