The new legislation for wills that came into effect earlier this year – what you should know

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By Grant GilmourGrant  Gilmour

Facts:

The new Wills and Estates Succession Act (WESA) came into effect March 31, 2014.  There are major changes for those people that do not have a will.  There are only minor changes for those who currently have a will.

Discussion:

Everyone should have a will to facilitate the distribution of your possessions and assets upon death.  A will is also important for the following reasons:

• appointing a guardian for any of your children under the age of 19

•appointing a representative to look after your affairs, which is called the executor

•designating a certain age for your beneficiaries to receive their inheritance

•  avoiding the provincial laws if you die without a will such as the government  appointing a public guardian and trustee for  your children

•  reducing the cost of administering your estate

• business succession planning

 

Here is a list of major changes as per the WESA for  a person who dies without a will:

 

•  the spouse is entitled to $300,000 if all the children are shared with the deceased (previous spousal share was $65,000).    The spouse only gets $150,000 if the deceased’s children are from another relationship

•  the spouse receives 50% of the balance of the estate not including the matrimonial  home (previous spousal share was split equally with the children)

• the children will get the remainder of the estate to be split equally (previous share  split equally with spouse)

•  the spouse does not get a life interest in the home (previously the spouse did have a  life interest in the home). The spouse will have a right to purchase the matrimonial  home or elect to have it considered to be part of the estate

•  different distribution rules for those who do not have a spouse or child.  The new  rules will be based on closeness to a parent rather than just blood relations

• new probate rules and forms which are required to be sent to all beneficiaries and  heirs

A will should be reviewed when there is major change in your life such as a birth, death, marriage or marital breakdown in your family.  You may also want to change the will if you have a substantial change in assets/liabilities or if there is a change in tax laws.

Recommendation:

If you would like more information on estate planning or business succession planning, please contact us at Gilmour Knotts Chartered Accountants.