praying businessmanby Margaret Janecki, EPC, Independent Financial Advisor

No one wants to think about dying. But if you don’t plan for your final days, it could cause additional stress to your family and friends, especially at a time when they’ll be grieving.

Ensuring the assets from your estate get into the intended hands should be easy. But it’s not. Without careful planning, unclearly worded wills can spark challenges, ill thought out beneficiary selections can appear biased, and poorly executed joint ownership documents can leave too many assets in too few hands.

Any one of these mistakes can lead to family destroying fights among heirs. And you aren’t always keen to have these conversations, since you are forced to think about your demise. But have them you must.

If you were to die without a will, your property would be divided according to the laws governing family patrimony, matrimonial regimes and supplemental pension plans of your province, in this case, Ontario. You should also be aware that your creditors will be paid before your property is divided among your heirs.

Spouse only (no children): Entire estate to spouse.

Spouse (with one child): The first $75,000 to the spouse, the remainder to the spouse and child in equal shares.

Spouse (with children): The first $75,000 to the spouse, 1/3 of the remainder to the spouse and 2/3 to the children

No spouse (with children): Everything to the child or children

No spouse and no children: Everything to the closest relative, usually in the following order:

  • The parents;
  • If neither of the parents is living, the brothers and sisters;
  • If there are no surviving brothers or sisters, the nephews and nieces;
  • If there are no surviving nephews or nieces, the closest surviving relative;
  • If no surviving relative can be found, the Province/Crown is the beneficiary.

The foregoing distribution is subject to federal and provincial laws which may take precedence to the distribution under existing provincial intestacy legislation.

So use this checklist to create a “just in-case” file. And make sure your executor(s) know where this information is stored.

  • Vital statistics (self, partner, children and other beneficiaries).
  • Information about Powers of Attorney for financial and personal care.
  • Contact details of advisors, accountants, lawyers, and other professionals.
  • Location of the original will and partner’s will.
  • Details about funeral arrangements and cemetery plot.
  • Safety deposit box information.

As a gift to you, I have available complimentary checklists, contact me at or call 905-206-9387 or 519-573-3147.

  1. Assets and Personal Documents.
  2. Estate planning checklist – families with adult children
  3. Estate planning checklist – blended families
  4. Property Inventory

Also, if you’re married or in a common law relationship, both you and your spouse’s wills must detail what should happen in the following situations:

  1. If your spouse or partner predeceases you;
  2. If you predecease your spouse or partner; and
  3. If you both die at the same time.

In our next issue, I will give you some insider tips on your role as Executor, because, for the most part, people just don’t know what they don’t know.

In the meanwhile, I have time on my calendar for the first five of you to reach out to me at 905-206-9387 so you can get this information and more WITHOUT having to wait…..because tomorrow is promised to no one.