A variety of different claims may be available, depending on all the facts. The two most commonly made claims by disappointed spouses are a claim for equalization of net family property under the Family Law Act of Ontario and/or a claim for “dependant relief” under the Succession Law Reform Act of Ontario.
The claim for equalization of net family property is available only to legally married spouses, not to persons who are living together in a conjugal relationship but who are not married. The equalization claim must generally be filed within six months of the spouse’s death. The result of a successful claim for equalization of net family property will typically involve a court Order requiring the executor of the deceased spouse to pay a lump sum of money to the surviving spouse and which has the effect of diving the value of relevant family wealth that was accumulated during the marriage. Needless to say, if the surviving spouse already has a greater share of the family wealth in his or her name, such a claim would not be filed.
The claim for “dependant relief’ is available to a broad class of family members that includes former spouses, legally married and common-law spouses. Such claims may also be available to children, parents and brothers and sisters of the deceased. If the deceased was paying support to such a person or was under a legal obligation to do so before he or she died and failed to make adequate provision for the “dependant”, a judge can an order that a lump sum or periodic payment be made to that person from the deceased person’s estate. A wide variety of factors can be taken into account in every case.