Provincial government introduces amendments to Marriage Act and Wills Act

Justice Minister Don Morgan announced some law changes are on the way affecting marriages and wills in Saskatchewan.

Changes were introduced to the Marriage Act and the Wills Act on Thursday at the Saskatchewan legislature.

Justice Minister Don Morgan mentioned how the idea for the changes stemmed after the government heard of situations where adults were financially exploited through marriage by family members or by a spouse.

He said this will give the ability for the court to set aside a marriage where the spouse lacked capacity.

“Under the current laws, you’re deemed to be capable of both writing a bill and getting married. When the courts apply the tests for wills it’s a fairly high standard, but for marriage there is nothing,” explained Morgan.

“[The amendment] gives a family member the ability to apply to set aside a marriage if they think somebody is taken advantage of, and it’s up to the court to look at the relevant facts.”

When asked if this is a widespread issue in the province, Morgan thinks it’s difficult to say.

“Sometimes you’ll hear virtually identical sets of facts that in one family is a matter of someone caring for an ageing person, and another case where they’ve taken advantage of them,” he shared to reporters.

Morgan feels there are shades of grey when dealing with these issues, so he hopes it’s a chance for individuals to look at the laws, find legal advice and to submit an appropriate application. Residents would have to go through a Queen’s Bench application in order to proceed.

He added that other jurisdictions in Canada are looking at similar changes as well.

NDP’s Sarauer believes Wills Act amendment is ‘pretty big change’

The change brought forth by the government repeals a condition in the Wills Act that cancels someone’s will once they are married or involved in a common-law relationship.

Nicole Sarauer, justice critic for the Sask. NDP, said the legislative changes are fairly common sense, but they’ll be paying close attention to the amendment of wills no longer being invalidated by marriage or common law status.

She said it’s a pretty major change for the province.

“I’m surprised about the change. We’re going to be watching it and consulting to see if there are concerns about wills and marriage in the province, and how other jurisdictions have treated it,” she stated. “We’re also concerned about unintended consequences that can result from this change.”

Sarauer explained that someone who was single or divorced and had a will prior to a marriage or common law status will be bound to their prior will until a new one has been created.

Since the updated laws affect all married and common law couples in Saskatchewan, they intend to reach out to stakeholders for feedback.

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