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Ontario permits larger payments to parents of a child, updates rules for wills

May 28, 2021

Ontario permits larger payments to parents of a child, updates rules for wills

On April 19, 2021, Ontario Bill 245, the Accelerating Access to Justice Act, 2021, received royal assent. Bill 245 introduces certain reforms intended to improve access to justice. Among these reforms, are certain amendment to the Succession Law Reform Act (SLRA) and the Children’s Law Reform Act (CLRA). A number of key changes to these statutes have been summarized below.

Payments to the parent of a child

Bill 245 increases the amount that can be paid directly to the parent or custodian of the child from $10,000 to $35,000.   For amounts greater than $35,000, the parent or custodian is required to obtain a court order appointing them as their child’s guardian of property or the funds will be paid into court, to be given to the child at age 18. 

Also, amounts owed to a child now expressly include money payable under a judgement or court order, which was previously excluded from the application of that subsection, and money payable on intestacy (i.e., all or part of an estate that is not covered by a will).

This change is effective immediately.

Changes respecting wills in Ontario

Remote witnessing of wills

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario permitted temporary virtual witnessing of wills and powers of attorney to maintain safe social distancing. Bill 245 now permits permanent virtual witnessing of wills and powers of attorney, where at least one witness is a licensed paralegal or lawyer in Ontario, for a will made on and after April 7, 2020.

Courts can validate technically invalid wills

A new section 21.1 has been added to the SLRA to provide the Superior Court of Justice authority to, on application, make an order validating a technically invalid will, which is a document or writing that was not properly executed or made under the SLRA. This is available only where the court is satisfied that the document or writing sets out the intentions of a deceased, or an intention of the deceased to revoke, alter, or revive a will of the deceased. This provision comes into effect upon proclamation, which will be no earlier than January 1, 2022.

New marriage no longer automatically revokes an existing will

Bill 245 provides that a will is no longer automatically revoked by a subsequent marriage of the testator. This provision comes into effect upon proclamation, which will be no earlier than January 1, 2022.

Gifts to separated spouses in a will are cancelled

Bill 245 provides that any gifts to a separated spouse in a will or appointments of a separated spouse in a will are cancelled.  Previously, this rule only applied to divorced spouses.  This provision comes into effect upon proclamation, which will be no earlier than January 1, 2022.

 

Conclusion

Bill 245 amounts to a modernization of a number of features relating to payments to children and wills in Ontario, among other things.  In particular, the increase in the threshold for amounts that can be paid to the parents of a child will be of assistance to administrators of pension and benefit plans who are required to pay death benefits to children in Ontario.

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