What is an Intestate / Intestacy?
In Alberta, if you die without a will (or there is estate property which is not disposed of in the will), your estate will fall into what is called intestacy, and you will be referred to as the intestate. The Wills and Succession Act decides out how a person’s estate will be distributed if they die intestate. The rules, for the most part, are straightforward and take into account the general wishes of most people, but it can become exceedingly complex after all the factors are taken into account, and unfair or undesirable results can occur.
Who Does Your Estate Go To If You Die Without A Will?
If a person dies and has no children, but does have a spouse or adult interdependent partner, all of the estate goes to the spouse or adult interdependent partner.
If a person dies and has children with their spouse or adult interdependent partner, all of the estate goes to the spouse or adult interdependent partner.
If a person dies, has children, and a spouse or adult interdependent partner, but the children are not the children of the spouse or adult interdependent partner, the surviving spouse, or adult interdependent partner, can elect to receive a preferential share in an amount according to the regulations, or 50% of the estate (whichever is greater) and the children receive the other 50% depending on the value of the estate.
If a person dies and has children, but has no surviving spouse or adult interdependent partner, the estate will be distributed to each child equally. If the children of the intestate have predeceased the intestate, but had children of their own, the predeceased child’s portion of the estate will be distributed among their children equally.
If a person dies, has no children and no surviving spouse or adult interdependent partner, the estate is distributed equally among the parents of the intestate, or to the sole parent if there is only one surviving parent.
If a person dies, has no children, no surviving spouse or adult interdependent partner, and no surviving parents, their estate will be distributed to the intestate’s siblings.
If a person dies, has no children, no surviving spouse or adult interdependent partner, no surviving parents, and no siblings, half of the estate goes to the paternal grandparents or their descendants (the intestates aunts and uncles), and half of the estate goes to the maternal grandparents or their descendants. If there are only surviving relatives on either of the paternal or maternal grandparents, the whole of the estate will go to that side and distributed amongst their descendants.
Avoid trouble. Plan ahead and make a will.
Ahlstrom Wright is here to streamline the process for you.
Contact Ahlstrom Wright for more information about this and other areas of Wills & Estate Law.
Ahlstrom Wright has offices in Sherwood Park, Alberta and Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.
Take Control and Make A Will
The Wills and Succession Act treats all family members the same, which means that there is significant risk of unfair or undesirable results. The following examples illustrate some issues that can arise if you do not have a will:
- If you are separated from your spouse and die, your estate can still pass directly to your former spouse, even if you have a relationship with someone else.
- If you leave behind a young, the estate may be placed into a trust administered by the Public Trustee on behalf of your child until they turn 18. Any funds that the child requires will have to be applied for through the Public Trustee, who will charge a fee for each withdrawal.
- If you leave behind minor children, they will receive their distribution of your estate at age 18. Even if your estate is small, it is likely not a good idea to leave any amount of money in the hands of an 18 year-old.
Dying without a will can become a complicated and labor-intensive issue. An intestate’s estate must still be administered and distributed by an interested party. The Estate Administration Act governs the priorities for who can apply to administer your estate if you die without a will. Sometimes that will be your relatives, and sometimes that will be the Public Trustee (ie. the government). For some estates, that can require years, sometimes decades, of work to be put in to determine who the rightful heirs to your estate are. Plan ahead to avoid unnecessary complications with the administration of your Estate.
If you want to avoid placing that burden on your loved ones (or worse, letting the government take their cut), and you want to avoid the possibility of unfair or undesirable distributions, contact Ahlstrom Wright to schedule an appointment. Ahlstrom Wright has an office in Sherwood Park, AB and Yellowknife, NWT.