The New Wills Estates and Succession Act (WESA)

What is it?

The Wills, Estates and Succession Act (WESA) came into force on March 31, 2014. The act provides greater certainty for individuals who put their last wishes into writing and simplifies the process for those responsible for distributing an estate.

Among its benefits, the act:

  • clarifies the process of inheritance when a person dies without leaving a will;
  • makes the process easier for a person to transfer the title of their spousal home when their spouse dies;
  • clearly outlines the sequence in which to look for heirs to a person’s estate;
  • provides the courts with more latitude to ensure a deceased person’s last wishes will be respected;
  • clarifies obligations relating to property inheritance in the context of Nisga’a and Treaty First Nation lands; and
  • lowers the minimum age at which a person can make a will from 19 to 16 years old.

Do you have a valid will?

Pursuant to Section 58 of WESA, the court may order that any “record, document or writing, or marking on a will or document” may be fully effective as though it were a valid will, if the court is satisfied that it represents the testamentary intentions if the deceased. Electronic records are included in the definition of “record.”

New probate rules

The Supreme Court Civil Rules dealing with probate and administration (probate rules) have been amended to reflect changes brought about by the enactment of the Wills, Estates and Succession Act and to modernize the application process.