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Charlie’s SMART Advice Blog


A new marriage automatically revokes an existing will


Did you know

Let’s consider this scenario: Robert is a man in his 60s who lives in Ottawa. He has been divorced from his wife for 15 years and they have two sons together. Robert meets a lovely woman named Elizabeth at a Golf and Country Club, and after a five-year courtship, Robert and Elizabeth decide to get married.

Robert and his financial advisor drew up a will a few years ago. The will specifies that all of Robert’s assets will go to his sons, so his marriage to Elizabeth shouldn’t change anything, right? WRONG.

  • What the law says: A marriage in Ontario automatically revokes an existing will unless that will is made expressly in contemplation of the specific impending marriage.
  • What the law means: Unless Robert drafted his will with his future marriage to Elizabeth—not just any woman—in mind, all of the provisions in that will are no longer valid. If Robert dies without fixing the problem, he’ll die in testate, which means that the majority of Robert’s assets will automatically go to Elizabeth, not his two sons.
  • What Robert can do: Robert can draft a new will that contemplates his marriage to Elizabeth before the ceremony, or he can draw up a new will after he gets married. That way, when Robert dies, his wishes will be honoured.

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