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Wills, Estates and Succession Act

On September 24, 2009, Bill 4: the Wills, Estates and Succession Act (WESA), was introduced by the BC government. It passed all three readings and was granted Royal Assent on October 29, 2009. 

The legislation reduces the number of separate acts that involve estate law to one. The goal is to modernize the law and make it easier to read, understand and use.

 

 

 

 

 

SO WHAT DOES IT DO?

The new Wills, Estates and Succession Act repeals and replaces the following acts:

  • Estate Administration Act, RSBC 1996, c. 122
  • Probate Recognition Act, RSBC 1996, c. 376
  • Wills Act, RSBC 1996, c. 489
  • Wills Variation Act, RSBC 1996, c. 490
  • Law and Equity Act, RSBC 1996, c. 253, s. 46, 49, 50 & 51
  • Survivorship and Presumption of Death Act, RSBC 1996, c. 444, s. 2

Consequential amendments were also made to 41 other statutes.

The explanatory notes state:

The new Act is modeled on a report prepared by members of the Succession Law Reform Project of the British Columbia Law Institute and establishes a new administrative process for small estates.

 

IS IT IN FORCE?

Yes. It came into force on March 31, 2014 (BC Reg #148/2013). 

WESA is now on BC Laws.

 

ARE THERE NEW PROBATE RULES?

Yes.  Most of the existing forms and procedures have been changed.

The BC Supreme Court Civil Rules were amended to include Part 25, which deals with probate and administration, by BC Reg #149/2013, effective March 31, 2014.  

Part 25 replaces Rules 21-4 and 21-5.  It was added to the Civil Rules to reflect the changes brought about by the enactment of the Wills, Estates and Succession Act.

However, please note that new probate rules and forms (BC Reg #149/2013) have since been amended by BC Reg #44/2014*, effective March 30, 2014.  This amendment to the court rules has not yet been incorporated into the BC Supreme Court Civil Rules as found on BC Laws, but the new forms can be found on the Ministry of Justice - Supreme Court Civil Rules - Probate Forms page.

The new probate rules required the approval of the Supreme Court Rules Revision Committee and the Attorney General.

For a summary of the new rules, see Explanation of the New Supreme Court Civil Rules (Probate) on the Ministry of Justice website.

*Please note that BC Reg #44/2014 was originally deposited as BC Reg #41/2014.  However, due to a procedural issue, BC Reg #41/2014 never came into force.  It was just re-deposited as BC Reg #44/2014 two days later.  Since BC Reg #41/2014 never came into force, it wasn't repealed. The content and coming into force dates remained exactly the same. 

HAS IT BEEN AMENDED?

WESA was amended in 2011, during the 3rd Session of the 39th Parliament.  The amendments contained in Bill 10: the Wills, Estates and Succession Amendment Act, 2011, SBC 2011, c. 6 came into force upon royal assent, June 2, 2011. 

This does not bring the statute being amended into force, rather it readies the new act for being proclaimed.

 

HOW CAN I CITE IT?

The Wills, Estates and Succession Act can be cited as SBC 2009, c. 13.

 

HOW WILL THE TRANSITION WORK?

If an application was filed under a former probate rule and met all the requirements of the former rules, then the application is deemed to continue under the new Probate Rules.  Once the application is made, then all other filings with respect to the estate will be under the new probate rules.

However, if a person died before WESA came into force and an application for an estate grant is made after that date, the new Probate Rules will apply.

Under section 185 of WESA, the following parts will only apply to deaths occuring on or after the date on which those parts come into force:

  • Part 2 - Fundamental Rules
  • Part 3 - When a Person Dies Without a Will
  • Part 6 - Administration of Estates

Section 186 will apply only if the Will-Maker (formerly testator) dies on or after the date on which Part 4 comes into force, but does not invalidate a will validly made before the effective date nor revive a will validly revoked before the effective date.

Section 187 will apply to designations (whenever made) if the participant dies on or after the effective date.

Under section 188, administration and probate grants granted under the Estate Administration Act will be deemed to be valid under WESA.

Section 189 will apply to wills made on or after the effective date.

And finally, the court may give any transitional directions or make any orders with respect to an Act repealed by WESA.

 

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

The legislation was first introduced as Bill 28 in 2008 during the 4th Session, 38th Parliament. When the session was prorogued on February 16, 2009, the bill had received first reading only and died on the order paper.

Substantially the same bill was re-introduced on September 14, 2009 during the 1st Session, 39th Parliament as Bill 4.

It received second reading on September 17, 2009. On September 24, 2009, Bill 4 was considered in Committee of the Whole House, and received third reading. It received Royal Assent on October 29, 2009.

The WESA will come into force on March 31, 2014 by BC Reg #148/2013.

According to the CLE Wills, Estates and Succession Act Transition Guide, chapter 1.II, “a number of minor inaccuracies have been noted. It is expected that these will  be corrected by further legislation before proclamation.”

Read more about the legislative history: Balden, S.F. "Bill 28 — Wills, Estates and Succession Act" from Wills and Estates For Legal Support Staff: Advanced Issues - 2009 Update (CLE).

 

DO YOU HAVE THE REPORTS FROM THE SUCCESSION LAW REFORM PROJECT OF THE BC LAW INSTITUTE UPON WHICH THE NEW ACT WAS MODELED?

We do! You can read them online or at a couple of our courthouse libraries:

BCLI Report 40, Interim Report on the Summary Administration of Small Estates (2005), is incorporated into the Wills, Estates and Succession Report 45 (available in Vancouver and Victoria courthouse libraries)

BCLI Report 45, Wills, Estates and Succession, A Modern Legal Framework (2006). Part One of the Final Report explains the principal changes recommended in the areas of wills, the Wills Variation Act, intestacy, estate administration, survivorship presumptions, and certain miscellaneous areas.  Part 2 of the report contained draft legislation with commentary, not identical to either of the bills that went before Parliament, and a concordance.

BCLI Consultation Paper on New Probate Rules (May 2010) by the Probate Rules Reform Project Committee of the BC Law Institute.  Contains tentative recommendations by the project committee that have not been formally adopted by the Board of Directors of the BCLI (available in Vancouver and Victoria courthouse libraries).

BCLI Report 57, Report on New Probate Rules (October 2010) by the Probate Rules Reform Project Committee of the BC Law Institute. Contains draft rules which would replace the current BC Supreme Court Civil Rules 21-4 and 21-5. 

 

ARE THERE ANY OTHER RESOURCES?

Wills, Estates and Succession Act Transition Guide (2010) by CLE (available in Vancouver and Victoria Courthouse Libraries).  Subscribers to CLE Online have access to the electronic version of the Guide. Contains a concordance for both the new act and probate rules, as well as the new draft rules with annotations and commentary.

Interpretation of wills, 1981 by the Law Reform Commission of British Columbia (available in Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna).  

Statutory succession rights, 1982 by the Law Reform Commission of British Columbia (available in Vancouver, Victoria and regional libraries). 

Report on presumptions of survivorship, 1982 by the Law Reform Commission of British Columbia (available in Vancouver, Victoria and regional libraries). 

Report on statutory succession rights, 1983 by the Law Reform Commission of British Columbia (available in Vancouver, Victoria and regional libraries). 

 

 

posted October 29, 2012

last updated April 4, 2014

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