Wills Estates and Succession Act Becomes Effective March 31, 2014

The BC government announced that the new Wills Estates and Succession Act (WESA) will become law effective March 31, 2014. The new legislation will replace most will and estate legislation in British Columbia with a consolidated statute. New probate rules and forms will be implemented as well.

The new legislation:

  • modernizes and harmonizes estate legislation in BC;
  • revokes some obscure legal rules;
  • changes the laws of survivorship of jointly owned property;
  • lowers the legal age to make a will to 16;
  • permits the court to declare an imperfectly made will to be a valid will,  to remedy defects or mistakes, and  to consider a broad range of evidence;
  • presumes undue influence and places an evidentiary burden on gift recipients where a donor is vulnerable;
  • changes the distribution of an estate on intestacy if no valid will applies, and increases the spouse’s share; 
  • cancels the former law that marriage revokes a prior will; and
  • expands and harmonizes beneficiary designation options.

WESA will apply to the wills and estates of persons who die after March 31, 2014, but current plans should be reviewed to ensure a smooth transition.

If you have any questions about WESA or its effect on estate planning and administration, please contact one of our Wealth Preservation + Estate Litigation professionals.