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You should consider making or changing a Will in British Columbia whenever you experience a significant change in wealth, or when a major change in your personal circumstances occurs, like a marriage, birth or divorce. It is generally considered good practice to review your Will every few years in order to make sure that it remains relevant. If your Will no longer reflects your estate planning goals, then a new Will should be drafted. A new Will is also required if you decide to change beneficiaries.
It is important that you review your Will following a change in your marital status. Under the current laws in British Columbia, upon marriage, an earlier Will is not automatically revoked, and so your new spouse will not automatically be included as a beneficiary. Similarly, if you divorce after making a Will, unless there is a specific statement to the contrary therein, your ex-spouse is deemed to have predeceased you, and any gifts to that ex-spouse will fail.
If you fail to create a Will, you will die intestate. Intestacy is a term that is commonly used to refer to the estate of a person who does not have a valid Will in place at the time of their death.
If you die intestate, then the Wills, Estates and Succession Act tells the Court how your estate will be distributed. In addition, the Court will appoint an Administrator who will manage the affairs of your estate. If you are leaving behind a child under the age of 19, then that child’s interest in your estate will be held in trust by the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia until the child reaches the age of majority, which is currently age 19. At this time the 19-year-old will be delivered the entire inheritance without conditions or supervision.