The Law of Wills and Estates


The law of wills and estates, especially in British Columbia – is taking a different twist. The Wills Estate and Succession Act came into force in March of 2014. This will mean drastic changes to the rules and guidelines that streamline the administration of estates.

1. Marriage

Some of the changes include marriage not being invalidated by an existing will as has been the case traditionally. While beneficiaries revoke their inheritance win case they witness a will, in the WESA regulations, the courts will instead have the choice to allow the beneficiary to see the will. However, this will only be granted under special circumstances.

2. Estate Administration

Other changes will apply to the administration of an estate in the absence of a will, what is commonly referred to as an intestacy. In this case, a spouse will receive more money, of up to about USD 300,000, compared to the previous USD 65,000. Instead of having the ability to occupy the family home until the subject passes on, there will be a policy in place to allow the living spouse to buy the home. There may be clauses that stop the living spouse from occupying the house if buying it would cause financial constraints.

The changes will allow the courts to accept wills that do not meet all formal guidelines. Presently, the court has almost no power to pass a will that does not have all the requirements. However, even with the new changes, it is ideal to draft and execute a will properly. This may include the age factor. In the new changes, a 16-year-old can write a will. The changes are only meant to guide the steps in making wills regarding estates. However, most of the variations do not make massive changes and need always to be adhered to.

3. Age and Timeline

The variations in the age will also reflect on the time allowed for filing. The filing date will change to 180 days, as opposed to the previous six months after the grant of probate was issued.

The change in what some may term a few days may have an enormous impact on individuals who want to make changes at the last moment. Missing the limitation by a single day may mean being barred from filing the claim. In the previous setup, the Court had to weigh some factors to decide whether the deceased bears the “responsibility” to provide for the person filing the claim. Although these requirements are contained in the changes, the court does not have to consider the factors.

Some of the changes may be broken down into:

· A 30-day timeline that beneficiaries must endure to inherit.

· Classifying the legal position on who can access Wills.

· Which claims are affected.

· Factors the court should consider.

· Eligibility to contest Wills and Estates

Given the notable changes, it is essential for potential claimants, administrators and executors to realize the way in which the court will determine future claims. Either way, lawyers are always on hand to offer advice and counsel on what impact the changes will have on your plans in estate and planning.