Family Law Act Claims

Estate Litigation Lawyers Advising Clients on Family Law Act Claims in Estate Disputes

Married spouses will typically consider one another in their estate planning and will make provisions for one another in their wills and other important legal documents. Following the death of their husband or wife, a surviving spouse has two choices:

  • They can take what their spouse provided for them in the will; or
  • They can elect to file a claim against the spouse’s estate for an equalization payment under the Family Law Act. These claims can also be made in situations where a spouse dies without a valid will.

Each of these options has significant consequences for both the estate, the surviving spouse, as well as any other beneficiaries. It is important for both testators (i.e. those writing a will) as well as their spouses to understand what their rights are, how they can best plan for the future by minimizing risk, and maximizing benefits to the surviving spouse and any other beneficiaries. These consequences are also important for those considering a second marriage, and those whose next relationship will result in a blended family.

At Sweatman Law Firm, our team of experienced lawyers have assisted countless clients in managing their estates. Our founder and Managing Partner Jasmine Sweatman has more than two decades of extensive experience in estate law, including complex estate planning, the creation of trusts, and estate Society of Upper Canada and leads a team of accomplished lawyers who each have a record of excellence in their respective practice areas.

Making a Claim under the Family Law Act

The Family Law Act creates a statutory right of equalization upon the death of a spouse, much like in a separation. This confers the right of equalization on the surviving spouse.  Importantly, the parties have to be legally married at the time to trigger this right, which means that the situation for common-law spouses is slightly different. This may also have an impact on individuals who are in a second or subsequent marriage at the time of their death.

A surviving spouse who chooses to pursue an equalization payment can also pursue a Dependant’s Support Claim at the same time.  There are tight timelines for making an election, and surviving spouses should consult with an experienced estate lawyer as soon as possible in order to understand their rights and make a decision appropriate to their particular circumstances.

Contact Our Knowledgeable Trusts Lawyers for Guidance with Family Law Act Claims Following the Death of a Spouse

If you would like to discuss options available to you following the death of your spouse, or if you would like to ensure your spouse will be adequately provided for following your death, contact Sweatman Law Firm online or at 905-337-3307. For your convenience, we have offices located in Oakville, Milton and Georgetown.