No Will? - Alberta Wills And Successions Act Explained
Preparing a will is a task with an unfortunate reputation. People dread doing it. They put it off – sometimes indefinitely. But this reputation is largely unfounded. For many people, preparing a will is a straight-forward and completely painless process, and the benefits of getting it done sooner rather than later are great.
No will? Our Edmonton probates and wills lawyers can explain the Alberta Wills and Succession Act to ensure you have the knowledge you need to protect your family.
How Will Your Estate Be Distributed If You Die Without a Will?
If you die without a will, it is known as dying intestate. The Wills and Succession Act will dictate how your estate is distributed.
If you die intestate and have a spouse or adult interdependent partner, but no descendants, then your entire estate is distributed to your spouse or adult interdependent partner. If you do have descendants, but they are also the descendants of your spouse or adult interdependent partner, then the entire estate is distributed to your spouse or adult interdependent partner.
If you have descendants from a previous relationship, then your spouse will receive the greater of $150,000 or 50% of the net value of your estate, and the remaining share of the estate will be distributed equally among your descendants.
If you have no spouse or adult interdependent partner, your estate will be divided among your descendants. If you have no descendants, then your estate will be divided among your parents, or if there are no surviving parents, any descendants of your parents (siblings or their children). Failing that, your estate will be divided among your grandparents or any descendants of your grandparents (aunts and uncles or their children).
How Does a Will Protect Your Family?
If your estate will be distributed to your family in any event, is a will really that important? Absolutely! Without a will, no one has the authority to deal with the intestate estate. Someone has to apply to the court to be appointed administrator for the estate. The Estate Administration Act sets out who can apply to the court and who will be given preference.
When you write a will, you choose someone to represent your estate by performing the duties of an executor, or personal representative, saving your family the time and money required to have an administrator appointed.
The mechanism for intestate distribution is designed to be generally fair in most situations. That does not mean it will be fair to your family.
For example, the equal distribution of an estate among all four of your children may not be fair if two of those children are independent adults, and two of those children are still dependent on you at the time of your death. This is especially true in the case of a more modest estate.
If you have no family members with whom you are close, you may prefer to distribute your estate to friends or charities rather than have it distributed among second cousins whom you've never met, or to the Government of Alberta.
Contact Our Edmonton Probates and Wills Lawyers Today for a Consultation
Writing a will does not have to be an arduous process, and having one in place can help you and your successors have peace of mind about the future of your estate. If you have any questions about Alberta's Wills and Succession Act, or would like to consult with our probates and wills lawyers about any matter concerning estate law, contact us today.
*Please be advised that the information in this article is not legal advice. For legal advice, please contact an Edmonton probates and wills lawyer.