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Inheritance law in Canada

Inheritance law in Canada is constitutionally a provincial matter. Therefore, the laws governing inheritance in Canada is legislated by each individual province.

Intestate successionEdit

Where a person dies intestate, the following general rules apply:

  • Where the spouse survives, all the estate goes to the spouse.
  • Where there is a spouse and a child or children, the estate is divided as follows:[1]
Province Preferential share to spouse (after debts are paid) Remaining assets (spouse + 1 child) Remaining assets (spouse + >1 child) Notes
  British Columbia $300,000 if both the deceased and the spouse are parents of the descendants. $150,000 if the spouse is not parent to all the descendants.[2] 1/2 to spouse, 1/2 to child [3] 1/2 to spouse, 1/2 to children [4] "Spouse":
  • Were married or in a marriage-like relationship for 2 years up until the death.[5]
  • Spouses aren't considered to have separated if they reconcile and live together again within one year of separation, and they continue to live together for one or more periods totalling 90 days. [6]
  Alberta nil All to spouse, where all of the children are also children of the surviving spouse. Otherwise, prescribed amount or 1/2 (whichever is greater) to spouse, and remainder to child. All to spouse, where all of the children are also children of the surviving spouse. Otherwise, prescribed amount or 1/2 (whichever is greater) to spouse, and remainder to children. "Spouse":
  • Includes an adult interdependent partner
  • Excludes those separated for more than two years, or who had previously executed a separation agreement
Special rules where there is both a surviving spouse and a surviving adult interdependent partner
Where adult interdependent partner is also related to the deceased, there is exclusion from any further allocation from the estate
  Saskatchewan $100,000 1/2 to spouse, 1/2 to child 1/3 to spouse, 2/3 to children "Spouse":
  • Includes common-law partners
  • Excludes legally married spouses who were cohabiting with someone else at the date of death
  Manitoba $50,000 or 1/2 (whichever is greater) All to spouse, where all of the children are also children of the surviving spouse. Otherwise, 1/2 to spouse, 1/2 to child. All to spouse, where all of the children are also children of the surviving spouse. Otherwise, 1/2 to spouse, 1/2 to children. "Spouse":
  • Includes common-law partners
  • Includes separated spouses and common-law partners who had not previously divided their assets under a separation agreement
  Ontario $200,000 1/2 to spouse, 1/2 to child 1/3 to spouse, 2/3 to children
  • Extends only to legally married spouses
  • Spouse may opt for equalization payment under s. 5 of the Family Law Act, if it results in a greater share
  • Intestacy benefit is in addition to any separation payment received previously or upon death
  Quebec nil 1/3 to spouse, 2/3 to child 1/3 to spouse, 2/3 to children "Spouse":
Where a marriage contract or a notarial civil union contract exists, any relevant provisions in it will supersede the rules on intestate succession
  New Brunswick Marital property 1/2 to spouse, 1/2 to child 1/3 to spouse, 2/3 to children
  • Extends only to legally married spouses
"Child" does not include a stepchild
  Nova Scotia $50,000 1/2 to spouse, 1/2 to child 1/3 to spouse, 2/3 to children
  • Extends only to legally married spouses
  • Excludes spouses "living in adultery", i.e. in another conjugal relationship whether registered or not [1]
  • Spouse may claim "matrimonial home" instead of share, regardless of value [2]
  • "Child" does not include a stepchild or a child raised by a non-biological parent that has not been legally adopted
  Prince Edward Island nil 1/2 to spouse, 1/2 to child 1/3 to spouse, 2/3 to children
  • Extends only to legally married spouses
  • "Child" does not include a stepchild
  Newfoundland and Labrador nil 1/2 to spouse, 1/2 to child 1/3 to spouse, 2/3 to children
  • Extends only to legally married spouses
  • "Child" does not include a stepchild
  • Spouse may opt for equalization payment under the Family Law Act, if it results in a greater share
  Yukon $75,000 1/2 to spouse, 1/2 to child 1/3 to spouse, 2/3 to children
  • Common-law spouses may apply to the court for a share of the estate
  • "Child" does not include a stepchild
  Northwest Territories $50,000 1/2 to spouse, 1/2 to child 1/3 to spouse, 2/3 to children "Spouse":
  • Includes common-law partners
  • Excludes legally married spouses who were cohabiting with someone else at the date of death, had initiated divorce proceedings and had not reconciled, or had previously divided their assets on separation
  • Excludes a legally married spouse where the intestate had entered into a spousal relationship with another person
"Child" does not include a stepchild
  Nunavut $50,000 1/2 to spouse, 1/2 to child 1/3 to spouse, 2/3 to children As for NWT
  • Where there is no surviving spouse but there are surviving children, the estate is divided equally among the children.
  • Where there is no surviving spouse or children, the estate devolves according to the rules of consanguinity.
  • Where no heir can be determined, the estate is declared bona vacantia and escheats to the Crown.

ReferencesEdit