Back in 2014, the BC Government made significant legislative changes to Estate Law in British Columbia. The updates to the Wills, Estates and Succession Act touched on many areas of estate planning, but the most significant changes arguably impacted upon separated couples. Estate Planning and Separation is a common but often challenging topic to cover in family law. Let’s take a look at how it’s handled under WESA.
Estate Planning and Separation
Since 2014’s updated Wills, Estates and Succession Act, separating from a spouse before death disentitles an individual from inclusion in their will. This applies equally whether the couple were married or part of a common-law (cohabiting for two years) relationship.
That doesn’t mean the surviving ex-spouse is left with nothing. In fact, they will likely still have a claim to make under the Family Law Act for “Family Property” owned by the other.
At this point, we’d like to recommend speaking with a family law expert such as the team at Westside Family Law. Defining Family Property isn’t a cut and dry process, and the law is open to interpretation.
Defining Family Property
During a relationship, we acquire a lot of items. Family Property is defined as the items we acquire while together as a couple. It’s irrelevant whether these items are acquired together or separately, and the law pays little attention to which name is listed as the owner. Common examples of Family Property include the family home, bank accounts, pensions, and insurance policies.
These are the times usually split evenly in a separation. However, there is some ambiguity around the fringes of what exactly constitutes Family Property, which is why it pays to consult with a lawyer.
Including an Ex in a Will
While the divorce process automatically strips an ex-partner from a will, there’s nothing stopping the duo from creating a new agreement, post-divorce, that reinstates the old agreement, or aspects of it. Any will made post-divorce, that includes the ex-partner, is binding. Many couples choose to go down this route. An example we often see involves couples who have divorced on good terms looking to retain the will they made earlier. At Westside Family Law, we’d be delighted to help facilitate this process.
Looking to Plan Your Will?
If you, or a loved one, is interested in discussing your unique personal situation regarding estate planning or Wills we’d love to discuss your options. Westside Family Law can assist with any legal questions you may have surrounding estate law. Contact us and we’ll be happy to assist.