Kimberly Whaley and Albert Oosterhoof are quoted in Tom Blackwell’s recent article in the National Post – “Niece loses inheritance to uncle’s new friend” – about the growing phenomenon of predatory marriage.
A predatory marriage is one in which a generally younger individual – usually a care-giver or new friend – marries an elderly often incapacitated person. As Albert Oosterhoof notes in the article, once they are hitched the alleged predator is almost guaranteed to come away richer, partly because of outdated laws in most Canadian provinces. In all provinces but Alberta, B.C. and Quebec, once someone marries, any will they have previously executed is void. In Ontario, that means the predatory spouse has a right to the first $200,000 of the estate, and a portion of the residue. As Kimberly Whaley states in her interview, part of the problem is that the test for having mental capacity to marry is minimal, and at the discretion of the person officiating.
Predatory marriage is a growing problem in Ontario given the aging population and because individuals are living longer. This issue needs to be addressed at the legislative level and as part of larger social policy discussions about the care of older people in Canada.