An Estate Planning Wrinkle Many People Should Review

O’Sullivan Estate Lawyers is a boutique law firm in Toronto. A very good one in the area of wills, trusts, and estates. And they have awards to support that claim.

Most people spend little time worrying about their estate, but many are curious. To that, the firm publishes a blog with some interesting facts. Such a blog article appeared this week. Heads up on “Shacking Up”

Of interest to people in Ontario particularly and elsewhere generally

Many of the legal points are specific to Ontario but in other jurisdictions there are likely rules with similar effect. The idea of the article is to cause people to understand some of the issues that arise in common law situations when one of the partners dies. The need is real and the potential for costly litigation is clear.

According to the article common law relationships in the 1981 census accounted for 6.3% of the couples. While most of us would have assumed it would be higher by now, I am not so sure we would have guessed high enough. By 2016 it was 21.3%. A 3.5% growth rate. If that rate continues it will pass 25% within 18 months.

Any condition that affects 25% of the population is worth studying for its effects.

Questions to ask yourself

For this purpose a common law couple are a couple living together without benefit of marriage.

Some of the issues to consider.

  1. After three years, on breakup there could be a support order. Earlier if they have a child together.
  2. If a partner dies without a will, the survivor is not automatically entitled to a share of what would be “family property” in the ordinary estate procedures.
  3. The survivor will have no right to pension plans or insurance unless designated as a beneficiary.
  4. The survivor will not necessarily have a right to continue living in the couple’s former dwelling
  5. The survivor will have no automatic right to funds owned by the other.
  6. There will be complications if there are no powers of attorney for personal care. In general, substitute decision makers could be in the dark with no obvious path to clear that up.

Planning helps.

According to the O’Sullivan article, “No matter what stage you are at in life, whether you are a millennial, a baby boomer or a senior, it is important to have conversations around these topics with your partner, to seek legal advice and to effectively plan.”

Good advice. Take it to heart and act if it applies to you.


I help people understand and manage risk and other financial issues. To help them achieve and exceed their goals, I use tax efficiencies and design advantages. The result: more security, more efficient income, larger and more liquid estates.

Please be in touch if I can help you. don@moneyfyi.com 705-927-4770

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