When a person dies and does not leave a Will, the estate is divided on an intestacy in accordance with the Wills, Estates and Succession Act in B.C.

If a deceased person leaves a spouse and descendants, the spouse will receive the household furnishings and a preferential share of the estate. If all of the descendants are descendants of the spouse and the deceased, the spouse’s preferential share is $300,000. After the spouse’s share is paid out, the remaining estate is distributed with one-half going to the spouse and one-half divided equally among the surviving descendants. If the descendants are descendants of the deceased but not the spouse, the spouse’s preferential share is $150,000 and the remainder is divided the same way with one-half to the spouse and one-half among the surviving descendants.

If a deceased person leaves no surviving spouse, the intestate estate is divided equally among the surviving descendants, for example, the deceased’s children or grandchildren if their child has predeceased them. If there are no descendants, the estate is divided between the surviving parents of the deceased or to the sole surviving parent. If there is no spouse, no descendants and neither parent is alive, the estate is divided among the descendants of the deceased’s parents, for example, the deceased’s siblings.

In the event a deceased person leaves no spouse, no children, no grandchildren or great-grandchildren, no parents, no siblings or nieces and nephews, etc. the estate is divided among the deceased’s surviving grandparents, if alive, or their descendants. After that it moves up the line to the deceased’s great-grandparents or their descendants as the case may be. If there is no one entitled to the estate under these rules, the estate becomes the property of the government.

In order to avoid an intestate estate, it is important to make and maintain a valid Will that clearly sets out how you wish to divide your estate on your death.

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Deborah A. Todd