In Ontario, if you marry, your will is automatically revoked. Whenever I say this, even if the person I am speaking to is a bit surprised, they see the logic: revoking your will means that you do not accidentally disinherit a new spouse simply because you forgot to update your will. If you are getting married, you can either do a will in contemplation of marriage, or you can do a will immediately after you marry. Either way, you should seriously consider having a will in place so that your assets can transfer more easily on your death.
The same is true for the end of a marriage – except that your will is not automatically revoked. When you divorce, your will is treated as if your spouse died before you. This is fine, unless of course your alternate executor is your former brother-in-law and you left everything to charity because you did your will before your children were born. Divorce is another good time to seriously think about updating your will.
The most important time, however, is on separation. Separation does not revoke a will, and your former spouse is not written out of your will, either. If you die after separating and before you have a separation agreement, your former spouse will inherit exactly as you had specified in your will that you made after you got married, or in accordance with the law if you don’t have a will. Most people do not want this to happen. The only way to avoid it? Do a will!