Printer-friendly version   

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
2009AG0005-000319

September 14, 2009

Ministry of Attorney General

 

 

WILLS, ESTATE AND SUCCESSION LAW MODERNIZED

 

VICTORIA – New legislation reintroduced today by Attorney General Michael de Jong, QC, will modernize and streamline the making of wills and administering of estates.

 

Bill 4, the Wills, Estates and Succession Act, reduces the number of separate acts that involve estate law from seven to one, making the law in this area easier to use. Among refinements, the legislation provides a simplified procedure for administering smaller estates.

 

“The public, and lawyers and notaries working with estate laws, will greatly benefit from the improvements,” said de Jong. “Among many changes, the legislation removes outdated provisions and will be easier for the general public to understand.”

 

Extensive work and consultations have gone into development of the legislation. Many of the changes came as a result of a British Columbia Law Institute (BCLI) three-year review of succession law by over 30 lawyers, notaries and legal academics specializing in the area.

 

“Some of British Columbia’s top wills and estate practitioners, as well as other experts, made valuable contributions to the project,” said Jim Emmerton, BCLI executive director. “Twenty-nine volunteer project members attended over 100 committee meetings dedicated to modernizing this important area of law.”

 

Further changes were made based on consultations and feedback from the public, Canadian Bar Association, estate and financial planners, bankers, legal advisors and the public guardian and trustee.

 

As this is a substantial change, the law will come into force after the public and legal community have had an opportunity to review and prepare for the new legislation, expected to be in 2011.

-30-

 

Contact:

 

Janis Robertson

Public Affairs Officer

Ministry of Attorney General

250 387-5904

Cell: 250 889-5945

 

 

 

For more information on government services or to subscribe to the Province’s news feeds using RSS, visit the Province’s website at www.gov.bc.ca.


 

BACKGROUNDER

 

 

September 14, 2009                                                                             Ministry of Attorney General

 

WILLS, ESTATES AND SUCCESSION ACT

 

·         Legislation governing succession law was last comprehensively reviewed in 1920. Many existing provisions trace their roots to the Wills Act of 1837.

·         The British Columbia Law Institute began the succession law reform project in 2003, with support from the Ministry of Attorney General.

·         Succession law refers to the transmission of property to others, usually after death, through a will or testament. It includes legal matters related to distribution of property of people who die without a will or with an invalid will, as well as the law by which a will can be challenged or claims made against an estate.

·         Several important principles in succession law are found in case law only. The new legislation enshrines many of those principles in legislation, making the law more predictable and accessible.

·         Four acts will be completely repealed when the legislation comes into force. Legal provisions have been relocated from three other acts, consolidating seven acts in total into a single act.

·         Among key changes:

-        The court is given power to ensure a deceased person’s last wishes will be respected, even if contained in a document that does not meet the necessary requirements to be considered a will.

-        It will be faster and easier to administer small estates (less than $50,000).

-        Land is applied to pay off estate debts equally with personal property. Currently, if debts are owing and the estate does not cover them, bequeaths of personal property are used first to pay the debts, followed by gifts of land.

·         Removed or changed are a number of presumptions most people did not know about, such as a gift given during the will maker’s life is presumed to be given in place of a gift in a will.

·         The new legislation will not invalidate wills made before it comes into force, but will apply to the interpretation of existing wills.

-30-

 

Contact:

 

Janis Robertson

Public Affairs Officer

Ministry of Attorney General

250 387-5904

Cell: 250 889-5945

 

 

For more information on government services or to subscribe to the Province’s news feeds using RSS, visit the Province’s website at www.gov.bc.ca.