The Intestate Estate:  
This is What Happens When Someone Dies Without A Will

Written by Val Hemminger, Lawyer and Mediator

What is an intestate estate? This is when somebody dies and does not have a will. Their “estate” is the property they own.  This area of the law is governed now in British Columbia by the Wills, Estates, and Succession Act.

People die without a will more often than you would think. The thing is, a lot of the time, people do not plan on dying. We often think we have all the time in the world to get our affairs in order. 

When someone dies without a will the property they leave behind is referred to as an “intestate estate.” 

So, what happens to our property if we do not have a will? 

When this happens, at least in British Columbia, the Estate Administration Act takes effect and our property is distributed in accordance with this law. 

So, in general, here is how it goes.

The Intestate Estate:  What Happens If We Die With No Will and Have A Husband or Wife and No Kids?

If we die and leave a husband and wife, but no kids, the entire estate goes to our husband or wife.

What Happens if We Die and Have a Husband or Wife and Kids Too?

If we die and leave a spouse and kids, then the first $65,000 of the net value of the estate goes to our husband or wife, then the estate gets divided in half after that. After the estate is divided in half, half goes to our kids in equal shares and the other half goes to our husband or wife.

If we die and have kids, the kids’ part of that estate is distributed equally amongst our kids.

But What Happens if We Are Considered to Have 2 Spouses?

You can see where it can get messy. Someone might have two spouses (for example, they have recently separated and moved in with someone else during their mid-life crisis). 

Then, if the parties can’t figure it out, the courts will decide.

What Happens When We Have No Spouse and No Kids but Have Living Parents?

If we die and have no spouse or kids, our estate goes to our parents if they are living. If we have only one living parent, the estate goes entirely to that parent.

What Happens if We Have No Spouse, No Kids, and No Living Parents?

In this case, our estate gets divided amongst our brothers and sisters equally. If we have a brother or sister that has died before us and they have kids, their portion of the estate gets divided up amongst their kids.

What Happens if We Have No Spouse, No Kids, No Living Parents and No Siblings

I know right? So, then it gets divided equally among the next of kin.

What about a relative that isn’t born yet?

Descendants and relatives of ours that were conceived before death, but born afterwards, inherit as if they had been born in the lifetime of the person who died intestate.

With All That Being Said:

It just seems simpler to get our wills done so things can be distributed the way we want them to be.

Contact us at Hemminger Law Group for your consultation.

Return from Intestate Estate

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