Wills, Estate & Power of Attorney

Updating Wills and Estate Plans After Divorce in Ontario: What You Need to Know

Written by Russell Alexander ria@russellalexander.com / (905) 655-6335

In 2024, navigating life changes includes ensuring that your legal and financial affairs reflect your current situation. After a divorce in Ontario, updating your will and estate plan is crucial to ensure your wishes are respected and your assets are distributed according to your desires. This article outlines the key steps and considerations for updating your will and estate plan post-divorce in Ontario.

Understanding the Impact of Divorce on Your Will and Estate Plan

  1. Automatic Revocation: In Ontario, certain provisions in your will are automatically revoked upon divorce. For example, any appointment of your former spouse as executor or any gifts to your former spouse are typically nullified unless the will explicitly states otherwise.
  2. Comprehensive Review Needed: While some changes are automatic, a divorce does not invalidate your entire will. It’s crucial to review and update your entire estate plan to reflect your new circumstances.

Key Steps in Updating Your Will and Estate Plan

  1. Revoke and Redraft Your Will: It’s often advisable to revoke your old will and create a new one. This ensures clarity and reflects your current wishes regarding executors, guardians for minor children, and distribution of your assets.
  2. Update Beneficiary Designations: Review and update beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other financial products. These designations often override your will, so it’s crucial they reflect your current intentions.
  3. Powers of Attorney: Update your powers of attorney for both property and personal care. Ensure the individuals you’ve designated are still those you trust to make decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so.
  4. Trusts and Other Estate Tools: If you have established any trusts or used other estate planning tools, review and adjust these as necessary. This might involve changing trustees or the terms of the trust.

Considerations for a New Estate Plan

  1. New Beneficiaries: Consider who you want to benefit from your estate now. This may include children, new partners, other family members, friends, or charities.
  2. Guardianship for Minor Children: If you have minor children, decide who will be their guardian if you pass away. This is especially important if you’re the custodial parent.
  3. Asset Protection: If you’re entering a new relationship, consider how you want your assets to be protected or distributed in the future. This might involve prenuptial agreements or trusts.
  4. Tax Implications: Be aware of any tax implications of your estate plan. Consulting with a tax advisor can ensure that your estate is structured efficiently.

Seeking Professional Help

  1. Estate Planning Lawyer: Consult with a lawyer specializing in wills and estate planning. They can provide advice tailored to your specific situation and ensure your new will and estate plan are legally sound.
  2. Financial Advisor: A financial advisor can help you understand the financial implications of your new estate plan and assist with beneficiary designations and investment strategies.

Final Thoughts and Recommendations

Act Promptly: Update your estate plan as soon as possible after your divorce is finalized. This ensures that your wishes are clear and legally documented.

Regular Reviews: Life circumstances continue to change. Regularly review your will and estate plan every few years or after significant life events to ensure they remain up-to-date.

Communicate with Loved Ones: Discuss your estate plan with your loved ones, especially those who have roles in it. Clear communication can prevent misunderstandings and ensure that your wishes are carried out.


Divorce is a significant life event that necessitates a thorough review and update of your will and estate plan.

Bill Rogers, Managing Associate Lawyer

Taking the time to revise these documents post-divorce ensures that your assets are distributed according to your current wishes and that your loved ones are protected.

By understanding the necessary steps, considering all aspects of your estate, and seeking professional advice, you can create a comprehensive estate plan that reflects your new chapter in life. Remember, an updated estate plan is not just about assets; it’s about providing clarity and peace of mind for both you and your loved ones.

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About the author

Russell Alexander

Russell Alexander is the Founder & Senior Partner of Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers.