Changing Estate Laws in BC
As the chair for the Victoria Canadian Bar Association Wills & Trusts section, I recently had the opportunity to attend the CBA’s National Wills & Trusts section meeting as the British Columbia representative. One of the most interesting parts of the meeting was the reports from the provincial and territorial representatives, where each representative provided a summary of recent developments in estate law in their jurisdiction.While there were certainly some interesting cases and legislative changes in other jurisdictions, British Columbia had the most developments to report by far. Here are some of the highlights from my report at the National meeting:
Family Law Act: BC’s new Family Law Act (“FLA”) came into force on March 18, 2013. The new FLA made many changes to family law in British Columbia. The FLA is important to estate law because it governs issues like guardianship of minors, the financial rights and obligations of separated spouses (both married and common-law) and child support – all of which can be at issue when a person dies.
Limitation Act: On June 1, 2013, the new Limitation Act came into force in British Columbia. The new Limitation Act simplified, and in most cases, reduced the time limits for filing civil lawsuits to two years from the time the claim is discovered. There are exceptions to this, so it is important to get legal advice as soon as possible if you think you may have a claim. Some time limits are set out in different pieces of legislation, for example, a claim under the Wills Variation Act must be commenced within 6 months of probate of the will being issued in British Columbia.
Wills, Estates and Succession Act: “WESA”, as it is being called, will come into force on March 31, 2014. This new legislation is really intended to modernize and consolidate wills and estates legislation in British Columbia. It makes significant changes to the law around the preparation of wills, the administration of estates, and estate litigation (keep an eye out for more blog posts dealing with WESA over the coming months!).
We are definitely working through a transition period in terms of legislative changes in British Columbia, and many of them have a significant effect on wills, estate administration and estate disputes. Consulting with a lawyer can help you to understand your rights and obligations under these new laws.
This blog does not provide legal advice and should not be taken as such. For proper legal advice on the above issue you should contact a lawyer.