Last Will and Testament British Columbia (Part 4): Why have a Will?

Last Will and Testament (British Columbia)

Please note that the information provided herein is not legal advice and is provided for informational and educational purposes only. If you need legal advice, you should seek professional assistance.

Remember: if you’re looking for a Legal Will in the Province of British Columbia, then look no further:

Last Will and Testament (British Columbia)

This Will allows you to:

  • name someone (Estate Trustee) to administer your estate and transfer your property at death;
  • make cash gifts, charitable gifts, and gifts of real or personal property to specific beneficiaries; and
  • transfer the residue of your estate (i.e. the left over assets) to your surviving spouse OR to your surviving issue (e.g. children, grandchildren) OR in trust to your surviving spouse with the remainder going to your surviving issue when your spouse passes away.

Remember: this Last Will and Testament is lawyer-prepared, customizable, affordable, and comes with a ton of free guidance (a video tutorial and written guides!). All for just a fraction of the cost a lawyer would charge (which in 2010, was over $344 for a simple Will for just one person: check out page 3 of 6 in this national fee range report).

Why should you have a Will?

The bottom line is that everyone – no matter how large or small their estate will be – should have a Will. With a Will, you can:

  • Decide who will be the beneficiaries of your estate (i.e. the pool of assets which will be distributedafter certain expenditures are paid);
  • Give personal items to specific individuals;
  • Include persons who are not related to you by blood to inherit a part or all of your estate;
  • Divide the residue of your estate according to specifically identified trusts;
  • Select an Executor;
  • Select a Guardian for your minor children (if you have any) and Custodian of their Property;
  • Reduce the cost of administering your estate (e.g. by avoiding fighting and estate litigation); and
  • Reduce income taxes (especially if you die and leave a spouse behind).

What happens if I die without a Will?

In British Columbia, if you die WITHOUT a Will (i.e. “intestate”), then someone will need to apply to the relevant court for “Letters of Administration” in order to administer the deceased’s estate. Applications for Letters of Administration are processed by court staff, whose duties are prescribed by the Supreme Court Civil Rules, B.C., Reg. 168/2009. Staff must review each application to confirm that the application and all accompanying documents are complete and comply with the Supreme Court Civil Rules and the Estate Administration Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 122. Applications for Letters of Administration require the following forms (among others) to be submitted (Rule 21-5(4) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules):

  • Requisition in Form 17
  • Affidavit of Administrator (Form 91, 92, or 93);
  • Any further affidavits as may be required by the Supreme Court Civil Rules; and
  • A bond (although this may be dispensed with by the Court): sections 16 and 17 of the Estate Administration Act;
  • A declaration indicating that the Applicant has searched for the deceased’s assets and liabilities; and
  • A certificate indicating that the Applicant has notified persons with an interest in the Will.

How will my property be divided if I don’t have a Will?

If someone dies without a Will in British Columbia, their property will be divided according to the rules set out in the Estate Administration Act. Sections 83 through to 89 of the Estate Administration Act say that, when a person dies intestate (i.e. without a Will), then their estate will be divided as follows:

  • entirely to their spouse (which includes a common law spouse), if only their spouse remains alive.
  • entirely to their “issue” (which will be discussed in greater detail below), if only their issue is alive.
  • where there is a spouse and issue, the first $65,000 of the value of the estate will go to the spouse and either 1/2 of the residue (i.e. the remaining amount) will go to the spouse if there is only one child OR 1/3 of the residue will go to the spouse if there is more than one child. The spouse is also entitled to the household assets.
  • WITHOUT a surviving spouse or surviving issue, then the entire estate will be split in equal shares amongst:
    • the intestate’s surviving father and mother (or to the sole survivor of them);
    • the intestate’s surviving brothers and sisters if there are no surviving parents (note: if a brother or sister is dead, then the children of the deceased brother or sister take the share their parent would have taken if living);
    • the intestate’s surviving nieces and nephews if there are no surviving siblings; and
    • the next of kin of equal degree of consanguinity to the intestate if there are no surviving nieces and nephews.

An estate goes to the government only if no relatives are known or they cannot be found, and if all time limits set by the law have passed.

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