Have you ever heard that if you die without a Will the government gets all of your assets/estate? This is something I hear from time to time. Although the moral of the story (don’t die without a Will) shouldn’t be lost – you can rest assured that the government won’t get it all (unless you fall into very limited circumstances).
If you do not have a Will, or if your Will does not dispose of the entire estate, then there will be what is called an ‘intestacy’. The Estate Administration Act (B.C.) sets out a mandatory distribution scheme for estates that are intestate. For instance, if you passed away leaving a spouse but no children, your entire estate goes to your spouse. If you have a spouse and 1 child, then your spouse receives the first $65,000, all ‘household furnishings’, the right to live in the spousal home for their life. Whatever is leftover is then split between the spouse and the child. If you have no spouse or children then your estate would be left to your parents, and if your parents predecease you, then to your brothers and sisters (or their children if they predecease you). It is only if a testator does not leave behind any spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, nieces or nephews or any other next of kin of any kind that their estate “escheat” to the Crown (ie: transfer to the government). If ten years later, no applications have been made to return the property on the basis of a legal claim (ie: a next of kin is found) then the money is deposited into the treasury of the province.
Although the government has set up a way to distribute your estate in the event a valid Will is not in place, it may not be the distribution you would have made. You may have wanted to include a friend or leave a bequest to a charity. For these reasons, it is always advisable to create your own Will documenting your specific wishes.
This information is general in nature only. You should consult a lawyer before acting on any of this information. This information should not be considered as legal advice. To learn more about your legal needs, please contact our office at (250)448-2637
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