Other Dependents

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Common-Law Spouse Support and Relief

Common-law spouses do not have the same rights as married partners. 

If you are a common-law spouse, you may have a claim to the estate as a dependent.

First you need to meet the definition of a spouse, which is if you:

  1. Lived with the deceased for a period not less than 3 years continuously; or 
  2. Had a relationship of permanence (legally meaningful) if you share a child, whether adopted or natural.

Then you need to meet the definition of dependent:

A dependent is a  a parent, child, spouse or sibling of the deceased, to whom the deceased had been providing support (financially, physically/moral support) immediately before their death or was legally bound (e.g., child support) to provide support, as per Part 5 of the Succession Law Reform Act (SLRA).

Children, parents, grandparents, grandchildren and a person who is incapable may also meet the test as a dependent. 

What Happens if I Have a Separated Spouse?

As of January 1, 2022, legislation (law) has changed to reflect that separated spouses have no property rights (meaning no right to share in the deceased’s estate).

If a death occurs after December 31st, 2021 and the spouses have been separated for longer than 3 years, then they are seen equal to a divorced couple. This means that they do not receive a preferential share (entitlement to be received on an intestacy – when there is no will) and they are not first in line to serve as the estate trustee.

Procedure for a Claim

Courts recognize that a deceased holds a moral obligation for the needs of dependents, including spouses, child, parents, and disabled individuals.

When someone makes a claim (goes to court to seek relief) for support (money) as a dependent, it is a claim for support in addition to what they may receive per the will or rules of intestacy.

The dependent would file a Notice of Application for their Dependent Support Claim. In the application, it is important that the applicant refers to the factors set out in s.62 of the Succession of Law Reform Act that the Court will consider in their decision:

  • Age, physical, and mental health;
  • Accustomed standard of living;
  • Duration and proximity of relationship;
  • Ability to provide own support;
  • Size of estate;
  • Contributions made to the deceased;
  • Contribution of chores and household duties, etc.



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