The wedding day is a happy and exciting time for newlyweds but if you ask any Vancouver Family Law Lawyer they will tell you that there is some important paper work to attend to when a couple marries. One document which newlyweds would be wise to turn their minds to is their will. With the recent March 31, 2014 introduction of the new Wills, Estates and Succession Act (known in legal circles as the “WESA”), the law regarding marriage and wills has changed.
Under the old Wills Act, a marriage revoked any previous wills that a newlywed had made before the marriage date, except where the will-maker expressly stated on the will that it was made in contemplation of that marriage. As a result, most wills were revoked by a marriage and in the absence of a new will, the estates would pass by the default rules of intestacy. Intestacy rules set out the guidelines for distributing an estate without a will, and in BC those rules set out a formula to provide for the spouse and children of the deceased person. In the result, the spouse and children of the deceased would receive a share of the estate.
The new WESA changes that rule and now a marriage will not revoke a prior will, even if that will was made years before you even met your spouse. The estate will be distributed as set out in the will, even though it doesn’t provide anything to your new bride or groom. If you have a will that predates the marriage, and that will does not provide for your new spouse or resulting children, when you pass away your grieving spouse and children will be compelled to pursue an action against the Executor of your estate, which is the last thing you want for the loved ones you leave behind.
If you are planning to marry, make one of your “to-do” list items an appointment with a lawyer. A Vancouver Family Law Lawyer will advise what kind of legal implications you are facing, and what kind of agreements or documents can help protect you and your family.
*Nothing in this post constitutes legal advice and is for general informational purposes only. To establish a solicitor-client relationship with Virginia K. Richards please contact her at Henderson Heinrichs LLP using the information on the Contact Page.