Al and Barb thought they didn’t need wills. They were in their early 50’s and in good health. They held all their possessions in joint tenancy, so when one died the survivor would get everything.
But they died in a common accident, Al living for two days in a coma after the car crash that killed Barb.
Al and Barb had no children and so Al’s widowed mother, who lived in their basement suite and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease inherited everything.
Perhaps this is what Al and Barb would have wanted, but the odds are it wasn’t.
Many people are under the mistaken impression that if you die without a will “the government gets is all”. The government does not “get it all” but the Estate Administration Act does determine how your estate is distributed. By not having a will, a person loses control over who gets how much of your estate, and when. And they also give up the right to appoint a guardian of their choice for any you children they may have.
If you die without a will, the Estate Administration Act sets out the following rules as to how your estate will be divided:
- If you own a home, your spouse will have the right to use it for life. This is called a “life interest” and can tie up the estate for a long time. Your spouse also gets the first $65,000 of your estate and then, if you have children, the balance of the estate is divided equally between your spouse and each of your children.
- If you don’t have a spouse, or your spouse is dead, the estate goes to your children. If any of your children died before you leaving their own children, then their children would take equally the shareof your dead children.
- If you have no children or grandchildren, then your parents (or the survivor of them) get the estate. (which is how Al’s widowed mother inherited Al and Barb’s estate).
- If your parents are dead, then the estate goes to your siblings, but if one of them has died before you and left any children living when you died, those children get your dead sibling’s share.
- If you have no siblings, or they are all dead, the Estate Administration Act distributes your estate based on a table of family connections that shows how they are related to you.
If you die without a will, The Public Guardian and Trustee hold your child’s shares in trust for them until they are 19 years of age. The child’s parent or guardian then has to apply to the Public Guardian and Trustee for any money needed for things like living expenses or education.
Many people feel that theirs will be a “simple will”. Unfortunately, many of these people fail to consider what should happen in the event of a common disaster:
- who will be the guardian of the children if both they and their spouse die in a common accident?
- who will be the executor of their estate? who will be the executor of the estate if the original executor dies before they do?
- who is to inherit in the event of a common accident where they, their spouse and their children perish together?
Before meeting with your Notary Public or lawyer in order to prepare your will, these items, among others, should be considered.
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The preceding provides general information only. It is not a legal document and does not contain legal advice. It has been prepared solely for informational purposes. Relevant statutes and regulations should be consulted for all purposes of interpreting and applying the law.