When a person dies with a will in British Columbia, the court may grant probate of the will or administration of the estate upon a showing of several things. First, the court will need to make a determination that the will offered for probate is valid. The court will also need to find that the decedent was a resident in British Columbia when he or she died, was not a resident or domiciliary of British Columbia but left property behind in the province or that the person was outside of the province but the personal representative who will be a party to the action is within the province and an action has been opened.
Circumstances for people in British Columbia will sometimes change, necessitating a corresponding alteration or revocation of a will. At other times, people may want to revive a previously revoked will, re-establishing it as the effective will upon their death. Provincial statutes have outlined the specific way that these goals may be met.
The wills people leave to provide for their loved ones must be executed to have the intended effect. On March 31, 2014, the Parliament of British Columbia enacted a Wills, Estates and Succession Act that made some changes to the existing laws. While the new legislation was written to ease the inheritance process, it grants courts powers that may result in notable changes in how wills are handled and how people structure their estates.
In British Columbia a will that is not in writing and is not witnessed by two people may not be accepted as valid. The requirement to have the will in writing increases the odds of determining the identity of the person who created the will. Knowing who wrote the will makes it easier to determine what his or her final wishes were.
A simple will is the foundation of many individual estate plans in British Columbia, and a number of people rely on wills to ensure that their last wishes are honoured and that their property is distributed properly on death. Often, though, people must update or alter their wills to reflect changes in attitude or life events. Additionally, heirs and potential heirs may choose to challenge a will if they feel the testator's wishes were not properly contained therein. In either case, the laws of British Columbia provide guidance.
Residents of British Columbia may create wills in order to distribute their assets to the correct beneficiaries upon death. A will can be changed after its creation until its testator's death. However, wills also have certain limitations of which individuals should be aware when creating them.