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What Happens if You Die Without a Will
in B.C.?
[update 2014]

A person dying without a will is deemed to have died “intestate” and that person's estate will be distributed according to the new (in 2014) Wills, Estates and Succession Act, s.20-23 (“WESA”).  Someone must apply to the Court for a Grant of Administration in order to administer the estate, and Section 130 of the new (in 2014) WESA sets out the order of priority of applicants.

The scheme of distribution under WESA varies from the previous law in that it uses a “parentelic” system, whereby the line of the closest common ancestor is exhausted before other relatives will share in the estate. (see Wills, Estates and Succession Act  see www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/ complete/ statreg/09013_01 for a online copy of the WESA legislation )

Now, where there is a spouse and descendants, the spouse receives the household furnishing and the spousal preferential share.  The amount of the spousal share is dependent upon whether the surviving descendants are descendants of both the deceased spouse and surviving spouse.  The spouse no longer has a “life estate” in the spousal home.

In the past, the applicant for a Grant of Administration often had to post a bond as security for the proper administration of the deceased's estate.  Now WESA provides that the applicant is no longer required to post a security unless there is either a minor or mentally incapable person without a nominee who is interested in the estate or the court so orders on the application of a person interested in the estate.

If no one applies to administer the estate, the court may appoint an Official Administrator, which will likely take more time and cost more, than if there was a will.  The powers and duties of an administrator are roughly equivalent to those of an executor.



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This page last updated:  2014.05.13
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