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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Alberta's new Wills and Succession Act - part 2

Our new law dealing with wills and estates is expected to take effect in Alberta in January of 2012. It's bringing big changes to this area of law that will affect all Albertans. In Part 1 I talked about the right to stay in the family home temporarily after the death of a spouse who was the only owner of the house. In this post I'd like to talk about a major change to our law of intestacy.

Intestacy refers to dying without a valid will. If you die intestate, the law says who gets what from your estate. Currently we have a formula that divides the estate between the spouse and the children. I'm personally quite happy to see this part of the law changed as I don't think it was working well for modern families.

The new law says that when a husband or wife (either legally married or common law) dies, and all of the children are their joint children, i.e. no step-children, the entire estate goes to the surviving spouse. The children don't get anything from the estate, but the idea is that when their second parent dies, he or she will pass down the estate to them.

The law provides for something different when a deceased has children from previous relationships. When a husband or a wife (legally married or common law) dies and the spouse who died had at least one child from a previous relationship, the surviving spouse does not get the whole estate.  The spouse will get a "preferred share" and the rest will go to the deceased's descendants.

The preferred share is going to be either 50% of the estate or the amount set by regulation, whichever is larger. The regulation isn't in place yet, but is supposed to be in place by the time the new law comes into force in January. The amount set by the regulation is probably going to be $150,000.

Remember that these are the rules that will apply if you should die in Alberta without a will. You can maintain control over what happens to your estate and have things set up the way you want them by making sure you have a valid will in place.

1 comment:

  1. If a person died in 2009 does this mean this new law does not apply? It has been over 2.5 years and the estate has not been settled. There are 2 minor children that the new common law spouse had completely left out of receiving anything other that their personal clothes from the deceased's home. She has claimed 100% of the estate for herself. Including a mobile home that still resides on the deceased's property that she abandoned 3 months after death.

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