What Happens If You Die Without a Will in BC?

What is a Will?

A will is a legal document that states what a person would like done with their estate (property, assets, and debts) when they die.

A will also allows parents to decide who will take care of their children if their children are still minors when they die.

Note: A minor in BC is anyone under 19.

What Will Happen to My Things if I Die Without a Will?

If someone dies without making a will in BC, then their property is divided by following the rules in the Wills and Estates Succession Act (known as WESA). A person’s property is, generally, divided among the person’s living relatives based on a formula that is included in WESA. This means that your assets may go to relatives who you are not close to, such as estranged family members, while people who you cared about, may get nothing.  The Court has no discretion to change how property is divided if you die without a will.

What Will Happen to My Children if I Die Without a Will?

If a person dies without a will and has minor children, deciding who will take care of them can be complicated. If family members cannot agree, then the matter may end up in Family Court. You can decide who you want to be the guardian of your children if you make a will.

Any property that a minor inherits is entrusted to the Public Guardian and Trustee.

What is the Public Guardian and Trustee (PGT)?

The Public Guardian and Trustee is public organization that protects the legal and financial interests of minors and vulnerable adults. The PGT holds a child’s inheritance until they turn 19 if you die without a will.

Although the child’s guardian can apply to the PGT to access money from an estate for living expenses and other costs before he or she turns 19, this can be an added stress and inconvenience for both a child and his or her guardian.

Why Should I Make a Will?

Not making a will can cause a great deal of stress, uncertainty, and expense for your loved ones. Making a will ensures that your assets are dealt with in the way that you want and that your children have the guardians that you choose.

How Do I Make a Will?

Making a will can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. We suggest that you contact a wills and estates lawyer in Lake Country or a wills and estates lawyer in Vernon to make a new will or to make sure that your existing will is up-to-date and complies with the current laws in British Columbia, including WESA..

If you have any other questions about making a will in BC, or what happens if you or a loved one dies without a will, contact us at 778-475-8444 or info@martinestate.ca