Do you know that without a valid will, the government has the power to divide your hard-earned assets?

In Ontario, if a spouse dies without a will, the surviving spouse will receive the first $200,000 of the estate, and the remaining assets must be divided between the surviving spouse and the children. This provision does not extend to common-law partners, who receive nothing unless it is specifically stipulated in a will.

This could create a huge problem for the family. What if a husband wants his estate to go to his non-working spouse to replace his income flow while she recovers from his death? Or what if the children are too young or too unworldly for such inheritances? Inheritances received before the age of 18 are held by a trustee and cannot be immediately accessed if needed. Once the children become of age, they are given the inheritance, but the question remains of how well an 18-year-old can manage a significantly large sum of money.

These and other considerations for your unique circumstances should be discussed with your estate planner. Your discussions with an expert today could eliminate further grief for your loved ones when you are not around to guide them.

If you would like your loved ones and favourite charities such as Scarborough Health Network Foundation to benefit from the assets you work hard to accumulate, then you should have a valid will.

The process is not as expensive as many people may think – a few hundred dollars, more or less – depending on the complexity of your situation. Careful planning and a solid will can save expensive future costs by avoiding the legal fees to sort out and distribute your assets after death. This is especially important if you are in a blended family or own a business.

For more information on estate planning, please visit the Ministry of Attorney General website at

If you would like to learn more about leaving a gift to SHN Foundation in your will, contact Verna Chen at or 416-219-5789.