Modernized wills and estate law

New probate rules also will come into effect in conjunction with WESA

New probate rules and the Wills, Estates and Succession Act (WESA) are providing greater certainty for individuals who put their last wishes into writing and simplifying the process for those in charge of distributing an estate.

WESA will come into force officially on March 31, 2014, modernizing B.C.’s current laws – which have provisions dating back to the 1800s – on inheritance and succession planning. By streamlining seven outdated acts into one single act, the new law will make estate planning easier for the general public to understand.

Government worked in close collaboration with stakeholders and the B.C. Law Institute to adopt this new set of clear, comprehensive laws that relate to the administration of estates and wills.

New probate rules also will come into effect in conjunction with WESA. Probate is the process of applying to the court for its ruling on whether a will is legally valid. The new rules will help to shorten and simplify that process for citizens by establishing provincewide standards for probate court procedures. The new rules also will create new intuitive, standardized forms for the public to use.

Simple and complex cases will each have their own probate application forms. Shorter forms will be used for more simple cases, helping to speed up the probate process for the vast majority of estates. Longer forms will be required for those cases that are more complex, for example, if a page out of the will appears to be missing or the will was not signed properly.

Setting the implementation date for WESA and the new probate rules well in advance of March 2014 provides the public and legal community with an opportunity to learn about and prepare for the broad scope of changes.