Effective January 1, 2022: Changes Improving Access to Justice in Estate Matters
Further to our Estate Litigation blog posts on March 23, 2021, and May 6, 2021, outlining the steps that the Ontario government was taking to improve access to justice in estate matters, the Lieutenant Governor has proclaimed that the Schedule 9 to Bill 245 will come into effect on January 1, 2022.
Bill 245, otherwise known as the Accelerating Access to Justice Act, 2021, will provide for significant changes to the Succession Law Reform Act (“SLRA”).
Changes improving access to justice
The changes introduced by sections 2 to 6 of Schedule 9 of Bill 245 are important. They are listed below:
- Section 15(a) and 16 of the SLRA will be repealed, such that marriage will no longer revoke a will;
- Section 17 of the SLRA is amended to include separated spouses, such that any testamentary gift made to a spouse will be revoked. The section defines when spouses are considered to be separated, including if, at the time of the testator’s death, the testator and the spouse lived separate and apart as a result of the breakdown of their marriage.
- A new section 21.1 is to be added to the SLRA providing for court ordered validation of a Will that was not properly executed or made under the SLRA (stay tuned for an upcoming blog regarding the impact of this change); and
- A new section 43.1 is added to the SLRA providing that the spousal entitlements under the intestacy provisions do not apply if the individual was separated from their spouse at the time of their death. As a result, the surviving separated spouse would not be entitled to the share of the deceased’s property under Part II of the SLRA (intestacy).
We are very excited to see how these amendments to the SLRA will change access to justice for Ontarians and the impact these changes will have on the evolution of case law in Ontario.
We will continue to monitor how the government brings the Accelerating Access to Justice Act, 2021 into force. If you have questions about how these changes to the SLRA might affect you, please contact the Estate Litigation Team at Merovitz Potechin LLP.
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