Outdated Wills: Will an Ex-Spouse Still Be Entitled to the Estate?

BC Power of Attorney

With all of the ruckus that may be present when getting a divorce, the separating spouses may sometimes forget a crucial step in the process – updating their will. If they go their entire lives without updating their estate, it may lead to problems when the will is executed after they pass away.

The question is: Will the ex-spouse still be entitled to claim a part of the estate? You may be thinking that the law should automatically cut the divorced spouse out of the will because, by law, the couple already separated. While this is generally true in a nutshell, there is more to this. Read on to find out how an outdated will of a divorced spouse will be put into effect.


Outdated Wills: Will an Ex-Spouse Still Be Entitled to the Estate?

The good news is that based on BC’s Wills, Estates and Succession Act or WESA, if a married couple decides to get divorced, this will have an impact on how the will is implemented later on.


Can a Will Be Revoked?

WESA states that a will may only be revoked under specific circumstances. Keep in mind that these laws are set in place to ensure that the will is executed to the best of the intentions of its writer. While divorce is not a sufficient reason to revoke a will, this life-changing event is enough to revoke an ex-spouse’s entitlement to the will.

Even if the will is not updated to reflect the divorce, WESA will still revoke the gift or appointment of the ex-spouse. The gift will be distributed to other benefactors as if the ex-spouse had died before the will-writer.


What Counts as an Ex-Spouse

You may be wondering what counts as an “ex-spouse”. Based on Canadian law, an ex-spouse is not only restricted to a person that one has been married to in the past. A common-law partner who has lived with the person for at least two years in a marriage-like relationship may also be considered an ex-spouse if the couple had terminated their relationship.


What If the Ex-Spouse Still Wants to Include their Ex in Their Will?

There are some instances where a person may still want to include their ex-spouse in their estate. This may happen if the couple had an amicable divorce and have remained to be friends after the separation. This is where it is essential to be explicit in the will about what one intends to leave for their ex in the will.


Regular Will Updates Are Important

Whether or not you have been through a divorce or other life-changing life event, it is important to regularly update your will and keep in touch with your estate lawyer.



If you have recently been through a divorce, updating your estate is something that you want to get out of your way as soon as possible. An experienced estate lawyer will help you ensure that your estate will reflect the best of your intentions as the writer of the will.

If you need help keeping your estate updated, contact Dreyer and Associates Family Lawyers. We are committed to preserving the best interests of families across the Fraser Valley and the Lower Mainland. We have a diverse array of experience across family law, wills and estates, and residential conveyancing; although, family law continues to be our focus. Contact us today!





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