Nearly half of British Columbians don’t have a will

Make-a-will week, michelle broughton, estate planning, notary public, notary, notary society

Note: This article does not provide legal advice. For advice on estate planning, contact our office at 604-476-2131.

Nearly half of British Columbians don’t have a legally valid and up-to-date will according to a 2018 Angus Reid Institute Report.  

From my practice, I hear a lot of my clients tell me why they don’t need a will right now. They may believe that they “don’t have any assets” or that they are “too young to need a will”.

I also hear from spouses, children, and friends who are confused on what happens after their loved one dies. Dealing with death is challenging enough, but when someone dies without a will, their loved ones also have to navigate a complex process.

The Wills, Estates and Succession Act (“WESA”) mandates how one’s estate should be divided if they’ve died without a will, some of which include:

  • your estate will pass to your spouse, if you do not have children. But if you have children, the division of your estate depends if they are also your spouse’s children.
  • an administrator will be appointed by the court in the management of your estate. In most circumstances, your spouse will apply to be the administrator.
  • If you have debts, whoever is applying to be an administrator, will require your creditors agree to their application.

If you die without a will in place, and your estate is intestate, there are several challenges that your loved ones face:

  • You don’t have control or choice on who gets what and when
  • Beneficiaries may have to wait longer to receive their gifts
  • You give up your right for choosing a guardian for your young children
  • The cost to administer your estate rises dramatically
  • If the validity of your will were to be contested in the BC Supreme Court, litigation costs often surpass $50,000
  • Intestate estates generally have a longer period to probate, which eats up cash that could have been spent elsewhere.

Each individual and family is different. I always warn my clients of pre-packaged wills that don’t address their own family’s circumstances. They are limited in scope, and may not allow for alternate executors or the split of assets to several beneficiaries.

It is rewarding to provide advice on legislation and point out options they may have never thought of. Individuals and their families appreciate when things are done correctly. 

It is worth your peace of mind and to save your family time, effort and unnecessary spending of your money.

I am happy to answer your questions and advise on your estate planning needs. Contact us at 604-476-2131 to see how we can help and draft the documents that work best for you and your family.

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