What happens if you die without a will?

November 2, 2015 | Published by

If you die without having a legal will in British Columbia, the Wills, Estates and Succession Act determines how your estate will be distributed. Estate distribution without a will is called an “intestate distribution scheme” and this might not align with your true testamentary wishes.

Here is a little bit about how the intestate distribution scheme works.

  1. If you die leaving behind a spouse and no children, your estate passes to your spouse.
  1. If you die leaving behind a spouse AND children, what passes will depend on whether the children are also your spouse’s children. If they are, your spouse gets the first $300,000 of the value of your estate. If they are not, your spouse gets the first $150,000 of the value of your estate. Your spouse then receives half of the balance of your estate, with the other half divided among your children.

Your spouse has the right to have the family home from your estate as part of his/her share.

  1. If you have more than one spouse, they will share the above-mentioned spouse’s share equally. This could change depending on if the spouses agree to a different distribution scheme or if a court makes a ruling on how the estate should be divided between the two spouses.
  1. If you have no spouse, then your estate is divided among your children equally.
  1. If you have no spouse and no children, then your estate goes to your parents. If your parents are not alive, your estate will go to your siblings in equal shares.

There are additional rules if you have no spouse, children, or siblings, and your parents are no longer alive.

If you have any questions about dying without a will, or if you would like assistance making a will, please call  Vancouver Downtown Notary at 778-819-8553 or email us at [email protected]