Tel: 416 767-CASS (2277)
Fax: 416-491-0273

Garry Cass, ext.207
Assistant: Josie Dobosz, ext. 277

They Can Sort It When I’m Gone

Some people tell me,  “What do I care? I’ll be dead anyway. They can sort it out when I’m gone.”

If this is your attitude, I have my work cut out for me. I have until the end of this page to change your mind. Let me ask why you hold this attitude? Do you believe:  (choose at least one):

  1. You have nothing to leave to beneficiaries
  2. You don’t care if you leave hard feelings, possible lawsuits and a broken family in your wake
  3. You don’t care if money is wasted on legal fees and other costs of administering your estate, rather than go to your beneficiaries
  4. You think that if the government steps in to wrap up your estate, they will do it for free and there will be no legal fees
  5. You don’t mind that under-age or vulnerable beneficiaries may get some or all of your hard-earned money before they know what to do with it
  6. You think that writing a Will will magically (or criminally) lead to your immediate death
  7. You think that the government knows how to give away your money better than you do
  8. You want to be remembered as “that inconsiderate s/o/b”
  9. Other.

Whatever your reason, the result is the same . . . your loved one(s) arguing about the estate when they could be supporting each other and remembering your life. And all that time wasted, they will be repeating , “I can’t believe he left us with this mess.”

Government Schemes for Intestate Estates

In every province in Canada there is a scheme for distributing the assets of someone who dies without a Will (this is called intestacy).

In Ontario the statute that covers this is called the Succession Law Reform Act. It ranks who will inherit by order of their degree of relatedness (consanguinity) to the person who died. For example, if you were separated but not divorced from your spouse and living with another person, the spouse has the greater claim on your estate, no matter how long this situation existed.

Further, if there is are significant assets involved, the estate will require an estate trustee whose job it is to wind up your affairs. Someone, and it may not be easy to decide who, and it may not be someone you would trust, will have to apply to the Court to obtain a judge’s Order to become the estate trustee. This can be both expensive and time-consuming and meanwhile, your beneficiaries may not have access to the resources they need to meet bills.

Worse, as tensions mount, serious disagreements may arise among people who believe they should have a piece of the pie.

Typical Situations Not Covered by the Succession Law Reform Act

Remember, an intestate distribution is arbitrary. It does not account for your life  and the issues you leave behind. An intestate distribution may not take care of your spouse the way you would like and it certainly will not deal with issues that arise from

  • second marriages
  • multiple families
  • disabled beneficiaries
  • business partners and
  • the list goes on.

Each life lived offers a different set of issues to be dealt with and each interested party who feels inadequately provided for is a potential litigant slowing down resolution of your estate.

Let’s face it, if you are the type of person who acts responsibly in life, you should act responsibly in terms of your death as well. As much as I hate to say it, dying is a part of living. Dying with your plan in place is certainly better than leaving everyone to try and carve their own piece from your “pie”. In all my years in practice, I have never heard of an otherwise healthy individual dying as a result of signing a Will.

© Garry Cass - 2010 - 2015
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