Effect of Marriage or 24 Months of Cohabitation on Your Will – Changes to the Wills Act

The law in Saskatchewan used to be that an existing will would be revoked when the will maker married or upon the will maker cohabiting in a spousal relationship continuously for two years, unless there was a declaration in the will that it was made in contemplation of marriage or cohabitation in a spousal relationship.

This meant that if an existing will of a person made prior to getting legally married or cohabiting in a spousal relationship did not have the required declaration stating that it was being made “in contemplation of marriage” or “in contemplation of cohabitation in a spousal relationship” their will would become invalid upon their marriage or cohabitation of 24 months.

This law has now changed. Effective March 16, 2020 these sections of The Wills Act were repealed. This means a will made prior to a marriage or cohabitation of 24 months that occurs on or after March 16, 2020 will remain valid until a new will is created. A declaration in the will that it is made in contemplation of marriage or cohabiting in a spousal relationship is no longer required for it to remain valid upon a marriage or cohabitation of 24 months occurring on or after March 16, 2020.

To be clear, this change is not retroactive. A will that was revoked because of a marriage or cohabitation of 24 months occurring prior to March 16, 2020 will remain revoked.

These changes were enacted concurrently with changes to The Marriage Act which allows family members of a person to apply to court to nullify a marriage if a person did not have the capacity to provide valid consent.

It is important to have a legally valid will and to review it periodically to ensure its provisions are appropriate having regard to your life circumstances at any given point in time. When a person dies without a legally valid will in place they will be found to have died “intestate” and the beneficiaries of their estate will be determined in accordance with The Intestate Succession Act.

It is especially important to have your estate planning documents reviewed when there has been a significant change in your life such as marriage or cohabitation of 24 months so you can make necessary updates. Starting a family, acquiring significant property with your spouse or others, and dealing with added complexities of succession planning if you are an owner of a business are other examples of significant changes in your life warranting a review and update your will.

The lawyers at Robertson Stromberg would be pleased to guide you through these changes and provide you with practical advice for your estate planning. For more information please contact Darlene N. Wingerak at d.wingerak@rslaw.com

This post is for information purposes only and should not be relied on for legal advice. Please contact Robertson Stromberg LLP for legal advice concerning your case.


Why Do I Need a Will?

A commonly asked question is why do I need a will? Your will sets out what is to happen to your assets (more commonly known as your estate) when you pass away. If you pass away without a will then your estate falls into what is called intestacy. An intestate estate puts more strain and stress on your loved ones as they will first have to all agree upon and determine who will administer the estate and then do so in the absence of a formal will.

Administering an intestate estate often involves more steps than one with a will and also makes the estate subject to The Intestate Succession Act, 2019 (the “Act”) for determining who stands to benefit from your estate. The Act not only sets out who is to benefit from your estate but also in what proportions, regardless of what you may have otherwise wanted. Having a proper will therefore not only makes it easier to obtain letters probate from the court but also control who is to benefit from your estate and in what way. Failure to have a properly drafted will can also lead to more conflict and expense as loved ones argue over what they believe your testamentary intentions were.

Having a properly drafted and executed will is beneficial for your loved ones to ensure that your intentions are met, and they are looked after. A properly done up will along with appropriate estate planning can also save your estate money, ultimately leaving more for your loved ones. It can also assist them sooner in ensuring your assets from your estate flow to them in a more expeditious manner.

For more information on having your will prepared or estate planning, please contact Ben Parsonson at b.parsonson@rslaw.com or at 306-933-1353.

Am I entitled to be notified that my family member has made a new Will?

When a loved one passes away unexpectedly, the shock can be made worse by finding out that the deceased also had made a new will totally contrary to their former will.

Sometimes clients will ask me if it is legal for their loved one to make a new will, cutting out family members, or naming a new executor, all without notifying the prior executor or beneficiaries?

The answer is that yes, a person is entitled to make as many wills as they want, provided they have capacity. Moreover, there is no law requiring a will-maker to notify their prior executor, or their affected beneficiaries.

However, if you are making a new will, it is good advice to notify all of your affected beneficiaries or prior executor. Explaining what your wishes are during your lifetime, can better avoid the chance that they are later surprised by your new will, or suspicious of what motivated it.

James Steele’s preferred practise area is estate litigation, including will challenges, executor disputes, power of attorney issues, etc. Contact James Steele at 1-306-933-1338 or j.steele@rslaw.com. The above is for general information only. Parties should always seek legal advice prior to taking action in specific situations. 

Estate planning in a time of uncertainty

As the world changes in response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, you may wonder how you can legally best protect yourself, and loved ones. The present is a good time to make certain that you have certain crucial legal documents in place.

Last Will and Testament

Every adult should have a Will in place at all times. The Will ensures your instructions are honoured after your passing. You will name a party to be your executor, and you will clearly set out the terms you wish for the distribution of your property. It is encouraged that you consult a lawyer in drafting your Will, to ensure the Will is not easily challenged, or subject to misinterpretation.

Power of Attorney

With the advent of Covid-19, many people may need to provide care to elderly parents. If your parents wish you to make such decisions, it is very important that you have the legal authority to do so.

The legal way to confer such decision making power is through a power of attorney, naming someone as the “attorney”. A grantor should only choose someone you trust implicitly – you will be giving them immediate power over your banking, money, and property.

If someone has an illness such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, and is therefore already unable to make their own decisions, they will not be able to validly name an attorney. Instead, a loved one may need to seek a court-appointed guardianship order to be able to make decisions on their behalf.

Health Care Directive

A Health Care Directive allows you to express your wishes regarding medical treatment. This document can become important if you later lose the ability to speak or communicate. The Health Care Directive will name a proxy to make medical decisions for you.

Making sure that you have signed the above legal documents to better protect yourself is a means to exert control in this time of uncertainty. And given the current impetus to stay at home, what better time to deal with estate planning? For any specific questions, readers are encouraged to consult a lawyer.

The above is for general information only. Parties should seek legal advice prior to taking action in specific situations. Robertson Stromberg LLP offers legal advice and representation in all areas of law, including experience in estate planning, and estate litigation.

Andrew Gaucher Presents at “Planning Ahead Seminar”

On Wednesday June 26, Andrew Gaucher will be speaking about the importance of Estate Planning at the “Planning Ahead Seminar” hosted by Hillcrest Memorial Gardens & Funeral Home.  The evening session, beginning at 6:30 will also include other planning aspects such as funeral pre-planning, insurance and real estate.

There is no cost or registration required.

Hillcrest is located at 210 Wess Road, Saskatoon.

Area of Expertise Wills, Estates, Trusts, Health Care Directives and Powers of Attorney