Wednesday, April 16, 2008

British Columbia Modernizes Wills and Estate Law

New Wills and Estate Law

in British Columbia

New legislation introduced today by Attorney General and Minister responsible for Multiculturalism Wally Oppal will modernize and simplify the making of wills and administering of estates.

Bill 28, the Wills, Estates and Succession Act, reduces the number of separate acts that involve estate law from seven to one, making the bill easier to use.

The legislation provides a simplified procedure for administering smaller estates.

Courts will also have the power to recognize non-compliant documents as wills. This helps ensure a person’s last wishes are upheld (provided there are no concerns about the will’s validity), even if their will wasn’t prepared by a lawyer.

The changes came about as a result of a B.C. Law Institute three-year review of succession law by over 30 volunteers. The reviewers, drawn from notable lawyers, notaries and legal academics specializing in succession law, published their report and recommendations in 2006.

The ministry also conducted its own consultation to obtain comments from organizations involved in wills and estates law and posted a link to the B.C. Law Institute report, with a general request for submissions through the ministry’s public website. The ministry received feedback and input on the report from the legal community, Canadian Bar Association, estate and financial planners, bankers and the public guardian and trustee.

Because this is a substantial change, the law will come into force after a period of time to allow the public and legal community to familiarize themselves with the new legislation.


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