Understanding the Intestacy Process in British Columbia

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When a person dies without a will in British Columbia, the probate process can be difficult for the family and beneficiaries of the deceased. This process, known as ‘intestacy,’ involves the appointment of an administrator to handle the deceased’s estate. 

Intestacy law in British Columbia sets out the rules for how a person’s estate will be handled when there is no will. It also sets out the order of priority in which family members and other beneficiaries may receive a share of the estate.

What Happens to an Estate under Intestacy in BC?

The estate is distributed according to the intestacy rules when a person dies intestate. In British Columbia, the estate is divided among the surviving family members. The estate is distributed in the following order:

1. Spouse

The deceased’s spouse is the first to receive a share of the estate. In British Columbia, the surviving spouse is entitled to the first $300,000 of the estate plus one-half of the balance. 

2. Children

The deceased will receive the remaining half of the estate if they have children. If the deceased has more than one child, the estate is divided equally among them. 

The estate will then be divided among one of the following categories, depending on which one is first available. The certain order is:

  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Grandparents
  • Aunts/Uncles
  • Cousins

What About Step-Children?

In this situation, the step-children are treated similarly to the deceased’s other children. This means that they are entitled to an equal share of the estate with the other children of the deceased. If a step-child is not named as a beneficiary in the estate, they can still claim their entitlements. The claim must be made within a certain period and is subject to the rules of British Columbia’s intestacy laws.

It is important to note that their rights are only recognized if their father did not leave a will. If the father did leave a will, the step-children’s entitlements would be determined by the provisions of the will. This means that if the father omitted the step-children in the will, they would not be entitled to any portion of the estate.

What Happens If the Deceased Has No Living Relatives Left?

The estate will be divided among the government, charities, and other entities if the deceased has no living relatives. The government will receive a share of the estate, which will be used to pay any outstanding debts and taxes. The remaining funds will be distributed to charities and other entities as determined by the laws of British Columbia.

Should the Family Hire a Lawyer in the Case of Intestacy?

When a loved one dies without a will, there are a variety of legal issues that must be addressed. In some cases, family members may have disputes regarding the division of assets. A lawyer can help the family resolve these disputes and ensure that the deceased person’s wishes are respected.

A lawyer can also help the family to understand the legal requirements for settling an estate. This includes understanding the legal process, filing the necessary paperwork, dealing with creditors, and distributing the estate according to state law. Without the assistance of a lawyer, the family may struggle to understand the legal process and make mistakes that could result in costly delays or errors.


If there is no will, the estate will be distributed according to the intestacy rules. The rules of intestacy are set out in the Wills, Estates and Succession Act. The rules are designed to distribute the estate in a fair way, considering the relationships between the deceased and the beneficiaries.

If you need a wills and estates lawyer in British Columbia, you can hire us at Dreyer & Associates. We are committed to prioritizing the best interests of the family and ensuring that fairness and justice are achieved. Get in touch with us to learn more about our services.





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