Ontario statute dictates that if a person dies without a will (intestate), their surviving spouse, issue, parent, sibling, or niece or nephew should inherit the net estate in that order of priority. Where none of these relatives survive, the estate is distributed according to the table of consanguinity or bloodlines. This table designates progressively distant degrees of blood relationships, thereby classifying relatives by their blood connection to the intestate person. The higher the designated numerical degree attributed to a class of relative, the more distant their blood relationship is said to be. Thus, for example, where an intestate is survived by only a grand nephew, a first cousin and a first cousin once removed, the net estate will be divided equally between the grand nephew and the first cousin.
[Diagram used by permission of Creative Commons by license]
The table of consanguinity should not be consulted for any situation in which the intestate is survived by a spouse, issue, parent, sibling or niece or nephew due to the rules set out in provincial statute. It is only when these relatives do not survive the intestate that the table of consanguinity applies.
Incidentally, if a person dies intestate and has no surviving relatives, the government assumes ownership of the net estate, which is then said to “escheat to the Crown”.
In Greenshields, Re 1914 CarswellOnt 225, 26 O.W.R. 309, 6 O.W.N. 303, although Miss Greenshields had made a will, dated March 21, 1902, due to her brother pre-deceasing her, an intestacy was created regarding part of her estate amounting to about $50,000. The father, mother and all lineal ancestors of the testatrix had predeceased her, and no brother or sister, nor any child of any brother or sister, survived the deceased. In the end, the judge held that half-sisters and brothers of the testatrix`s mother are entitled to rank as sole next of kin while descendants of half or whole brothers and sisters of the testatrix`s mother or father were excluded. The fact that they were half-blood did not exclude them from sharing in the estate as it had been established, as it still is today, that relations of the whole-blood are to be treated the same as relations of the half-blood.
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