If you die without a Will you are considered to have died "intestate." Unfortunately, many individuals believe that if they were to die without a Will that their estate would simply pass to their spouse. While a spouse and children will likely end up with the estate's assets it is very likely it will not happen exactly as you would have intended.
Each province has a set of intestacy rules that define the estate's beneficiaries and how much each is to receive. These rules are fairly simple in that they do not allow for any flexibility in how much and who will benefit from your estate.
Typically, the spouse will receive a preferential share of the estate ranging from the first $40,000 to $200,000 of estate assets. The balance of the estate is divided between the surviving spouse and children.
Most provinces do not recognize the common-law spouse status under their intestacy rules. This may result in a common law spouse being left out of the estate entirely. However, in most provinces, a common law spouse may petition the courts for support as a dependent.
In addition to the above issues, there are many other problems that can arise from dying without a Will.
For more information on Wills, please see: Methods of Transferring Your Estate.