p>One of the objectives of the Wills, Estates and
Succession Act (WESA) is to modernize BC's succession
laws, which have not been comprehensively reviewed in many years
and contain some rules that are outdated, inflexible or serve a
purpose that is no longer relevant. For example, under current
wills and estates legislation, there are a number of provisions
that protect the interests of the spouse and children of a
will-maker, but many of these protections are only available when a
legal marriage occurs. In today's world, where many people
enter into long-term relationships without ever going through the
formalities of legal marriage, some of these protections apply
unequally. Two examples of how WESA will address the potential for
inequality and modernize wills and succession legislation are
Revocation of a Will by Marriage
Under the current Wills Act, when someone is married,
their will is automatically revoked unless the will expressly
states that it is made in contemplation of their marriage. The main
purpose of this rule is to protect the spouse and children of an
individual, because even if a new will is never prepared, their
spouse and children will be beneficiaries of the estate based on
intestacy laws that apply when an individual dies without a will.
However, the protection afforded by the rule does not apply in
situations where no legal marriage occurs, even if the individual
has a long-term common law spouse and children. Under WESA, this
rule will be abolished and the subsequent marriage of a will-maker
will no longer revoke a will.
Minimum Age for Making a Will
Presently, the minimum age for making a will in BC is 19, but an
exception exists for minors who are or have been married. Married
minors are given this special status to ensure that they can
protect the interests of their spouse and children. Again, this
protection is not available to a minor who is unmarried but in a
common law relationship or has children. Under WESA, the minimum
age for making a will will be reduced to 16, and the exception for
married minors will be abolished.
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
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It is not uncommon for parents to provide monetary gifts to their adult children. Parents may wish to help their child with a down payment on a property, or help pay out their child's existing mortgage.
On March 31, 2014, BC's new Wills, Estates and Succession Act1 ("WESA") will come into force. WESA introduces new protections for beneficiaries of estates that are in danger of being disputed or deemed ineffective by a court.
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