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What can Happen When Common Law Spouse Suddenly Dies?

In Ontario, the rules regarding financial compensation for a surviving common-law partner, when their partner dies are different from those that apply to married couples. In general, common-law partners do not have the same automatic rights to inherit or receive financial compensation as married spouses.

However, there are some potential avenues for financial support that a surviving common-law partner can explore:

1. Dependent’s Relief Claim: Under the Succession Law Reform Act in Ontario, a surviving common-law partner who was financially dependent on the deceased partner may be eligible to make a claim for the dependent’s relief. This claim allows them to seek financial support from the deceased partner’s Estate. The court will assess the circumstances and determine if there is a valid claim for support based on factors such as the length of the relationship, the level of dependence, and the deceased partner’s financial means.
2. Jointly Held Assets: If there are jointly held assets between the common-law partners, such as a jointly owned property or a joint bank account, the surviving partner may retain ownership of their share of those assets.
3. Written Agreements or Contracts: If the common-law partners had any written agreements or contracts in place, such as cohabitation agreements or domestic partnership agreements, these documents could outline specific financial provisions and obligations upon death.

It’s important to note that the laws regarding common-law relationships and Estates can be complex, and the specific circumstances of each case will influence the outcome. Seeking legal advice from an estate lawyer experienced in Ontario law is highly recommended to understand the options and potential entitlements available to the surviving common-law partner.

Read our blog post about what to say if your adult kids ask for their inheritance early

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This material is for general information and educational purposes only. Information is based on data gathered from what we believe are reliable sources. It is not guaranteed as to accuracy, does not purport to be complete and is not intended to be used as a primary basis for investment decisions.