How will my estate be divided if I die without a Will?

For deaths on or after March 31 2014 – under Wills Estates and Succession Act (WESA)

Closest Surviving Relatives

  • Spouse (spouse means married or common law) and no descendants
entire estate to spouse
  • Spouse and descendants   (descendants are defined in s. 1 to mean “all lineal descendants through all generations”)
 to spouse: preferential share of $300,000 if all descendants are descendants of both the intestate and the spouse; otherwise   $150,000 if all descendants are not common to the intestate and spouse (or a greater amount if prescribed); household furnishings;1/2 of the residue;and also the right to acquire the spousal home from the personal representative to satisfy, in whole or in part, the surviving spouse’s interest in the estate and where the interest in the spousal home exceeds the surviving spouse’s interest in the estate, the right to purchase the remainder of the interest in spousal home from the personal representative (s. 31)

to descendants: 1/2 of the residue

  • two or more spouses
spouses share in the spousal share as agreed or as determined by the court
  • descendants (no spouse)
to descendants as set out in s. 24
  • parents or surviving parent of intestate
equally to parents or surviving parent
  • descendants of intestate’s parents or either parent
to descendants of intestate’s parents or either parent
  • grandparents or descendants of grandparents of the intestate
1/2 to the grandparents on one parent’s side in equal shares or to the surviving grandparent on that side, but if there is no surviving grandparent, to the descendants of the grandparents. Same procedure for the grandparents on the other parent’s side.   But, if there are only survivors on one side, then the whole estate goes to the surviving side
  • great-grandparents or descendants of great-grandparents
 1/2 to the great- grandparents on one parent’s side or their descendants in equal shares. Same procedure for the great-grandparents on the other parent’s side. But, if there are only survivors on one side, then the whole estate goes to that side



For Deaths prior to March 31 2014

If you died living in British Columbia without leaving a valid Will prior to March 31 2004, BC’s Estate Administration Act dictates how your estate will be divided. It sets out the following rules:

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 receives the first $65,000 of your estate. Then if you have children, your spouse and children share what is left – equally if you have one child, and if you have more than one child, then one-third to the spouse and the remainder equally to your children. If you have no children, then your spouse gets everything. Step-children or common-law children are excluded.

If you don’t have a spouse, or if 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 share of your dead child.

If you have no children or grandchildren, then your parents (or the survivor of them) get the 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 receive your dead sibling’s share.

If all your siblings are dead, then your estate is divided equally among your nephews and nieces, but if there are none, then it’s left to your other relatives based on a table of family connections that shows how they are related to you.

There is no flexibility and people that you want to provide for may be left out.