The rules for distribution on intestacy changed substantially when the new Wills and Succession Act arrived in Alberta.
In simple terms when someone in Alberta dies without a will here is what happens.
When there is a spouse or Adult Interdependent Partner* (AIP) and no children, the spouse or AIP receives the entire estate.
Where there is a spouse or AIP and children, the following occurs.
1. The entire estate goes to the spouse or AIP if all of the intestate’s descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse or AIP.
2. If any of the intestate’s descendants are not descendants of the surviving spouse or AIP, the surviving spouse or AIP is entitled to the greater of the prescribed amount (this is set by regulation and at onset it will be $150K) or 50% and the residue of the estate is distributed among the intestate’s descendants.
3. If there is both a spouse and an AIP, they are both entitled to a share of the estate and it depends on the presence of children and whose children.
A spouse that has been separated from the deceased for a period in excess of two years is deemed to have predeceased the intestate. Where there is no spouse or AIP and there are descendants then the descendants share according to the number of children, whether they are alive or predeceased.
Where there this no spouse, AIP or descendants, distribution is as follows:
1. The parents
2. The descendants of the parents or of either of them.
3. If there is no surviving parent or descendant of parent, but there is grandparents or descendants of grandparents, the estate is divided between them.
4. Great grandparents or the descendants of great-grandparents.
5. Where there is no one entitled to otherwise receive, then the property is distributed under the provisions of the Unclaimed Personal Property and Vested Property Act.
*Adult Interdependent Partners are defined by the Adult Interdependent Partners Act. Basically, this is what most people think of as common-law spouses. However, it goes much further and includes same-sex couples and couples who have no sexual relationship.