Please note that this page only applies to Ontario family law. Each province’s laws regarding wills are different.
The first important point is that wills are automatically revoked by marriage. If you anticipate getting married in the near future, then your will should specifically state that it is being made in anticipation of marriage.
The relevant statutory provision is section 16(a) of the Succession Law Reform Act, which provides:
“A will is revoked by the marriage of the testator except where there is a declaration in the will that it is made in contemplation of the marriage.”
The next important point is that a will is NOT affected by a separation. If you and your spouse separate and you pass away, your spouse may still receive property under your will.
Finally, on divorce, the parts of your will dealing with your spouse are automatically revoked. Other provisions remain intact.
The relevant statutory provision is section 17(2) of the Succession Law Reform Act, which provides:
Except when a contrary intention appears by the will, where, after the testator makes a will, his or her marriage is terminated by a judgment absolute of divorce or is declared a nullity,
(a) a devise or bequest of a beneficial interest in property to his or her former spouse;
(b) an appointment of his or her former spouse as e xecutor or trustee; and
(c) the conferring of a general or special power of appointment on his or her former spouse,
are revoked and the will shall be construed as if the former spouse had predeceased the testator.
When you and your spouse separate, be sure to speak with your Ontario family law lawyer about having a new will prepared.
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