What Happens if You Pass Away Without a Will?December 13, 2022
Approximately 50% of all Canadians do not have a will. Without a will, there are no instructions for the distribution of your estate. This means that your wishes will be left up to interpretation or overlooked in favour of provincial law. If you are wondering what happens if you pass away without a will, it may be the perfect time to create one. As experts in estate and personal planning, the team at Sidhu & Associates knows how stressful it can be for family members and loved ones when dealing with an estate that has no will. That is why we have compiled some information to outline what happens when there is no will and how your estate will be distributed according to BC law.
Passing Away Without a Will
If you pass away without a will, this means that you have died “intestate”. In other words, you have passed away without a plan for the distribution of your estate. Your estate includes all of your assets (anything you own that possesses financial value or other value) and your current debts. If you die intestate, your estate is distributed according to provincial law instead of your personal wishes.
Your loved ones will also be left with a lot of work before your estate can be distributed. For example, they will need to determine which type of funeral you would want, what to do with your remains, and choose who will apply to become the administrator of your estate. This can cause several delays in the distribution process while increasing the chances of a dispute occurring, making a difficult process even more stressful and time consuming.
Who Will your Estate be Distributed to?
If you die intestate in British Columbia, your estate will be distributed differently based on your marital status and whether you have children or not. The following 3 scenarios cover most intestate situations:
If You Have a Spouse and no Children
Your spouse will acquire 100% of your estate. A spouse is defined by provincial legislation as someone to whom the deceased was legally married. In some provinces, this can include common-law partners.
If You Have a Spouse and Children
If you have a spouse and one child, the first $300,000 value of your estate goes to your spouse. The remaining amount—known as residue—is then divided equally between the spouse and child. If you have a spouse and multiple children, your spouse receives the first $150,000 value of your estate while the residue is equally divided between the spouse and children.
If You Have no Children or Spouse
Your estate is divided equally between your parents. If only one parent is alive, they receive 100% of the estate. If both parents are deceased, your estate will be divided amongst your siblings. If all siblings are deceased, your estate is divided amongst their children (your nieces and nephews). If your siblings have no children and no one is qualified to receive your estate, it will go to the provincial government.
To learn more about wills, estates, and personal planning, get in touch with the experts at Sidhu & Associates. We can be reached through our online contact form and will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding our services.