With the implementation of the Wills Estates and Succession Act
("WESA") on March 31, 2014, marriage no longer
automatically revokes a will. Prior to WESA, marriage revoked
a will unless the will was made in contemplation of the
marriage. The assumption was that if the newlyweds passed
away before they returned from their honeymoon, they would not
intend that their pre-marriage wills should apply.
Wills made prior to WESA that were automatically revoked by
marriage prior to March 31, 2014 are not "revived" or
made valid again by WESA.
Prior to WESA, a separation without divorce had no effect on a
will. After WESA, a legal separation results in the will
being read as if the other spouse predeceased the will-maker. After
WESA, the end of a common law marriage-like relationship also
results in the will being read as if the former common law spouse
predeceased the will-maker.
There is a potential pitfall in WESA because after a common law,
marriage-like relationship ends, the former common law spouse is
deemed to have predeceased the will-maker by operation of this
statute. A subsequent reconciliation of the same common law
couple does not revive or restore the validity of the gift in the
will to the reconciled common law spouse. To be safe, if a
will-maker makes a gift to his or her common law spouse, and if
there is a separation followed by reconciliation, it would be
prudent for the will-maker to make a new will.
These provisions of WESA are subject to an expression of a
contrary intention in the will. Will-makers are free to
specify that gifts to their former spouses continue to be valid
notwithstanding a divorce or separation.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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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.
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.
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