Deadlines for Ontario Will Contests

How long can you wait to challenge a will?

In Ontario, there is no statutory deadline to contest a will. Some United States jurisdictions have strict time limits to object.

Are you an Ontario married spouse?

There is a deadline for making a Family Law Election. This is six months from the death of your spouse.

Married spouses with election rights can override the will. This is, strictly speaking, not a will contest.  However, the executor or estate trustee in Ontario must freeze the estate until the claim is resolved.

Are you are an Ontario common law spouse?

If you are not married you can still make claims for support and division of property. You must meet the legal test to find out if you are a spouse. 

Your claim for support must be filed within six months of the date probate of the will is obtained.

Are you a common law spouse with property claims?

If so, the deadline is not clear. Normally, you must start such property lawsuits within two years of the date of the person's passing.

If you are a dependant child, you have the right to apply for support. You would make this claim under the Succession Law Reform Act. Again, your deadline is six months from the date probate is obtained.

Practical issues

Legislation, in some cases, allows judges to extend deadlines. These are exceptions to the rule. It means you must ask the court for a favour. These are expensive, not clear-cut cases and thus dangerous. Any property already distributed may be out of reach and out of the country.

You want to contest a will as soon as possible. The risk is that assets are distributed or they disappear.

Contesting a will becomes much more difficult once the estate has been distributed.

Possession of Property has advantages

There is a reason why possession is called 9/10's of the law.

Once somebody has money in their hands, it's almost impossible to get it back.

The same goes for real estate. If you have a claim to property, once it has been transferred, it is very difficult to recover. You can arrange to put a certificate of pending litigation against the property. This is like a lien. It stops further dealings with the land. It is an expensive process.

Learn how to A.C.E. a will contest with my FREE guide Will Disputes: How to Increase Your Chances for Success.  Find more FREE guides on executor duties, estate planning and powers of attorney here.