If you die without a will in BC, your estate will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy. BC’s intestate laws are specified in sections 20 through 25 of the Wills, Estates and Succession Act of BC. The estate basically passes to your next of kin, using parentelic distribution, with a few exceptions.
Estate Administration Process
While the administration process can be managed by the Public Guardian and Trustee, a close family member usually steps up to complete the estate’s administration and distribution with the help of a probate lawyer. This person is called the administrator of the estate and the job is very similar to that of an executor appointed in a will, only more challenging. The appointed administrator is responsible for the onerous task of locating and valuing the assets, paying any outstanding debts or taxes, and distributing the remaining assets according to the law. The process is much more challenging because most of the leg work needs to be done before the person has any legal paperwork appointing them to be the administrator. The response that institutions frequently give to administrators is “we’re not giving you any information because we don’t know who you are.” Institutions are much more friendly with executors, as their name appears in the will.
Lesson: get a will
Despite the general set of rules that are followed when an individual passes away without a will, it’s important to note that estate administration under intestacy laws may not align with the deceased person’s wishes or the specific needs of their family members. For this reason, we highly recommended to create a valid will with an estate planning lawyer outlining how you’d like your assets and property to be distributed when you die. With a will, complications and family disputes can be avoided, and an executor of your choice will help ensure that your wishes are carried out as you intended.
More reasons for having a will
See here for our top reasons for having a will in place.