Marriage and the Revocation of Wills

If you have executed a will before getting married in Ontario, it is automatically revoked upon marriage. This means, the entire will is invalid. One way to avoid this is to make a will in contemplation of marriage.

A will made with marriage in mind, must contain a statement that makes reference to the upcoming marriage along with the name of the spouse. You can also state that the will is conditional upon the marriage actually taking place. What you decide to do will depend on your own unique circumstance.

For those who have insurance policies or other registered plans, and are in the situation where they remarry after a divorce, it is important to take the time to review said policies. Insurance policies and other registered plans are not revoked by marriage or remarriage. It is your responsibility to call your insurance company and change the beneficiary designation.

If you get a divorce, your will is not automatically invalid. Rather, it is only the provision in the will that refers to your spouse that is not revoked. This means that a former spouse, referred to in the will, will no longer be the executor, trustee or guardian. Any gifts left to the former spouse may go to someone else depending on the structure of the will.

Similarly, beneficiary designations relating to insurance policies, RRSPs, RRIFs and pensions are not affected by divorce, or separation from a common-law spouse. You are responsible for taking steps to change the beneficiary designation to reflect your own wishes.