British Columbia’s new Wills, Estates and Succession Act received Royal Assent on October 29, 2009. This new Act is a comprehensive statute designed to modernize and streamline the making of Wills and the administering of estates in British Columbia.
Changes will include:
- Introducing a simplified procedure for administering small estates;
- Using the term “will-maker” instead of “testator”;
- Incorporating succession law concepts currently found only in case law (such as those that apply to adopted children);
- Granting the court the power to rectify a Will in certain situations, to ensure that a will-maker’s last wishes are respected; and
- Abolishing the presumption that a gift given by the will-maker during his/her lifetime to a child is an advancement of a gift in the will – instead, such a gift would take effect according to its terms.
The new Act is expected to come into force sometime in 2011, which will allow time for the public and legal community to review and prepare for the new legislation.
Wills made before the new Act comes into effect will not be invalidated, but the new Act will apply to the interpretation of existing Wills. This may lead to a flurry of demands to update existing Wills, so that a will-maker’s longstanding wishes are not inadvertently thwarted by the new statute. More information can be found at www.ag.gov.bc.ca/justice-reform-initiatives.
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Bianca La Neve
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