Garton & Harris

Intestate succession in British Columbia

A large number of people die each year without a will. In the event that occurs, their assets will pass according to the provincial intestate succession laws. Intestate succession is defined by provincial law, and a judge will order the passing of property to heirs according to those laws.

If a person dies with a spouse but no children, the entire estate will pass to the surviving spouse. In the event a person dies with a spouse and children, the spouse's and children's shares of the estate will depend on whether the children are shared by the spouses or if the children are from another relationship of the decedent. When all children are from both spouses, the spouse will receive the household furnishings and a preferential amount of $300,000 of the estate's value or more. If the children of the decedent are from a prior or different relationship, the surviving spouse's preferential amount is $150,000 with the remainder being distributed to the children.

If there is no surviving spouse, the assets will pass first to children. If there are no lineal descendants, the decedent's assets will go to the decedent's parents. If both the decedent and his or her parents are dead, the assets will go to the descendants of the decedent's parents. If none survive, but grandparents are living, the assets will go to the grandparents. Succession following that proceeds accordingly to other descendants of the grandparents and so forth.

Every person should consider drafting wills to be an important part of their overall financial planning. With a will, a person can control how his or her assets will pass. If no will exists, the person risks living their family members to go through a potentially lengthy court process. People may want to discuss drafting a will with an estate planning lawyer.

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