Updated: Mar 5, 2021
Not all Provincial estate laws are equal. As an example Ontario was the first Canadian Province to recognize same-sex marriages in 2003, however it still has discriminatory practices when it comes to common law couples.
Even today, in 2020 in Ontario if you are in a common law relationship and your partner passes without a will, you have no legal rights to their assets even though you have shared a life together for years! Instead, assets go to the closest blood relative – such as parents, children or siblings – requiring a common-law partner to fight using other provincial legislation for a share of assets or for financial support.
Unfortunately, Ontario in not the only Province that this can happen in. As obvious as it sounds, if you are in a common law relationship you and your partner need wills. You may also consider drawing up a “domestic contract” to outline what happens if your common law relationship ends. Although these are not easy discussions to have, they are necessary – especially if there are children involved.
You should also reconsider who you name as a beneficiary for any life insurance coverage you have and of course, purchasing insurance, if you don’t have any. Naming your common law partner as your beneficiary will ensure they receive the proceeds – free of tax, with no delay and it bypasses the will so nobody can challenge it. Financial planning for common law couples is vital given the laws in Canada are not uniform.