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


By Grant GilmourGrant  Gilmour


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.


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.


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