How Are a Deceased’s Assets Disposed Of Without a Valid Will

Power of attorney document

When a person suddenly dies and has no valid will, all their assets become intestate. Typically, the courts are responsible for determining how the assets should be distributed. The Wills, Estates and Succession Act (WESA) outlines the processes that should be followed when a person dies intestate.

While the disposition of the assets can be straightforward, it can get unclear or complicated in some cases. Here, we will outline the most common situations that deal with intestacy laws as elaborated in WESA.


1. Surviving Spouse and Shared Children

The spouse shall receive all household furnishings, which are classified as personal property associated with the enjoyment of the spouses in the spousal home. The spouse shall also receive a preferential share in the first $300,000 value of the intestate estate. When the intestate estate is valued above $300,000, the spouse shall also receive half of the excess value, with the other half equally split between the children.

However, if it is valued at less than $300,000, the spouse shall receive the entirety of the intestate estate’s value, with the children not receiving anything. Furthermore, the Public Guardian and Trustee are responsible for managing a minor’s inheritance until they are 19 years of age in British Columbia.


2. Surviving Spouse and Children with a Different Person

For this situation, the distribution is similar to what has been outlined above. However, the preferential share to be received from the intestate estate is only $150,000. The spouse shall receive the household furnishings, the $150,000 preferential share, and half of the intestate estate’s remainder value.

The children shall equally split the remainder of the intestate estate. However, they shall receive more of the intestate estate in this situation while the spouse receives less.


3. Surviving Spouse and No Children

The entire intestate estate shall be distributed to the spouse alone.


4. No Spouse and Surviving Children

The entire intestate estate shall be fully distributed and equally split between all children.


5. No Spouse or Children

The entirety of the intestate estate shall be distributed to the deceased’s parents. If both parents are deceased, the estate shall go to the parent’s children or the deceased’s brothers and sisters.

If there are no surviving parents, brothers or sisters, the intestate estate shall be distributed to the grandparents. If there are no surviving grandparents, it shall be distributed to the grandparent’s descendants. Moreover, the intestate estate can be distributed to great-grandparents and their descendants.

If no surviving relative is identified to be entitled to the intestate estate, the government shall receive the assets. If multiple people are of the same priority level, the estate shall be equally split among them.



The procedures at which an intestate estate is distributed are clearly outlined in WESA and must be followed by the court. Still, due to the complexity of some situations, it is still best to have a valid will written.

If you are in need of help in drafting your will, get an experienced estate lawyer today. Dreyer and Associates Family Lawyers have assisted families for years as wills and estates lawyers in the Fraser Valley, British Columbia. We also specialize in family law, spousal support, family mediation, and residential conveyancing, outlining the diverse expertise of our lawyers. We can assure you that your estate will be distributed according to your wishes. Call us at 604-539-2103 and get represented today.






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