Everyone in Alberta will be affected by the new Wills & Succession Act. Watch this space and other areas of our website for more complete details on how this new legislation will impact you.
First off, what are we dealing with? The new Wills & Succession Act (WSA) is the single biggest overhaul to Wills & Estates legislation since Alberta became a province in 1905. It affects everything from how Wills are interpreted to rights of family members to file a claim against the estate.
The WSA completely replaces the Wills Act, the Intestate Succession Act, the Dependents Relief Act and the Survivorship Act. All of these pieces of legislation are repealed and replaced by the WSA.
Let’s just look at one particular revision known as survivorship. This covers what happens when two or more people die in a common tragedy where it is not possible to determine who died first. Under the old legislation there was an automatic rule that the oldest person died first. Under the new regime it is presumed that each party has predeceased the other party.
Here is a practical example of how this works. A married couple owns a house together as joint tenants. They die together in an automobile accident. Under the old legislation house and go to the youngest of the two. If this was a second marriage for both then they would likely prefer to have the house with equally between each of their descendents. Under the new legislation this is exactly what will happen. Since each is presumed to have died before the other, the jointly held property will be transferred to tenants-in-common and each deceased estate will own an equal one–half share of the home. For many people in blended family situations this is much more in accord with their wishes and is more preferable to the previous “youngest takes all”.
Stay tuned for more information on changes that have been introduced by the WSA.
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