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There is a lot of confusion about the rights of a surviving common-law spouse.  Although Canadian law recognizes a common-law relationship in the same manner as a marriage, things can change if the common-law spouse is not mentioned in the Last Will and Testament of the deceased spouse.  In such a case, the surviving spouse literally walks out of the house with their personal belongings and must go to court to have the will altered.  You can go to court if the following conditions are satisfied:

  • you must have been living with your spouse at the time of his or her death, 
  • you must have been living with your spouse in a marriage-like relationship for at least the two previous years, and 
  • the court case must be started within six months of the grant of probate.
The best way to avoid problems is to prepare a new set of Wills and Powers of Attorney in order to ensure that the rights of all parties to the estate are protected.


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