Estate Law: Intestacy
When a person dies who has no will and owns property of a value greater than the sum of any of their debts and funeral expenses, they leave their estate in a condition of intestacy. When this occurs, their assets are distributed in Alberta in a specific order as determined by the Wills and Succession Act.
If a person has a surviving spouse and children, their spouse will receive the first $150,000, and the rest of their estate will be divided among their spouse and children, the percentages dependant on the number of children. If they have a surviving spouse but no children, their spouse will receive the entire estate. If they have surviving children but no spouse, their estate will be divided among them. If any children under the age of 18 receive any part of the estate, the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPG) will oversee administration on the children’s behalf until they each 18, at which point they will receive it.
If a person has no surviving spouse or children, the estate will go to their parents or to the person’s siblings if they have no surviving parents. If they have no surviving siblings, their estate will be divided among their living nieces and nephews. If they have no nieces and nephews, special instructions apply.
Dealing with the legal issues surrounding an intestate estate on top of mourning the death of a loved one can be overwhelming. At LA Law, we have a wills and estate lawyer in Edmonton to assist you in making a claim for a loved one’s estate or to help you apply to become the estate trustee.
Why you need a Will
In most situations, dying intestate and having your estate distributed by a predetermined formula is less than ideal. Dying intestate, you do not have any control over who should administer your estate and care for your children while they are underage. This can potentially cause disagreement amongst your family members and create practical difficulties after your death, as well as result in additional costs to your estate.
Having a properly drafted will and estate plan can minimize taxes and probate fees, leaving more money for your family members, and allows for customized trusts to be established for children under specified ages, which can be later than the age of majority. With a will, you can leave specific direction concerning the administration of your estate, and the guardianship and custody of your children. Finally, it is essential to have a will if you want to leave a part of your estate to a common law spouse, a friend, or a charitable organization.
A Personal Directive eliminates the need for your family to make critical medical decisions without your guidance. It lets them know what types of medical treatment you would want administered, and who you wish to make decisions for you in the event of a serious accident or illness leaving you legally incapacitated. While it is possible to draft a will and a personal directive by yourself, your estate may have legal complexities that you would not be aware of without obtaining legal advice, as outlined below.
Why you need a Personal Directive
Having a personal directive reduces the likelihood of disagreements amongst your family members concerning what medical treatment or personal care would be most appropriate for you in a given circumstance. Although you may assume that your family members know your wishes, they may not truly understand what you would want in a difficult situation. Your personal directive can be very specific or very general; specifying your wishes with regard to pain relieving drugs in the event of a painful terminal illness, or whether “heroic” measures, i.e. a respirator, should be used to prolong your life in the event that the prospects of recovery are slim. Personal directive can, and should, be updated as your wishes change over time.
Contact a Wills and Estate Lawyer in Edmonton
If you are looking for a wills and estate lawyer in Edmonton and surrounding areas, please contact us today
at 780-962-9500. At LA Law, we have years of experience when it comes to estate law in Spruce Grove and estate law in Stony Plain.