The Family Law Connection
A Wills & Estates Perspective
By Jaclyn Giffen, B.Soc.Sci., J.D., M.A.
In many Canadian provinces, including Ontario under the Succession Law Reform Act (SLRA), by entering into a marriage any existing legal Last Will and Testament is automatically revoked. This means that the will that you would have made prior to such marriage is null and void, rendering you intestate (without a valid will) upon your death. The exception would be if your will contained a clause that stated that you made the will in consideration of marriage. A lawyer would be in the best position to ensure any will you execute is not revoked by operation of law.
Predatory marriages have become a pertinent issue in Ontario and are typically associated with the financial exploitation of vulnerable people, especially the elderly. This rule of law can make vulnerable people, who do not have the full capacity to make decisions on their own, easy targets for predatory marriages as a predatory partner can use their status as a “spouse” to gain access to the victim’s assets. Not only do predatory marriages affect the victimized spouse, but they also have an impact on the loved ones or charities who were the intended recipients of the victim’s assets within the individual’s previously executed testamentary documents.